Mon, 23 Jan 2023

This month marks our 50th anniversary — a fantastic milestone to celebrate. Over the past five decades, we have pioneered, anticipated change and adapted to meet the evolving needs of our customers, partners and colleagues.

Highlighting all the achievements and advancements made over the past half a century may take a while; so, instead, we’ve been reflecting on some of our stand-out moments.

Being a market-leader

Innovation is key at BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK. We started out in 1973 as Selfridges Finance Limited, and it's incredible to see how much the business has transformed over the past 50 years.

With retail embedded in our DNA, we developed into a store card business. In the mid-1990s, we changed our name to Creation (amalgam of credit and information) and expanded our offer by issuing retail credit cards for many household brands — a revolutionary event in the market. The data collected through the credit cards helped us gain better insight in our partners’ customers, allowing them to drive more sales. Our ability to anticipate innovation and adapt to change also enabled us to become the first retail financial provider to enable mobile top ups at ATMs and allow customers in Selfridges to make a purchase via an SMS in 2003.

Making a positive impact on our local communities

At the core of our business was always a strong set of values and community. In 2008, we brought this together with the launch of our ‘Make a Difference’ programme. The programme was designed to give colleagues the opportunity to support their local communities and causes close to their hearts through fundraising and volunteering. To accelerate our purpose of making a positive impact, colleagues have one day per year to volunteer as part of our global BNP Paribas 1MillionHours2Help campaign. Last year, UK colleagues volunteered 950 hours to local charities, including many of our team transforming a Sense UK residential home in West Bromwich, where their hard work resulted in a refresh of two bedrooms, two bathrooms and common spaces that are now frequently enjoyed by residents.

Launched Your Plan & motor finance solutions

Back in 2006, we led the acquisition of Open and Direct, bringing together revolving and fixed-term expertise to create new solutions in the traditional point-of-sale market. For instance, we challenged the use of instalment loans by launching Your Plan — an option that combined the certainty of a fixed-term loan with the controlled flexibility of a credit line and ease of repeat spend. We innovated and created a product that allows customers to choose what they want to buy, work out how long they want to pay and how much they can afford each month. The product continues to help leading retailers including retail giant Currys, to give customers the flexibility to spread out the payments in a way that works for them.

Then in 2018, we launched our motor finance solution, combining the strength and depth of BNP Paribas motor experience in the UK. We now have a breadth of offerings, including retail motor finance and leisure and motorhome finance. Plus, we offer financing for both new and used Battery Electric Vehicles on our HP and PCP products following the increased consumer demand and greater selection of vehicles becoming available, reinforcing our ability to respond to trends in the market.

Successfully navigated COVID-19 pandemic

More recently, we supported our teams, customers and partners as they navigated the coronavirus crisis and subsequent lockdown measures through innovative solutions that enabled us to become an even better employer, reduce our environmental impact and help impacted customers quickly set up payments for holidays via Open Banking. Within two weeks, we made the impossible possible by transitioning our entire workforce of 720 colleagues to remote working, allowing us to continue serving our customers and partners from the safety of our new ‘working environment’.

Being recognised as a Top Employer

In 2021, 2022 and now our 50th year, we’ve been recognised as one of the top employers in the country and Europe by the Top Employers Institute (the global authority on recognising excellence in People Practices), which showcases our dedication to a better world of work and reinforces our commitment to be a role model employer.

Stephen Hunt, our CEO, explained: “Since 1973, we have adapted, embraced change, overcome hurdles, navigated credit crises, seized opportunities, driven innovation, and focussed on our vision to be a force for positive change.

“None of these successes would be possible though if it wasn’t for our incredible colleagues — both past and present — making it happen. Our business is centred around our people, and it is thanks to them and their contribution that for 50 years, we’ve been helping our partners grow their business with simple, straightforward finance solutions their customers can trust.

“Together, we are promoting responsible and sustainable consumption, helping our customers make the small and large changes in their life and encouraging our partners to grow in a responsible way. But, most importantly, we are maintaining our position as a leader in financial services by striving to be the forefront of innovation in the sector.”

Looking ahead

As we enter our 50th year, we’re not only celebrating our incredible heritage but also asking ourselves: what could we do more of, how can we boost innovation, and how can we continue to be a force for positive change?

Stephen said: “Our 2025 plan will see big transformations in our digital, data and decisioning capabilities, boosting innovation within our business and driving our partnerships forward. So far, we’re planning to supercharge our role of Corporate Challenge Partner for Serendip — SuperTech’s incubator programme — to fast-track innovative ideas that will revolutionise the banking and financial sector, improve financial processes, and provide economic opportunities for emerging FinTech businesses.

“We continue to focus on the development of partnerships with the UK’s biggest brands; the latest being B&Q, the UK’s leading DIY retailer. Through this partnership, BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK and B&Q will be working together to make lives better with a retail finance partnership that will be available in all stores throughout the UK.

“Plus, being part of the BNP Paribas Group, the bank for a changing world, we remain committed to building a more sustainable future, where Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goes beyond altruism. Last year, our UK team donated over 950 hours of time to charitable causes, feeding into the wider global bank’s ‘1MillionHours2Help’ initiative. In our 50th year, we’re aiming to exceed that target and make an even bigger positive impact”

“We’ve been there for our customers, partners and colleagues for 50 years, and will continue to be there. Hitting this anniversary is a great achievement and we want to thank them all for their trust as we continue this exciting, transformational journey together.”

Find out more about our work and vision here: