How much do you know about Consumer Finance? We talk to Bill McCaffrey, Partner and Head of Consumer Credit at CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro. He discusses the balancing act required of meeting the needs of both the lender and consumer.
Hello Bill, please can you give us a quick introduction about yourself?
Hi. I’m Bill McCaffrey. I’m Head of Consumer Finance at CMS. I’ve been at CMS for nearly 12 years having previously been at Salans and before that in-house at First National Bank. I’ve just ticked off 33 years qualified.
Why did you choose the industry you specialise in and then become a specialist in Consumer Finance?
I started my career in house back in 1990 at a Motor Finance provider. In house was a great place to learn having a balance of legal and commercial work.
I have found working in the credit space fascinating. There are two main reasons. Firstly, consumer credit is an ever changing, complex field. Just when you think you have “got it” the rules are changed! You are certainly kept on your toes. Secondly it is a field that has direct relevance to all of us. Credit is so prevalent in our lives from credit cards, to mortgages to buying a car. Because of this working in credit means working with real people and everyday lives.
As Head of Consumer Finance, what particular area do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy finding practical solutions to complex problems. Sometimes legislation seems to be drafted without appreciating the practical consequences. Interpreting that so that products are compliant, but understandable to, and work for the customers they are designed for, can be a challenge.
What are the biggest changes you’ve noticed in financial services during your career?
One of the greatest challenges has been the advent of mobile communication. When I started almost all credit agreements were on carbonated paper (for copies), and signed in person, in pen. Now one can contract over a smartphone. Unfortunately, much of the legislation was drafted before smartphones were dreamt of which creates its own challenges.
Who or what has motivated you to be successful in your profession?
I tend to act for the lenders rather than the borrowers. I have, however, always tried to keep in mind that individually we are all consumers. It’s important to ensure the products and services that I have worked on not only meet the lenders’ commercial requirements, but do so in a way that provides a good service for the end customer.
Do you feel there is a talent shortage in the financial services sector?
I have been exceedingly lucky to work with many exceptionally talented, bright and diligent people that I have to say no.
What advice would you give others who are just starting their career?
If starting a career in law, I would say to try and experience as many different aspects as possible. You might find that you like something that you never expected. But also a broad experience simply makes one, I think, a better lawyer.
Bill McCaffrey, CMS, was talking to Robert Hunter, Content Manager at AJ Chambers.
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