Ex-Rock exec lands on Provident's doorstep

By Mark Kleinman, City Editor
The struggling doorstep lender Provident Financial has turned to an executive involved in salvaging value from the wreckage of the nationalised Northern Rock to aid its revival.
Sky News has learnt that Provident, which experienced one of the London market's biggest-ever one-day share price falls when it unveiled a massive profit warning in August, has appointed Rick Hunkin as its first group chief risk officer.
Mr Hunkin, who takes up his new role next week, was most recently in the same position at Williams & Glyn, the unit of Royal Bank of Scotland that had been intended to launch as a standalone lender.After that plan was aborted, Mr Hunkin and his fellow executives left RBS.His re-emergence at Provident, which trades under brands including Vanquis Bank and Moneybarn, will provide a fillip to the company as it continues its search for a new chief executive.Peter Crook, the former boss, stepped down after announcing in the summer that profits would fall by at least €180m this year.Mr Crook also stepped down from a number of other boards in the wake of his exit from Provident.The company has not had a single executive overseeing its risk function in the past, and by appointing Mr Hunkin - who also worked for Tesco Bank - to the role, it is likely to provide some reassurance to shareholders.
Since the summer, Provident has been focused on rebuilding its doorstep lending business by employing an additional 300 'customer experience managers' whose role is to visit customers' homes.It said the recovery plan "should allow the business to own and manage all aspects of the customer journey and exercise greater control over customer interactions"."The primary focus of the recovery plan is to re-establish relationships with customers, stabilise the operation of the business and improve collections performance," Provident said last month.It continues to be in talks with the Financial Conduct Authority about a repayment option plan from its Vanquis Bank operation which allows the option for customers to have a break from monthly repayments - in return for a fee.Provident, which has scrapped its full-year dividend, has seen its shares recover slightly since August.However, they are still down by almost 70% over the last year, giving the former FTSE-100 company a market value of just under €1.4bn.Provident declined to comment on Mr Hunkin's appointment.
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