More asking for loans to be waived

The number of people asking to have loan payments waived because they have been made redundant is increasing and MTF Finance says it expects that to continue throughout next year.

The company has recently posted its annual result - a profit of $5 million- which is down more than half compared with same time last year.

But MTF chief executive Glen Todd said those figures did not tell the story of a challenging year in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the unforeseen and difficult circumstances customers were thrown into.

"People were ... looking for some reassurance about what was happening. They didn’t know what their employer was up to or how that was going to affect them and just needed some reassurance that we were there to assist them once they had some more clarity about what was happening."

Mr Todd was grateful to MTF and its originator companies’ sets of staff for the support given to customers throughout the year.

Challenges around bad debt were expected to continue and the company had set aside $4.5 million to deal with bad debt.

To work out that figure MTF required "a bit of science and a bit of art," Mr Todd said.

The company used the Global Financial Crisis and how it came out of that situation as a model for how the business might recover after Covid-19.

When Mr Todd refers to bad debt he is talking about people not being able to pay back loans, but also the originator shareholders who wrote loans not being able to pay them back.

"We’re seeing an increase for redundancy for our payment waiver product and that sort of thing and we expect that to increase," he said.

"Our priority is assisting those customers over the next 12 to 24 months, because we think we’re not out of the woods yet. There’s some more hurt to come, I think."

The pain of Covid-19 was likely to continue to be felt in the wider economy, but consumer finance and credit could play an important role in the recovery, Mr Todd said.

Summer was going to be critical. Many businesses had held on through a tough winter in anticipation of stronger business in summer.

For the year MTF’s loan book was at $489 million, down about 5% from the $515 million in 2019.

"There’s a big hole in the middle there, obviously, in March, April and a little bit into May ... where our monthly sales dropped by about 90%."

The recovery since June had been strong, he said.

As people were still not able to travel widely there were funds in the order of $10billion being spent domestically, which was helping the economy.

There was a risk, however, that when borders opened people would start to take that money overseas again, Mr Todd said.

Founded in Dunedin in 1970, MTF Finance has 186 active shareholder originators, of which 109 are car dealerships, and 47 franchises, which sell only financial services.


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