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Vanquis Bank is a subsidiary of the Provident Financial Group. Established in 2002 it offers credit cards under the VISA brand for UK residents with a limited or uneven credit history. It also offers a fixed rate bond service, launched in 2011.
Vanquis was set up by Provident Financial and licensed for Consumer Credit by the OFT in 2002. It received authorisation from the Financial Services Authority the following year. Initially conceived as a pilot scheme from Provident, it received approval from the parent group to expand in 2004 and relocated to the current Head Office location in London in 2005.
Following extensive marketing and advertising, increased business volumes resulted in the customer services department moving to larger premises at Chatham in 2008, in part of what used to be the Chatham Naval Dockyards and in 2009 Vanquis rebranded, launched new credit cards and won the Credit Provider of the Year at the Credit Today Awards, something it would repeat in 2010, 2011 and 2012. In 2011 a further call centre was opened in Bradford, and a High Yield Bond product was authorised by the FSA. Vanquis also received a Passport banking license to operate in Poland in 2012.
Vanquis is overseen by the Provident Financial board in addition to its own management team. John de Blocq van Kuffeler is non-executive Chairman of Provident after joining the group as Chief Executive in 1991 from Brown Shipley Holdings PLC. He is also Chairman of Huveaux PLC.
Managing Director Michael Lenora joined Provident in 2007 after holding positions in Barclaycard and Goldman Sachs.
The head office of Vanquis is at 12 Arthur Street in London. Originally called Minster House, it was redeveloped in 2004 by HKR Architects and Shieldpoint Ltd. The site around Arthur Street has uncovered historical artefacts dating from Roman waterfront development around 1st- 3rd Century AD.
In 2011 Vanquis opened an office in the new Southgate Complex development at 1 Godwin street in Bradford.
Vanquis Bank offer two main credit building cards, the Vanquis Card which has a representative APR varying from 39.9% to 59.9% depending on the credit circumstances of the applicant, and the Aquis card, which has a representative APR of 29.8%. Both are licensed under VISA.
Vanquis provided above-estimated results in 2010, posting revenue of 162 million pounds which helped Provident to strong end-of-year figures. Many have attributed the gains made by Vanquis and Provident to the continued UK recession and the difficulty of obtaining credit from mainstream lenders with existing adverse credit, however Vanquis cite that despite an increase in applications, acceptance rates are not significantly higher.
Vanquis has received criticism on credit forum groups such as Money Saving Expert for the high interest charged on their product cards and charges levied on defaulted payments.
Provident Financial has also been scrutinised on its doorstep lending policy and even received negative comments from its own collectors. In 2011 Peter Crook was asked to give evidence before Parliament with other adverse credit lenders on a hearing about debt management.
John de Blocq van Kuffeler's involvement with Provident was also called into question following his invitation to the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton. UK Charity Barnados has claimed that adverse credit companies are "cashing in" during the recession.
The official response on the Vanquis website is that responsible use of the card products builds credit and assist users in improving their credit rating, which means they may be able to apply for more affordable forms of credit in future.
Vanquis Bank engage in a number of charitable causes including Hatua, a charity created to educate children in the poorest parts of Kenya and provide books, computer equipment, learning resources and motivational guidance to talented pupils.