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  • GDPR - Lessons from the front line Posted on 02 May 2018

    After my six-year stint as head of asset finance at the Finance and Leasing Association lobbying to achieve the best possible regulatory system, it feels odd now to earn my living (in part) from helping firms in the leasing industry to implement cumbersome new regulations. Yet there seems to be a constant stream of new rules to implement, with the latest being the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).


    For most leasing brokers it’s 95% business as normal in how they handle data, but the 5% could (in theory) make all the difference between a safe agreement and one that risks being unenforceable. With the support of Arkle Finance, who sponsored a GDPR toolkit developed specifically for their brokers, and BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions, who paid for their brokers to receive GDPR consultancy support free of charge, I have been delighted to assist around 50 asset finance brokers and suppliers over the past couple of months.


    In addition to helping brokers to find a pragmatic but compliant way of dealing with GDPR, it’s always good to hear their views. Here are three points from recent discussions:  


    1) Brokers take their regulatory responsibilities seriously, including now GDPR, but some achieve them more efficiently than others. A few brokers are spending so long dealing with regulation that it interferes with their day-to-day work supporting businesses needing finance. Worse than this, I’ve seen cases where this harms brokers’ health and well-being. In my view, if compliance for a small broking firm is taking more than a few hours per week, something is likely to be wrong.


    2) Whilst maintaining their professional independence, brokers value genuine partnerships with funders. Some are frustrated when funders (or perhaps it’s their lawyers) seem to want to delegate all risk to their brokers. When there are problems - and there always will be some -  brokers want to work with lenders to learn from the experience. They don’t appreciate being blamed for things that are not their sole responsibility. 


    3) Whether it’s FCA, GDPR, or the myriad of other laws and regulation that impact our market, we all know the regulatory system is far from ideal. Too often it is ill-suited to the needs of smaller businesses. Brokers are often at the sharp end of this, and many would welcome funders agreeing how the rules should be interpreted and applied. One set of guidance, not ten or more, would greatly help brokers to cope with the latest new regulation.

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