Where to Find Car Loan Low Interest Finance

You may be surprised to learn how much you will be able to save when you take out car loan low interest finance. If you have been working hard to negotiate the best sale price on your new car, you certainly won’t want to negate the savings you make by paying dearly for finance. There are many companies around who can offer you a good deal on an auto loan and, when looking for car finance, you should aim to pay the lowest rate you can.

When looking for car loan low interest finance you should ensure that you consider all options available to you. A lot of people feel more comfortable sticking with their own financial institutions or the larger bank lenders as they seem to think they will be able to provide the best loans at the best rates. This is not always the case. These days there are a large number of non-bank lenders who provide car loan low interest finance.

Probably the best place to start looking for car loan low interest finance is on the internet. The majority of non-bank loan providers operate solely online as it is an easy way to set up their business without having to outlay a lot of capital. These companies also have minimal running costs, so they can afford to offer car loan low interest finance and still make a reasonable profit.

It is important, when searching for car loan low interest finance, that you realize that interest rates can vary considerably between lenders these days. Ensure that you take the time to shop around and get as many quotes as possible, as you may never know when you will come across the perfect auto loan at the lowest price around. It is only by approaching as many lenders as you can that you will have any success in finding car loan low interest finance.

Looking for car loan low interest rate financing is quick and easy when you do it online. Not only can you compare lenders at a time that is convenient for you, but you will only need to enter your details once in order to receive multiple quotes. The other great thing about getting car loan low interest finance online is that the application process is incredibly straight forward. Once you have found a great rate from a reliable lender, you will be able to apply for your loan online by completing a standard application form. Your application will be submitted to your lender immediately and so the processing of your application is a lot faster.

One thing that you will need to be cautious about when getting car loan low interest finance online is that you will need to ensure that the lender you go with is legitimate and reputable. Sometimes a company that offers ridiculously low rates may not be the most trustworthy, so always take the time to find out more about a lender before signing on the dotted line. You can check out the business ratings of various lenders online through the Better Business Bureau or through auto finance review sites.

Mergers and Acquisitions (M&As)

Mergers and Acquisitions are terms almost always used together in the business world to refer to two or more business entities joining to form one enterprise. More often than not a merger is where two enterprises of roughly equal size and strength come together to form a single entity. Both companies’ stocks are merged into one. An acquisition is usually a larger firm purchasing a smaller one. This takes the form of a takeover or a buyout, and could be either a friendly union or the result of a hostile bid where the smaller firm has very little say in the matter. The smaller, target company, ceases to exist while the acquiring company continues to trade its stock. An example is where a number of smaller British companies ceased to exist once they were taken over by the Spanish bank Santander. The exception to this is when both parties agree, irrespective of the relative strength and size, to present themselves as a merger rather than an acquisition. An example of a true merger would be the joining of Glaxo Wellcome with SmithKline Beecham in 1999 when both firms together became GlaxoSmithKline. An example of an acquisition posing as a merger for appearances sake was the takeover of Chrysler by Daimler-Benz in the same year. As already seen, since mergers and acquisitions are not easily categorised, it is no easy matter to analyse and explain the many variables underlying success or failure of M&As.

Historically, a distinction has been made between congeneric and conglomerate mergers. Roughly speaking, congeneric firms are those in the same industry and at a similar level of economic activity, while conglomerates are mergers from unrelated industries or businesses. Congeneric could also be seen as (a) horizontal mergers and (b) vertical mergers depending on whether the products and services are of the same type or of a mutually supportive nature. Horizontal mergers may come under the scrutiny of anti-trust legislation if the result is seen as turning into a monopoly. An example is the British Competition Commission preventing the country’s largest supermarket chains buying up the retailer Safeway. Vertical mergers occur when a customer of a company and that company merges, or when a supplier to a company and that company merges. The classic example given is that of an ice cream cone supplier merging with an ice cream manufacturer.

The ‘first wave’ of horizontal mergers took place in the United States between 1899 and 1904 during a period referred to as the Great Merger Movement. Between 1916 and 1929, the ‘second wave’ was more of vertical mergers. After the great depression and World War II the ‘third wave’ of conglomerate mergers took place between 1965 and 1989. The ‘fourth wave’ between 1992 and 1998 saw congeneric mergers and even more hostile takeovers. Since the year 2000 globalisation encouraging cross-border mergers has resulted in a ‘fifth wave’. The total worldwide value of mergers and acquisitions in 1998 alone was $2.4 trillion, up by 50% from the previous year (andrewgray.com). The entry of developing countries in Asia into the M&A scene has resulted in what is described as the ‘sixth wave’. The number of mergers and acquisitions in the US alone numbered 376 in 2004 at a cost of $22.64 billion, while the previous year (2003) the cost was a mere $12.92 billion. The growth of M&As worldwide appears to be unstoppable.

What is the raison d’etre for the proliferation of mergers and acquisitions? In a nutshell, the intention is to increase the shareholder value over and above that of the sum of two companies. The main objective of any firm is to grow profitably. The term used to denote the process by which this is accomplished is ‘synergy’. Most analysts come up with a list of synergies like, economies of scale, eliminating duplicate functions, in this case often resulting in staff reductions, acquiring new technology, extending market reach, greater industry visibility, and an enhanced capacity to raise capital. Others have stressed, even more ambitiously, the importance of M&As as being “indispensable…for expanding product portfolios, entering new markets, acquiring new technologies and building a new generation organization with power and resources to compete on a global basis” (Virani). However, as Hughes (1989) observed “the predicted efficiency gains often fail to materialise”. Statistics reveal that the failure rate for M&As are somewhere between 40-80%. Even more damning is the observation that “If one were to define ‘failure’ as failure to increase shareholder value then statistics show these to be at the higher end of the scale at 83%”.

In spite of the reported high incidence of its failure rate “Corporate mergers and acquisitions (M&As) (continue to be) popular… during the last two decades thanks to globalization, liberalization, technological developments and (an) intensely competitive business environment” (Virani 2009). Even after the ‘credit crunch’, Europe (both Western and Eastern) attract strategic and financial investors according to a recent M&A study (Deloitte 2007). The reasons for the few successes and the many failures remain obscure (Stahl, Mendenhall and Weber, 2005). King, Dalton, Daily and Covin (2004) made a meta-analysis of M&A performance research and concluded that “despite decades of research, what impacts the financial performance of firms engaging in M&A activity remains largely unexplained” (p.198). Mercer Management Consulting (1997) concluded that “an alarming 48% of mergers underperform their industry after three years”, and Business Week recently reported that in 61% of acquisitions “buyers destroyed their own shareholders’ wealth”. It is impossible to view such comments either as an explanation or an endorsement of the continuing popularity of M&As.

Traditionally, explanations of M&A performance has been analysed within the theoretical framework of financial and strategic factors. For example, there is the so-called ‘winner’s curse’ where the parent company is supposed to have paid over the odds for the company that was acquired. Even when the deal is financially sound, it may fail due to ‘human factors’. Job losses, and the attendant uncertainty, anxiety and resentment among employees at all levels may demoralise the workforce to such an extent that a firm’s productivity could drop between 25 to 50 percent (Tetenbaum 1999). Personality clashes resulting in senior executives quitting acquired firms (’50% within one year’) is not a healthy outcome. A paper entitled ‘Mergers and Acquisitions Lead to Long-Term Management Turmoil’ in the Journal of Business Strategy (July/August 2008) suggests that M&As ‘destroy leadership continuity’ with target companies losing 21% of their executives each year for at least 10 years, which is double the turnover of other firms.

Problems described as ‘ego clashes’ within top management have been seen more often in mergers between equals. The Dunlop – Pirelli merger in 1964 which became the world’s second largest tyre company ended in an expensive splitting-up. There is also the merger of two weak or underperforming companies which drag each other down. An example is the 1955 merger of car makers Studebaker and Packard. By 1964 they had ceased to exist. There is also the ever present danger of CEOs wanting to build an empire acquiring assets willy-nilly. This often is the case when the top managers’ remuneration is tied to the size of the enterprise. The remuneration of corporate lawyers and the greed of investment bankers are also factors which influence the proliferation of M&As. Some firms may aim for tax advantages from a merger or acquisition, but this could be seen as a secondary benefit. Another reason for M&A failure has been identified as ‘over leverage’ when the principal firm pays cash for the subsidiary assuming too much debt to service in the future.

M&As are usually unique events, perhaps once in a lifetime for most top mangers. There is therefore hardly any opportunity to learn by experience and improve one’s performance, the next time round. However, there are a few exceptions, like the financial-services conglomerate GE Capital services with over 100 acquisitions over a five-year period. As Virani (2009) says “…serial acquirers who possess the in house skills necessary to promote acquisition success as (a) well trained and competent implementation team, are more likely to make successful acquisitions”. What GE Capital has learned over the years is summarised below.

1. Well before the deal is struck, the integration strategy and process should be initiated between the two sets of top managers. If incompatibilities are detected at this early stage, such as differences in management style and culture, either a compromise could be achieved or the deal abandoned.

2. The integration process is recognised as a distinct management function, ascribed to a hand-picked individual selected for his/her interpersonal and cross-cultural sensitivity between the parent firm and the subsidiary.

3. If there are to be lay-offs due to restructuring, these must be announced at the earliest possible stage with exit remuneration packages, if any.

4. People and not just procedures are important. As early as possible, it is necessary to form problem solving groups with members from both firms resulting, hopefully, in a bonding process.

These measures are not without their critics. Problems could still surface long after the merger or acquisition. Whether to aim for total integration between two very different cultures is possible or desirable is questioned. That there could be an optimal strategy out of four possible states of: integration, assimilation, separation or deculturation.

A paper by Robert Heller and Edward de Bono entitled ‘Mergers and acquisitions and takeovers: Buying another business is easy but making the merger a success is full of pitfalls’ (08/07/2006) looks at examples of unsuccessful mergers from the relatively recent past and makes recommendations for avoiding their mistakes. Their findings could be generalised to other M&As and therefore is worth paying attention to.

They begin with the BMW – Rover merger where they have identified strategic failings. BMW invested £2.8 billion in acquiring Rover and kept losing £360,000 annually. The strategic objective had been to broaden the buyer’s product line. However, the first combined product was the Rover 75, which competed directly with existing BMW mid-range models. The other, existing Rover cars were out of date and uncompetitive, and the job of replacing them was left far too late.

Another fly in the ointment was that the stated profits that Rover had supposedly enjoyed were subsequently seen as illusory. Subjected to BMWs accounting principles, they were turned into losses. Obviously, BMW had failed in the exercise of ‘due diligence’. (Due diligence is described as the detailed analysis of all important features like finance, management capability, physical assets and other less tangible assets (Virani 2009). Interestingly, the authors allude to instances of demergers being more successful than mergers. For example, Vodafone, the mobile telephone dealer, which was owned by Racal, is now valued at $33.6 billion, 33 times greater in value than the parent company Racal. The other instance is that of ICI and Zeneca where the spin-off is worth £25 billion as against the parent company being valued at £4 billion.

The authors refer to the fact that after a merger, the management span at the top becomes wider, and this could impose new strains. Due to difficulties in adjustment to the new realities, the need for positive action tends to get put on the back burner. Delay is dangerous as the BMW managers realised. While BMW set targets and expected 100% acquiescence, Rover was in the habit of reaching only 80% of the targets set. Walter Hasselkus, the German manager of Rover after the merger, was respectful of the Rover’s existing culture that he failed to impose the much stricter BMW ethos, and, ultimately lost his position.

Another failure of strategy implementation by BMW recognised by the authors was that of investing in the wrong assets. BMW paid only £800 million for Rover, but invested £2 billion in factories and outlets, but not in developing products. BMW hitherto had concentrated quite successfully on executive cars produced in smaller numbers. They obviously felt vulnerable in an industry dominated by large, volume producers of cars. It is not always the case that bigger is better. In fragmenting markets, even transnational corporations lose their customers to niche, more attractive, small players.

There was an earlier reference in this essay to the success of giant pharmaceuticals like SmithKline Beecham. However, they are now losing large sums of money to divest themselves of drug distribution companies they acquired at great cost; clearly a strategic mistake, which the authors’ label ‘jumping on the bandwagon’. They quote a top American manager bidding for a smaller financial services company in 1998 being asked why, as saying ‘Aw, shucks, fellers, all the other kids have got one…’ The correct strategy, they imply, is to reorganise around core businesses disposing of irrelevancies and strengthening the core. They give the example of Nokia who disposed of paper, tyres, metals, electronics, cables and TVs to concentrate on mobile telephones. Here’s a case of successful reverse merging. On the other hand, top managers should have the vision to transform a business by imaginatively blending disparate activities to appeal to the market.

Ultimately it is down to the visionary chief executive to steer the course for the new merged enterprise. The authors give the example of Silicon Valley, where ‘new ideas are the key currency and visionaries dominate’. They say that the Silicon Valley mergers succeeded because the targets were small and were bought while the existing businesses themselves were experiencing dynamic growth.

What has so far not being addressed in this essay is the phenomenon of cross-border or cross-cultural mergers and acquisitions, which are of increasing importance in the 21st century. This fact is recognised as the ‘sixth wave’, with China, India, and Brazil emerging as global players in trade and industry. Cross-cultural negotiation skills are central to success in cross-border M&As. Transnational corporations (TNCs) are very actively engaged in these negotiations, with their annual value-added business performance exceeding that of some nation states. A detailed exposition of the dynamics of cross-cultural negotiations in M&As is found in Jayasinghe 2009 (pp. 169 – 176). The ‘cultural dynamics of M&A’ has been explored by Cartwright and Schoenberg, 2006. Other researchers in this area use terms such as ‘cultural distance’ ‘cultural compatibility’, ‘cultural fit’, and ‘sociocultural integration’ as determinants of M&A success.

There is general agreement that M&A activity is at its height following an economic downturn. All five historical ‘waves’ of M&A dealings testify to this. One of the main reasons for this could be the rapid drop in the stock value of target companies. A major factor in the increase in global outward foreign direct investment (FDI) stock which was $14 billion in 1970, to $2,000 billion in 2007, was ‘due to mergers and acquisitions (M&As) of existing entities, as opposed to establishing an entirely new entity ( that is, ‘Greenfield’ investment’)’ (Rajan and Hattari 2009). Increased global economic activity alone may have accounted for this increase. In the early 1990s M&A deals were worth $150 billion, while in the year 2000 it had peaked to $1,200 billion, most of it due to cross-border deals. However, by 2006 it had dropped to $880 billion. Rajan and Hattari (op cit) ascribe this growth to the growing significance of the cross-border integration of Asian economies.

During 2003-06, the share of developed economies (EU, Japan and USA) in M&A purchases had declined. From 96.5 percent in 1987 it had fallen to 87 percent by 2006. This is said to be due to the ascendancy of developing economies of Asia both in terms of value as well as the number of M&As. Substantiating the thesis that economic downturns appear to boost M&A activity, sales jumped following the Asian crisis of 1997-98. While in 1994-96 the sales were put at $7 billion, it had increased three-fold to $21 billion between1997-99. Rajan and Hittari (2009) attribute this increase to the ‘depressed asset values compared to the pre-crisis period’. Indonesia, Korea and Thailand affected most by the crisis reported the highest M&A activity.

China is one of those countries not suffering from the effects of global recession to the same extent as most Western economies. China has been buying assets from Hong Kong, and in 2007 the purchases amounted to 17 percent of the total M&A deals in Asia (excluding Japan). Rajan and Hattari looked at investors from Singapore, Malaysia, India, Korea and Taiwan. This led to the hypothesis that the greater size of the host country and its distance from the target country is a determinant of cross-border M&A activity. They also found that exchange rate variability and availability of credit are factors impacting on M&As, and have generalised this to conclude that ‘financial variables (liquidity and risk) impact global M&A transactions… especially intra-Asian ones’.

On the other hand, it is reported that overall M&As were hit by the global recession and had lost valuation by 76% by 2009. While 54 deals worth $15.5 billion occurred in 2008 between April and August, during the same period 72 M&A deals were worth only $3.73 billion in 2009. The industries dominating the M&A sectors were IT, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, and power. There were also deals involving metal, banking/finance, chemical, petrochemical, construction, engineering, healthcare, manufacturing, media, real estate and textiles.

The influential Chinese consulting firm, China Center for Information Industry Development (CCID) has concluded that although some enterprises are on the brink of bankruptcy during the global recession, it has ‘greatly reduced M&A costs for enterprise’. As industry investment opportunities fall, investment uncertainties increase, M&As show bigger values…. As proven in the 5 previous high tide of global industry capital M&As, every recession period resulting from (a) global financial crisis has been a period of active M&As’.

Most commentators believe that in addition to the empirical research as quoted above, research from a wider perspective to encompass the disciplines of psychology, sociology, anthropology, organisational behaviour, and international management, is needed to make continual improvements to our understanding of the dynamics for the success or failure of mergers and acquisitions, which are increasingly becoming the most popular form of industrial and economic growth across the globe. The evidence regarding how the current global financial crisis affects the proliferation of M&As has not been straightforwardly negative or positive. Many intervening variables have been hinted at in this essay but more systematic work is required for an exhaustive analysis.

Be Prepared for the Problems in Used Car Financing With Solutions Before You Start

Financing properly is more important in financing a used car than when buying a new car. Most problems that occur in buying a used car are due to there being a problem connected with the financing. Getting the used car financing worked out properly is the key to a successful used car purchase.

Most buyers aren’t aware of how important the paper work is to making the deal a successful one or a failure. They view it as paperwork that should be completed as quickly as possible so they can drive away in their new car.

To start with, it’s very important to get the deal agreed upon by the salesman to be put in writing in the contract. This often involves determining monthly auto loan payments based on an interest rate. Sometimes, the interest rate a customer qualifies for is inflated so the dealership can make extra profit.

This headache can easily be avoided by obtaining independent vehicle financing before going to the dealership. This means the consumer can proceed as a “cash buyer” and negotiate only the price of the car. Car salesmen prefer customers to be “monthly payment” buyers because, in this way, it is easier to obscure the total cost of the vehicle.

Independent car financing can be obtained from a bank, credit union or on-line lender. With the popularity of the internet, applying for used car refinance is proving to be simple and very easy to do. Many on line lenders respond very quickly – sometimes as short as 15 minutes by email or telephone. If the application is approved, the borrower is given a credit limit at an established interest rate. Sometimes a blank bank check is issued with no obligation to use it.

“For the majority of consumers, even if you know you have good credit, there is a little apprehension and tension around applying,” one lender said. “So instead of going into a dealership and giving them your information and being sent to the coffee machine to wait for an answer, you can apply on-line, 24/7.”

Most people familiar with how used car dealerships operate confirm that obtaining independent car financing is beneficial to most consumers. .

The most common problems that have a negative impact on a person trying to finance a used car –and their solutions – to ensure that things go smoothly are the following:

Problem #1: Many consumers don’t know what their credit rating is when they apply for an auto loan. The strength of their credit score largely determines what kind of interest rate they will receive. Therefore, it’s critical to make sure your credit report is in the best shape possible before shopping for a car.

SOLUTION: Order a copy of your credit report and look for items that may stand in the way of you getting a good rate. Correct any issues or errors promptly. Are all of your lines of credit in good standing? Are there any signs of identity theft? The credit bureaus will tell you how to correct errors when they send you the report. The following numbers and Web site addresses will assist you in checking your credit.

Providing Quality, Productivity and Efficiency

When I came back from the U.S., I went onto one of the international teams, primarily working in IT, so I was responsible for working throughout Europe and India rolling out IT developments. Left there after 12 years when I got the choice of spending 18 months on the road going around the world, off spending some time with my family, the family came first. Left GE, went to work for a company called Abbey, anybody heard of Abbey National? Yeah, a few people. I signed on the dotted line for Abbey on a Friday. I found out in the media on Monday that Abbey had been just been bought by Banco Santander.

So my career at Abbey was very short-lived-I think I had about five months there. Three of which was on Garden (ph) leave and redundancy. I then went on to join a company called Cattles that had an effect and a loan shark. Now in loan shark they basically lend money to people who cannot afford to pay it back and then go and get the money off of them by taking the property away, breaking their legs, whatever it needs to get the money back. Did not like that very much. So I joined Norwich Union, where I have been for three-and-a-half years working in the top industry, which is Norwich Union Life.

Now this brings us on to the earlier point, which is about Aviva. Aviva is the parent company of all of the Norwich Union businesses, and it is the international arm. So those of you who are not from the UK, anybody seen Aviva advertise? Now you have seen it on the ING presentation earlier because they are one of our competitors. Has anybody else come across Aviva? Shows hands. No! Absolutely nobody. Interesting!

I believe that Aviva is a company that was developed by Norwich Union purely for the purpose of giving us a global brand. Within the U.K., Norwich Union is split down into many businesses, it is a complex animal. Norwich Union Life sells life insurance, deals with investments and with bonds. So in the current climate, we are getting absolutely screwed. A colleague of mine bought 3,000 pounds worth of Aviva shares when they were 4 pounds per share because he figured they could not go any lower. About 12 hours later, they were worth 2.50 pounds. Well, I cannot do the thing-the sums are in euros, but basically he lost half of his money, and he has been on the cascade ever since.

Now what this means for the business is pretty severe, because in this kind of climate anybody who has investments very rapidly tries to take them out. So we have got a massive increase in work load and it is uncovering a lot of processes that are not perhaps quite as Lean as they should be. So there is a fantastic amount of work to be done in the Lean Sigma area that has been highlighted by the current crises.

Norwich Union Insurance is a more traditional insurance company. They sell car insurance, they sell motorcycle insurance, house insurance, often direct to customers.

Norwich Union Healthcare, which we are going to come back on to in a while, is primarily around selling health insurance, little bit like BUPA for those who know the U.K. companies. And there are many other Aviva companies around the world. One of which is Aviva Canada. Aviva Canada has a Lean Sigma team of about three people. There is also a Lean Sigma team in the U.S., so the whole of the United States, fantastically big business, big area has one Lean Sigma person based in Iowa, I believe. So that is another area for expansion for us.

Because Norwich Union is such a convoluted business and because Aviva is even more convoluted, it is very difficult to get a good view as to how many Lean Sigma type resources we have. But I can certainly talk to the bottom end of this stuff, which is over the past 18 months, me and my team have trained 52 Green Belts who come primarily from the business areas. We have trained another 10 Black Belts who were primarily internal, but we have also started training people from other Norwich Union businesses, from insurance, from healthcare, etc. And since 2004, I joined Norwich Union in 2005, and I managed to get back to a few of the old records, the total strengths that we have within Norwich Union Life is somewhere in the region of about 30 Black Belts and about 300 Lean Green Belts.

Now the Black Belts, some of them are in the central team-there are about seven or eight Black Belts in the central team. The rest are scattered throughout the various business areas, because not only do I have Norwich Union Life, Norwich Union Insurance and Norwich Union Healthcare, within Norwich Union Life we have multiple businesses as well in multiple business areas. So those 30 are scattered about as well.

As of about two weeks ago, we have stopped doing any further training of Black Belts or Green Belts, primarily because we have got enough, and it is really now up to the business to start delivering the benefits. However, we are continuing to provide coaching and mentoring to enable the people that are actually out there in the field doing process improvement projects to get the projects delivered in a proper and timely manner. That is really the main focus of what my team is doing now.

OK, the structure of the rest of this rather short presentation is based around the four questions that IQPC asked me to answer. So I put them in there as challenges. The first challenge was around getting buying from senior management and the rest of the business, providing Return On Investment in business and transactional environments. Quite a convoluted question. So I could easily avoid it, very easily as it turns out, because I think-what I have seen over the last couple of days is everybody that seems to be doing presentations, they say more or less the same thing. Yes, it is important and there are lots and lots ways of doing it, but one of the things that hit me quite a long time ago is this question of transactional versus manufacturing, and it does not really seem to make a lot of difference.

Manufacturing businesses have to have transactional processes in that they have to have HR, they have to have finance, they have to talk to customers, they have to deal with ordering, they have to deal with invoicing. So there are still transactional and service based functions within a manufacturing industry.

And so-called transactional businesses like mine, like insurance, we do produce things, despite popular belief. We produce policies, we produce reports, we produce letters, we produce credit cards. So in the end, the requirement to improve processes is the same. It does not matter, it does not matter whether they are manufacturing or transactional, the same things apply.

So as I start looking answering the question, maintaining senior management buying, and to be perfectly honest, has been an absolute nightmare. It has worked and it has not worked, and if I can purposefully click back, we had, when I first joined the company in Norwich Union Life, a very senior, very, very supportive, he was a “Head of” then, he is now a Director. And we were doing really well, we were fantastic team, very well-supported, we were getting the correct buying that we needed and things were going brilliantly. Unfortunately, because he was so good, he got promoted. So he went off to work for a different area. He was looking after us and that was a team called Process Excellence. Simon got promoted and went to look after one of the investment arms.

Well, guess what happened? We started taking a bit of a nosedive, but the investment arm went ballistic, very fantastic stuff. He rolled out process improvement within the investment area that he was in, and they were doing really well. They became one of the best teams that were actually operating within Norwich Union Life, and because he did so well there he got promoted again. And he went on to healthcare, and I would say that currently within the U.K. and within Norwich Union, the most successful process improvement Lean Sigma team is very definitely in healthcare 100 percent because they have got that buy-in. Well, no, not 100 percent because they got that buy-in, but probably 80 percent because they have got that buy-in.

The other advantage that healthcare has is that they are a single silo. So whereas my area of Norwich Union Life has about five different businesses within it, that means five different directors to handle, it means probably 15 or 20 different “Head of-s” to handle; within healthcare there is only one.

The other thing that would come out of all of this that we will be doing is that we have trained the best part of 300 people over in the past four or five years, and it is very, very clear that one of the ways to get buying is to actually let the people who do the work handle process improvements. So something that I will have back on a little bit later on is that we have become catalysts for a change, we do not actually do change, we help people change themselves, that is absolutely vital. The gains you buy in and it also solves one of the problems that I think someone have mentioned earlier around making sure that the control phase actually sticks. If people want to do the change and if the change is their idea, it will stick. So what we need to do is enable them to go about it; it makes our job easier.

It also gives this a bottom of deployment so the people at Ground Zero on the shop floor are making these improvements in doing these projects. So it leaves us to try and get the top-down support, and again that is the problem that we have in the top-down support.

What they have managed to do in healthcare is they have actually managed to get KPIs on change into the Directors and the “Head of-s” bonusable objectives. So the objectives that senior people have in healthcare, one of them is actually around process improvement, and their bonus and their success and their salary for next year actually depends on that. That gets you a fantastic amount of buying.

So much so that the plan for healthcare for next year leading into 2010 is that the process improvement team will be self-funding. So the benefits that they are going to achieve will be feeding directly into that cost, and they will basically be a self-funding entity, they are not going to be a cost on the business at all, which is brilliant.

Final thing on that slide I think is the last one, but do not get hung up on a name-Six Sigma Stigma. You mention Six Sigma and people just dive under a desk somewhere. They do not want to know, it is all about statistics, it is all about tool heads, it would not work here, it does not work in transactional environments; it is complete rubbish is a polite way of putting it. It works fine, but you cannot use the name half of the time. The same with Lean, people do not want to do Lean.

My team has been a Lean Sigma team, it has been a Lean team, it has been a Process Excellence team, it has been a Process Improvement team. Currently we are a Service Transformation team. We are doing the same things, we are using the same tools, but we are using different names. It is important that you do not get hung up on the name, it does not matter what you call it as long as you are using the tools and you are using them in the right way. So I guess basically it is a case of being pragmatic…on that one.

The second challenge that IQPC asked me to look at was embedding process improvement principles that suit the culture. A bit more challenging, but I will go through a few good things that happened to us and some of the things that have not gone quite so well.

It all started before I joined Norwich Union. So it started sometime back in about 2003, and it has been very progressive. In the early days we were looking at Lean and Six Sigma as two completely separate entities. The training was provided by two of three different external consultancies. They were training up Lean specialists, they were training up Lean Green Belts and they were training up Black Belts. The problem that they gave us was if ever we had a project we had to get rather a lot of peopling or people were deciding is it a Lean project or is it a Six Sigma project.

When I came on board, we started looking at slightly different things, and we thought that maybe we could actually combine the two together. Now the idea was, a Black Belt would be full-time employed on process improvement type projects, but the Green Belt would dedicate about 25 percent of their time to the process improvement projects within their business area, but rest of the time they will be doing their day job. Now to a large degree that has actually worked.

What Norwich Insurance also did was to recruit people like myself externally to support the central team. So now we are in a situation where we have central team with external recruited, accredited, certified and certifiable in many cases Master Black Belts and Black Belts. There are some internally-trained Black Belts but not necessarily accredited working within the business areas, and quite a lot of Green Belts are very definitely business area based. So any of the improvement work is mostly carried out by the people who work in the business, which comes back to the point I made earlier about, if the people in the business do it the people in the business own it and it will continue successfully.

What Stands Behind Capital One Credit Cards and Savings Products?

In the times since the global financial crisis, it has increasingly become a concern as to what the backing of the financial institution that issues your credit card or holds your saving account is. There are a number of laws which regulate the financial system and try to ensure that customers can rely on banks to honour their obligations which can be a particular concern in relation to savings products. Title 12 of the United States Code in part 325 specifies a number of ‘capital adequacy requirements’ in relation to all banks. The aim of these requirements is to force banks to adequately provision of a crisis and ensure that they will remain solvent even if there is a large crisis. Banks must report periodically on their arrangements to show regulators that they are meeting the capital adequacy requirements.

Capital One at the moment is, when measured by asset pool, the 8th largest bank in the United States with balance sheet assets of approximately USD$286bn in 2012. Amongst other distinctions, the company is also one of the largest customers of the United States postal service. Its head office is in Fairfax County Virginia and the current chairman, CEO and President of the company is Richard Fairbank. It is one of the fastest growing banks in American history having been founded in 1988 by the current CEO. Like many banks in the American financial system, Capital One was the recipient of a bail out during the sub prime mortgage crisis of 2007 when it received $3.56bn from the United States Government in exchange for 3,555,199 shares in the company. By the end of 2009, the company had managed to buy the government out of the business.

As well as being involved in credit cards, Capital One has an Auto Finance Division which is a substantial part of the company. An entity known as Capital One 360 is also now in existence having formerly been known as ING Direct on the idea that a bank could perform retail services entirely on the basis of an online model. This division of the company has no branches and only maintains a physical presence in the form of call centres and online processing maintenance facilities. The online bank model seems to achieved some success given that the lower overheads from rent and staff result in lower costs to consumers and therefore a better outcome.

One of the notable characteristic of Capital One is that it appears to have retained an ability to ride out the periodic financial storms which emerge in the world of consumer credit. It has grown consistently throughout good and bad times in consumer finance and continues to grow based on the analysis of its most recent financial data. This history of growth and the ability to ride out financial storms appears to bode well for the credit and savings products of Capital One.