I’M in the airy atrium of the Select Car Leasing office in Reading. It’s a grey day but brightened by the fact that I’m going to try and unravel what appears on the outside to be a complex arrangement between leasing broker Select Car Leasing and new multimarque provider Select Lease by Mobilize.

And just in the names lies the confusion. A confusion which I hope to unravel. Are they the same? What’s the demarcation? Can we truly believe they are separate?

Who knows?

I’m taken upstairs and led through Select Car Leasing offices into a fully glazed inner office that can only be accessed by a special key fob that contains 17 desks and a small meeting room.

In there is the familiar face of Graham Conway, Managing Director of Select Car Leasing and the not so familiar face of Jonathan Smith, who is the General Manager of Select Lease by Mobilize.

And I guess this is the first part of the understanding: although both entities are connected, they are not touching.

Graham laughs and says this is actually the first time that he has ever been in the meeting room. He has no access to it, just like everyone else in Select Car Leasing. In fact, they even use separate facilities on different floors to ensure separation continues throughout the two businesses.

“We’ve thought very carefully about it,” says Jonathan. “We can understand the nervousness about this. It is the sort of detail we have in the agreement.”

Talking of the agreement - who is what?

Jonathan Smith

If you recall, in August 2023, Mobilize Financial Services, which is a trading name of RCI Financial Services, bought just over a third of Reading-based leasing broker Select Car Leasing. In return Select owners Mark Tongue and James O’Malley acquired a 15% stake in Mobilize Lease&Co UK Ltd, a subsidiary of RCI Bank UK Ltd.

What was formerly Renault Financial Services and Dacia Financial Services had recently rebranded as Mobilize Financial Services, which then created a new company called Select Lease by Mobilize.

No wonder there’s recognition confusion out there in the traps!

But Jonathan (above right) explains the rationale.

“Select Lease by Mobilize is a funder and takes the risk on vehicles;  we are not a broker. The business was born from RCI which was the captive finance company for Renault and Nissan. Over the past few years RCI onboarded more than 20 brokers, providing them with Renault and Nissan finance underwriting. 

“But we had an ambition to broaden out to become multimarque and at the same time we were building a stronger relationship with Select Car Leasing which was one of the brokers in our programme. Strategically we believed there was an alignment there. And we are taking the expertise of Graham and Select into forming an effective multimarque proposition.”

Graham says that he, along with James O’Malley and Mark Tongue, sit on the Select Lease by Mobilize governance board – but not the operational board.

“Data governance, financial control and commercial integrity of the two businesses is really important,” adds Graham.

To emphasise the point, Jonathan adds:

“We are engaging with our broker partners and they need to know that any discussion we have with new OEM partners are with us and our brokers. That information does not get shared with Select Car Leasing.”

He adds that much of the suspicion I am voicing about the confusion over identities and data leakage has also been aired by Select Lease by Mobilize’s broker partners at a special meeting to present the new arrangement.

“The brokers were rightly concerned that they would be hit by Select Lease branding on any documentation we supplied. So we have branded all touch points as Mobilize Lease&Co. So any customer sent to us by Nationwide Vehicle Contracts, for example, Leasing Options or whomever will only see Mobilize Lease&Co, so there is no confusion for customers.”

[As an aside, I do quietly wonder why RCI didn’t just rebrand to Mobilize Lease&Co, which would have eliminated any confusion over branding, but that decision has sailed…]

However, Jonathan does go on to say that “where brokers see the name Select Lease by Mobilize, we are proud of our association, and wanted a brand name to recognise that strategic partnership.”

He adds that it’s not just the 20 plus brokers in the current programme who should be confident about dealing with Select Lease by Mobilize, but the brokers they intend to take on in the future.

“What the upper limit on brokers is I don’t know,” Jonathan continues. “This is where Graham’s involvement with the BVRLA and the market comes in: he will have some brokers in mind that should be introduced to us.”

How has the new arrangement impacted Select Car Leasing?

Graham ConwayGraham (pictured right) points out that with 36.6% of Select now owned by Mobilize Financial Services there had in fact been little impact on the day to day running of this highly successful brokerage.

 “We have two more board members  – Alice Altemaire and Enrico Rossini – and as a standalone independent car leasing broker we are in pretty good shape. We are a 245 strong team with another eight locations with our Select ARs which takes us to another 75 people. 

“Over the last five years, we’ve spent a lot of time getting the business to operate as a corporate organisation without interrupting the core nature of the business. As time moves on we’ll definitely take advantage of the expertise of our two new board members.”

Working towards a 30k full year target

They will no doubt help guide the business as it grows in volume year on year. “It’s an evolving sector and we’ve just gone through two years of exceptionally difficult trading,” Graham continues. 

“Now consumer confidence is better and supply is better, we have aspirations to do 30,000 units FY25 this year which will put us right up there as the largest leasing broker while still delivering five star customer service. The efficiencies we’re creating through the customer journey will help us achieve that.

“But to keep at the forefront of the sector you can’t stand still. So we’ll be offering mobility solutions that will be fully end-to-end automated plus we’ll have subscription services. Beyond that we’ll be partnering with providers in EV charging and providers in home for full solutions around the electric vehicle.”

This all sounds hugely positive against what remains an uncertain market. But. But, I still need to ask this.

What about special intra-deal treatment between both companies?

From Jonathan there comes an absolute “No”. 

He says: “We are in a competitive environment and must give equal prominence to all our brokers. We will fight to be competitive across the piece. And while we are delighted to fund some Select Car Leasing business we prioritise our relationships across all our brokers.”

Graham adds that the brokerage needs to provide comfort to all the partners it deals with whether they are funders, dealers or OEMs

“As an example, we have agreement with other funders that we have a cap on the amount of business we can write with Select Lease by Mobilize,” adds Graham. “Let’s be clear, we can’t achieve our targets by only dealing with Mobilize. And, by the same token, Mobilize cannot achieve what they want to do by only working with us.” 

No doubt that positioning will become more apparent as Select Lease by Mobilize begins to operate more fully in the market and onboards further brokers.

Like captives before it – BMW and Volkswagen, for example – branching out into multimarque leasing takes time to establish. Select Lease by Mobilize is no doubt hoping that, with the help of strategic Select Car Leasing input, they can shortcut some of that timeline.

Show CommentsClose Comments

Leave a comment