Blog 5 minute readCompany: Remarkable Group Campaign: Cash Converters: Rising to the challenge Category: Public Affairs Campaign of the Year - South - Shortlist Objective Build a profile: CCUK has operated for 20 years in the UK where it has more than 220 stores, with 700 worldwide. The business’s core is retail, buying and selling goods; however, the company recently expanded its personal finance offer to include short term credit. Build advocacy: CCUK welcomes more than 10,000 customers into its stores weekly. Aside from these supporters Remarkable was charged with recruiting advocates within Parliament, consumer groups, think tanks and consumer champions. Influence the debate: CCUK is a Council Member of the Consumer Finance Association (CFA), the trade association representing 70 per cent of the UK payday sector. Despite this, it is also important that CCUK is positioned as a leading authority due to its bespoke business model. Strategy & Target Audience Through proactive and reactive engagement, Remarkable ensured CCUK established long-term relationships across the political spectrum and played a clear thought leadership role across relevant policy sectors. The first element of the campaign, to understand MPs’ perceptions and opinions of the industry and CCUK, was via an independent survey of 150 MPs and robust monitoring of government and committee discussions. From this a tactical contact programme was developed to understand the priority contacts. The strategy is divided into four strands: Constituency commitment programme: An open door policy is in place at all CCUK stores. This involves inviting MPs to their local store to learn about the business and meet staff and customers. Westminster engagement programme: MPs and Peers with a keen interest in consumer credit issues, financial inclusion and regulation were also contacted, and Remarkable ran a successful Parliamentary programme to reach the identified CCUK150 – a database of influential ministers, MPs, peers, and key stakeholders from think tanks, pressure groups and the third sector. Consumer advocates panel: Working closely with the network of stores, Remarkable established a wide panel of advocates demonstrating the reach of CCUK’s offer across demographics. Research, review and reply: As part of the day-to-day strategy, Remarkable closely monitors debates, consultation announcements and importantly social media so CCUK can immediately respond. In each of the four strategy areas, the foundations are built on strong key messaging and honest, open dialogue and relationships. Action The Government wants to ensure that the consumer credit regulatory regime is fit for the future, flexible and can keep pace with an innovative market, so the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DBIS) published ‘A new approach to financial regulation: consultation on reforming the consumer credit regime’. Remarkable worked with the Consumer Finance Association to prepare an industry response. On the back of this consultation, DBIS appointed the Personal Finance Research Centre (University of Bristol) to research the impact on business and consumers of a variable cap on the total cost of credit. Remarkable worked with CCUK on its response, making it clear the company welcomed tighter regulation and better education for consumers to make informed decisions, but that price controls would bring greater financial exclusion not inclusion. Further to the research by DBIS, the Government announced that the Financial Services Bill includes provisions to enable a transfer of responsibility for consumer credit to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The Bill has passed through the House of Commons and is currently in the House of Lords. Remarkable has been engaging via MP store meetings, meetings at Westminster with MPs and peers, and briefing papers informing them of the impact of a change in the regulation to the short term credit sector and pushing for the continuation of self-regulation via an enhanced industry Code of Conduct and closer engagement with DBIS. Remarkable has been instrumental in developing with other CFA council members a more robust Code of Practice due to be launched in the summer. Remarkable also worked with the executive team at CCUK to develop a Customer Charter for display in all CCUK stores. Anti short term loan campaigner Stella Creasy, MP, put forward an amendment to the Financial Services Bill to give the FCA powers to introduce a cap on the total cost of credit. Remarkable provided all MPs that visited stores and met CCUK in Parliament with updates on the impact this would have on customers. Further to the DBIS activity, the OFT launched an extensive review of the payday lending sector, to investigate compliance with the Consumer Credit Act and the OFT's guidance on irresponsible lending. Remarkable helped CCUK with the on-site inspections and supported franchisees and corporate teams in completing the industry wide surveys. As part of the wider stakeholder engagement activity, Remarkable set up productive meetings with consumer advice organisations such as Credit Action, Step Change and Christians Against Poverty (CAP). Results • 34 MP store visits in the last nine months with 100% opinion change measured using pre and exit survey • 76 per cent of MPs included the press release and image on their website post visit • 20 pieces of media coverage from MP visits • Positive stakeholder meetings with: - Credit Action – shared proposal for CCUK to be audited for the Quality Mark - Step Change - CAP - Centrepoint – CSR meeting • Financial Services Bill – Stella Creasy MP amendment defeated. 30/34 (88 per cent) of MPs that visited stores voted against her amendment • Inclusion on the CFA, PA and PR communications groups to influence strategy • 145 customer advocate testimonials secured. These have been used to interact, inform and engage key political contacts as well as the media both regionally and nationally • CCUK Customer charter developed for use in stores across the range of services • CFA Code of Practice development driven by CCUK The PRmoment Golden Hedgehog Awards 2014 are now open for entries. 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