Product Partnerships

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Product Partnerships's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Product Partnerships is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Managing Director Nigel Wray
Our online system enables
businesses to effectively
manage their compliance
Established in response to the FCA taking over regulatory
responsibility for consumer credit activities, Product
Partnerships are committed to helping businesses, often
with no experience in compliance, to adapt to these regulations.
Focusing solely on consumer credit firms, they have been able
to develop significant expertise in this area. While they originally
focused on smaller firms, they also work for large multinationals
and top FTSE companies who they have helped to adapt to
the UK regulatory environment. Managing Director Nigel Wray
discusses the development of the company and how they hope
to continue double-digit growth.
We are based in Salts Mill, Saltaire, a World Heritage Site made famous in the 19th
century by the innovative alpaca wool merchant Sir Titus Salt and latterly from
its connection with David Hockney. We continue this tradition of innovation by
adapting to regulatory changes in the consumer credit sector with a focus on the
customer rather than having a profit-comes-first mentality.
We started trading in 2014 in response to the Financial Conduct Authority taking
over regulatory responsibility for consumer credit activities. This change brought
30,000 firms within the FCA regime, a more robust regulatory framework than
previously seen under the Office of Fair Trading. Many firms, whose primary
business was selling goods, like cars, home furnishings and home improvements,
became subject to the same regulation as banks and other major financial
institutions. Compliance skills and knowledge not previously required were now
fundamental to the continuing operation of their business. The FCA also had to
»Managing Director: Nigel Wray
»Established in 2014
»Based in Salts Mill, Saltaire,
near Bradford, a World
Heritage Site
»Services: Compliance
management services for
consumer credit companies
regulated by the Financial
Conduct Authority
»No. of employees: 9
Product Partnerships
Highlighting best practice
adapt to regulating firms who sell
tangible consumer goods, not just
intangible financial products.
Firms now needed support to ensure
they remained compliant and adhered
to the new rules. Many in this sector
are small to medium-sized businesses
without the resources, knowhow
or budget to employ in-house
Our services
Our focus is solely on consumer credit
firms, the largest sector by number
of firms, regulated by the FCA. This
was a strategic decision to enable us
to develop expertise in one specific
area rather than a broader approach
covering other financial services
sectors. We are a member of the
Consumer Credit Trade Association
and the Association of Professional
Compliance Consultants, enabling us
to share best practice and keep up to
date with the views and thoughts of
leading compliance experts.
We have developed our own
online compliance system, covering
management information, complaints
and sales processes. This is our
“compliance in a box”, a single
reference point for a firm’s compliance
requirements. Our systems have
been designed using cutting-edge
technology to ensure customer
processes are compliant but not overly
complex. We have also launched an
online training system which enables
firms to undertake annual training
from within their workplace, keeping
up to date with regulation. Working
directly with employees results in
them becoming more engaged with
regulation, with some even looking at
developing a career in compliance.
Our work continues to support
the FCA’s ethos of delivering an
environment in which the customer
is at the heart of how firms operate.
We ensure firms have the necessary
procedures in place and regulatory
focus on informing customers, in
a clear and fair way, about their
products, without incurring heavy costs
for in-house compliance resources that
may not be proportionate to the level
of business risk.
Supporting our partners
While only focusing on one specific
area within the FCA environment,
we work with a diverse range of
businesses, from small owner-operator
ones through to the largest companies
in the UK. This requires us to shape
our support services to match the level
of risk and compliance requirements
of each individual firm. We work with
small motor dealers whose primary
focus is selling cars, as well as some of
the largest businesses in the UK, who
are not financial services companies,
but who offer their employees
products regulated by the FCA. Many
firms can be new to the sector with
no experience of working within
Salts Mill in Saltaire,
a World Heritage Site
and home to Product
We become a
key part of
their business
by getting
systems and
processes in
place and by
using our
the UK financial services regulatory
regime. We become a key part of
their business by getting regulatory
systems and processes in place and
using our sector expertise to help
them better understand the consumer
We work with multinational
companies when they set up UK-
based operations, an example being a
highly successful US company looking
to maximise sales of their prestige
exercise equipment. We ensure that
the required compliance oversight is in
place and they have now successfully
launched in the UK, with their finance
offering playing a major part in
How the business is developing
Like many start-up businesses,
becoming established can be harder
than envisaged. New regulatory
requirements take time to embed,
with many firms trying to do as little
as possible rather than embracing
change as a way to improve
business processes and customer
satisfaction. However, many firms,
with our support, have focused on
improving customer service and
information, with better outcomes
achieved for both customers and
employees. By utilising our systems
and processes, firms can get the right
balance between meeting regulatory
requirements and not becoming
overburdened by bureaucracy. This
shows outsourcing at its best: rather
than investing heavily in internal
resources with the potential for a
lower level of expertise and increased
costs passed on to consumers, or
ignoring legislation and putting
the customer and business at risk,
we can supply a level of service
and expertise that is optimal for
the specific business. This ensures
efficiency in terms of knowledge,
time and money. We also ensure that
those within the business who retain
ultimate responsibility for compliance
have the knowledge and expertise to
adequately carry out theseduties.
With a focus on improving customer
experience and knowledge, developing
first-class innovative systems and
a tenacity to succeed, we have
maintained year-on-year growth in
excess of 20 per cent. We will continue
to focus solely on consumer credit,
with our goal to continue to develop
our reputation as knowledge experts,
rather than being the biggest in our
field. We want to effectively help firms,
for whom financial services are often
not their primary business, to meet
stringent regulatory requirements
in a proportionate way, and help
small businesses compete on an
equal footing with larger firms who
have their own compliance teams.
We already see our reputation for
expertise growing, with referrals
from legal firms, product providers
and even competitor firms, while we
are also being invited to take part
in expert panels at industry events.
Developing our reputation in this
market will continue to be the primary
way in which we look to maintain
double-digit annual growth in the
Many firms,
with our
support, have
focused on
service and
with better
achieved for
customers and
Nigel Wray at the
CDX motor industry
conference, discussing
the future of motor

This article was sponsored by Product Partnerships. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster