Wed, 20 Dec 2023

2023 has been a special year for BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK as we celebrated our 50th anniversary. Over the past five decades, we have pioneered, anticipated change and adapted to meet the evolving needs of our customers, partners and colleagues.

With the year drawing to a close, we’ve been looking at our stand-out moments of celebration, reflecting on some of the successes of BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK team members across the business.

Being recognised as a Top Employer

At the start of the year, we were recognised as one of the top employers in the country and Europe for the third year running. Being named a Top Employer by the Top Employers Institute (the global authority on recognising excellence in People Practices) showcased our dedication to a better world of work and reinforced our commitment to being a role model employer.

Stephen Hunt, CEO at BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK, says: “As a business, we are focused on always doing the right thing, which is why we are so proud to have been recognised as a role model employer by the Top Employers Institute for the third year running!

“Our commitment to making BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK a great place to work is at the heart of everything we do. Not resting on our laurels, we know there is still more to be done and that is a key focus of our strategy in 2024 to create an even better place to work.”

Promoting staff mental health in the workplace

Supporting our colleagues' wellbeing is a key priority at BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK, which meant that being one of 61 organisations to take part in Mind’s seventh annual Workplace Wellbeing Index, and being recognised with a Silver Award, was a particular highlight.

Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index is a benchmark of best policy and practice, celebrating the good work employers do to promote and support positive mental health, and providing key recommendations on areas where there is room to improve. This year, Mind surveyed almost 16,000 employees across the 61 employers participating in the Index.

Susan Farmer, Chief People Officer at BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK, said: “Creating a supportive and inclusive work environment is one of my core priorities. It’s good to talk about mental health, and, more importantly, to feel supported when you do talk about it. That’s why I’m delighted that BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK was recognised for its achievements in promoting staff mental health and look forward to developing our current initiatives in the new year.”

Hosting a 50th anniversary alumni event  

This summer, we welcomed colleagues from across BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK’s 50-year history to our Solihull offices to honour the significant milestone.

Over 80 current and former employees from across the UK, who worked for the company pre-2000, united at our headquarters to not only share their memories of the past, but also be thanked for their dedication to the business, their part in its success, and a celebration of the future. 

Our CEO, Stephen Hunt, said: “Lots of people hadn’t seen each other for years but, within minutes, it was like everyone still worked together.”

One of the biggest highlights of the day was when Jon Collins, who used to work for the company’s IT department, surprised his mother, Kathy Collins, who worked in the customer service team, by flying in from Australia just days before so they could both join the event.

Innovating at pace

Innovation is at the heart of BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK. So, in our 50th year, we looked at different ways to continue innovating at pace in a way that matters to our customers, partners and colleagues.

In the lead-up to World Creativity and Innovation Day, and the end of UK Fintech Week, we hosted our very first Innovation Week where colleagues across our Solihull and Belfast offices were invited to a series of in-person and virtual events.

The five days were a great success with colleagues across the business learning how we’re innovating for our future, innovating for our customers, innovating with data and technology, innovating at pace, and innovating beyond our business.

Richard Newland, Chief Customer Officer, said: “Innovation is often associated with AI, robotics, machine learning or IT, but at BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK, we believe that everybody can innovate — it’s just being able to solve an existing problem in a different way. 

“By listening to our customers, identifying trends in their behaviour and reacting to change in the wider market, we can provide a frictionless, personalised experience for our customers. This focus on creating an experience which is led by customer needs is vital to staying ahead of the services provided by our competitors and a big factor in why we’ve dedicated a whole day towards it during ‘Our Innovation Week’.”

Fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace

A big part of our responsibility as Top Employer is to create an environment where our teams feel comfortable in bringing their whole selves to work. That’s why, hosting our very own Inclusion Week at both our Solihull and Belfast offices was a memorable moment of the year as it helped us shine a spotlight on the multiple D&I initiatives across the business.

Over the week, we held several activities including a Diwali celebration event in the office as well as a visit to a Hindu temple and a ‘Big Network Get Together’ event to promote the benefits of committee membership.  All of this provided a springboard for the future and increased colleagues’ understanding of the multitude of ways that we can support them.

Our new partnership with Wren Kitchens

We were pleased to announce our partnership with Wren Kitchens, the UK's top kitchen retailer. Wren, known for designing, manufacturing, and delivering kitchens in the UK, recently expanded into fitted bedrooms with a team of over 6,000 members and plans for further growth in the US.

Our collaboration focuses on providing Wren's customers with affordable, kitchen solutions. With over 50 years of experience, BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK, through its consumer brand Creation, offers single fixed-term loans for Wren Kitchens' customers to make their products accessible.

The partnership allows Wren Kitchens' expansion and product range development. CEO Stephen Hunt expressed delight at being chosen as Wren Kitchens' new retail finance partner, emphasising a shared commitment to customer experience.

50 days of volunteering, complete!

Community impact is central to our mission. In celebration of our 50th anniversary, we pledged 1,200 volunteer hours across the organisation, equivalent to 50 days — and we surpassed our target. Partnering with Digital Innovators, we engaged in a five-week collaboration with young talent from Solihull College through the Transition-To-Work programme.

Focusing on sustainability challenges, like making fast fashion sustainable and reducing food waste, students collaborated with our executive team. Volunteers, including our Chief Operations Officer, Penny Clarke, provided insights, shared experiences, and guided ideation sessions.

Birmingham Tech Week

We hosted the Connector Series event in collaboration with SuperTech, bringing together 14 AI-focused tech businesses during Birmingham Tech Week. The session featured a speed networking session where these companies rotated through stations like risk, marketing, and IT & data, engaging with senior executives.

Discussions centered on leveraging AI to enhance our transformation plans, from real-time customer support for vulnerability to virtual assistants improving financial well-being. This initiative built on the success of a prior programme with SuperTech, addressing challenges like data visualisation and chatbots.

Welcomed new faces

We welcomed Penny Clarke as our new COO, and also strengthened our retail finance team with the appointment of a Commercial Director, Balraj Dev. Balraj joined us in autumn to head up the retail finance team to accelerate new and existing partnerships and drive forward our transformation journey.

Balraj shared: “I am excited to join the company at such a pivotal time in their history. Not only is it their 50th anniversary, but, with significant growth in our partnerships, I am looking forward to working with the team to expand our position as leaders in retail finance and ensure we continue to deliver value and best service for both our partners and our customers.”

Our motor teams accelerates

Since its 2018 launch, our motor finance solutions have been pivotal in providing customers with flexible financial solutions. In 2021, the motor finance team expanded its offerings to the leisure market, including motorhomes and campervans. Despite challenges in the financial sector, the team strengthened partnerships, maintained profitability, and introduced the innovative soft search feature.

Soft search allows customers to explore finance options without impacting their credit score, aligning with BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK's commitment to responsible finance.

The motor finance team's achievements were celebrated with four nominations at the Credit Strategy Car Finance Awards 2023, with Ashley Plumb winning the Rising Star Award. Motor Sales Director Robert Hutchinson and Managing Director of Motor Finance Andrew Brameld shared insights on soft search's transformative impact, emphasising the company's dedication to improving customer experiences and remaining at the forefront of industry developments.

Celebrating Success Awards

Last, but certainly not least, we brought all our colleagues together from Solihull and Belfast to celebrate fifty amazing years, including our ‘Celebrating Success Awards’.

With 12 awards up for grabs, ranging from Team of the Year Award to CEO Recognition Award, there was lots of praise shared, making it the perfect end to 2023.

Thank you to everyone, both colleagues and partners, for helping us to celebrate our 50th year. We look forward to building on this together in 2024.