An increasing number of fleets are asking how vehicles can be used to improve staff satisfaction, according to Lex Autolease.
While the UK’s decision to leave the European Union may impact on business confidence in the future, Lex Autolease’s new head of consultancy Lauren Pamma told Fleet News that more companies were asking for advice on using vehicles to incentivise staff.
Pamma said: “We have had a lot of customers contact us about using vehicles as a way to incentivise employees, rather than approaching consultancy just as a way to save on costs. I think that speaks to how healthy businesses are in the UK right now.”
Pamma also played down concerns about the future of salary sacrifice as an employee incentive tool. Fleets were still approaching Lex’s consultancy team about the product, she said.
The budget in March included a warning about the popularity of salary sacrifice schemes and their impact on the Government’s tax take.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said the Government remained concerned about the growth of all types of salary sacrifice arrangements and was considering what action, if any, was necessary.
However, Pamma says no decision or timeline for a decision on how the Government will approach salary sacrifice has been announced and, for now, it’s business as usual.
She said: “Companies are still asking about it and while we explain the current stance, it hasn’t really affected the number of businesses looking at salary sacrifice.”
Pamma has a background as a chartered accountant and joined Lex in 2004 in the finance department. She worked as executive assistant to Tim Porter, Lex Autolease managing director, in 2014 in the lead-up to taking on the role of head of consultancy in May this year.
She heads a team of 11, with two specialists on LCVs, seven on pure consultancy and two analysts. The whole team is based remotely and travels to clients around the UK.
In an interview that took place before the Brexit announcement, Pamma said the biggest concern for the consultancy team was the new accountancy changes facing the fleet industry that will mean leased vehicles will need to be brought onto businesses’ balance sheets.
The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) wants to see all leased assets (including vehicles on operating leases) brought onto the balance sheet, to give a more complete picture of a company’s financial position.
Pamma said: “I think these accounting changes are going to have a relatively low impact in comparison to something like property being on the balance sheet but I don’t think the issue has been spoken about enough so I’m not sure how aware the fleet industry is about it as a whole. Lex has run accountancy conferences for customers to make sure they know what’s happening.”
In a view that echoes that of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, Pamma said leasing and rental would continue to retain their status as essential forms of vehicle finance for fleets.
Another area on which Lex’s consultancy team is working is fleet data and Pamma said there were hurdles to leap before fleets could start seeing benefits from connected car technology.
Rival leasing company Alphabet, part of the BMW Group, recently launched real-time diagnostics technology on its BMW and Mini vehicles leased with maintenance.
Pamma confirmed that Lex was working with manufacturers on connected car technology for fleet customers.
She said: “I think with connected cars it’s a case of the technology developing ahead of legislation. A complication is that with multi-brand fleets, there are going to be many different ways data from vehicles is fed back to manufacturers and shared with leasing companies. The nirvana would be a unified way for diagnostic and connected car data to be fed back to us to reinterpret into vehicle management information, but we’ll have to see how things progress.”