GM Financial set to open San Antonio Service Center

FORT WORTH, Texas - 

GM Financial is ready to have a Texas-sized celebration on Thursday.

The captive — which also is one of the Silver Sponsors of Used Car Week —  will host the grand opening of its new service center in San Antonio; an event that will feature several notable city, county and state officials and community leaders as speakers.

“We are excited to celebrate the grand opening of our San Antonio Service Center, which expands our economic and employment presence in the state of Texas,” GM Financial president and chief executive officer Dan Berce said. “Along with our parent company, General Motors, we are proud of our long history in the state, where together we employ more than 11,000 people, all committed to building and financing some of the best vehicles in the world.”

GM Financial broke ground on its new facility of 100,000 square-feet last April. The center sits on 13.8 acres of land off of Raymond E. Stotzer Freeway at the intersection of Westover Link and North Ellison Drive.

In the short time it has been operational, GM Financial highlighted this facility has already added more than 200 jobs in the region, with the ability to house up to 700 employees at maximum capacity. The center could also potentially drive more than $300 million in total economic output in the first 10 years of operation, according to analysis conducted by Impact DataSource.

As part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony, GM Financial will also present Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Antonio with two ‘Cool Cars’ as part of its Cool Cars for Remarkable Kids program — the 17th Ronald McDonald House to receive a vehicle since program launch earlier this year.

Cool Cars for Remarkable Kids provides late-model SUVs to Ronald McDonald Houses across the country, allowing children and their families transportation support while staying at a House. To support this local effort, North Park Chevrolet Castroville has also agreed to sponsor service and maintenance for both Cool Cars in 2017-2018.

Additionally, the dealership coordinated a supplies donation drive in support of the House, collecting much-needed wish list items for visiting families.

GM Financial plans to deliver approximately 30 vehicles nationwide in total through this program this year.

“Families with sick children sometimes must travel long distances to access the best medical care for their children, and may not be able to bring or keep their personal vehicle with them for the duration of their stay with us,” said Pat Bivin, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Antonio.

“Through the support of GM Financial and their Cool Cars for Remarkable Kids program, our three Ronald McDonald Houses will be able to provide these families with necessities they would be unable to obtain on their own,” Bivin continued.

Since becoming General Motors’ captive finance company in 2010, GM Financial has significantly expanded its capabilities, now offering a full spectrum of retail, lease and commercial lending products and services to 14,000 dealers worldwide.

The company, which employs nearly 8,000 team members in the U.S. and Canada, also has service centers in Arlington, Texas, Chandler, Ariz., Huntersville, N.C., and, Peterborough, Ontario. The company has 17 credit centers across the U.S. and Canada, including one in San Antonio, and is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas.

Launcher integrates Carfax into LOS platform


Here’s a development aimed at helping to keep potentially flood-damaged and other compromised vehicles out of your company’s portfolio.

This week, Launcher — a technology provider specializing in subprime automotive finance originations, has integrated access to Carfax Vehicle History Reports into its core product, the appTRAKER Loan Origination System.

Now, subprime auto finance companies can get Carfax information for used vehicles before executing a vehicle installment contract, protecting both the lender and the potential borrower.

“An important piece of the underwriting process is being able to accurately assess the value of a vehicle as collateral,” Launcher president Nikh Nath said. “Lenders have been asking for this integration, so we are happy to meet their needs.”

Launcher’s appTRAKER Loan Origination System is designed specifically for subprime auto finance companies so every aspect of the system, including collateral assessment, is carefully aligned with the goals of the subprime loan origination process.

Using the vehicle identification number (VIN) or license plate information, finance companies can see Carfax data that helps them identify potentially dangerous and costly issues such as accidents, flood damage, odometer fraud, title washing and more. These problems can lower a vehicle's value by up to 50 percent, lead to costly repairs, and increase the risk of loan default.

“Thousands of lenders use Carfax data to help better assess the condition and value of used cars,” said David Lackey, general manager of the Carfax banking and insurance group. “While there are lots of great used cars available there are also many with potential problems, including the hundreds of thousands flooded as a result of Hurricane’s Harvey and Irma.

“Working with partners like Launcher, subprime lenders can easily avoid these and other problem vehicles while using the new VIN-specific Carfax History-Based Value to more accurately set their loan-to-value ratio based on a vehicle’s unique history,” Lackey continued.

5 crucial VSC components to review with customers


GWC Warranty acknowledged it can be a challenge for dealership staff to include a vehicle service contract in the auto financing package, especially if customers are already stretching their budgets to meet the monthly payment requirements.

So when a VSC is purchased, GWC recommended that store personnel review five little-known but vital terms of a vehicle service contract that, when shared with the customer, can improve the post-sale experience.

According to a recent company blog, those five crucial points include:

1. Where to take a vehicle for repairs.

GWC Warranty suggested that stores educate customers up front about the best places to take their vehicle in the event of a breakdown.

“Know the rate at which your service contract reimburses labor hours and recommend shops (if you don’t have one of your own) that you know will work within a reasonable labor rate,” the company said. “Otherwise, you can direct your customers to look up service facilities that have an existing relationship with your service contract provider.

“This can be especially helpful should a breakdown occur away from home, so be sure to show your customers where they can find this information,” GWC Warranty continued.

2. Deductible.

The company noted that it will always help manage expectations to be upfront with a customer about what he or she could expect to pay in the event of a breakdown.

“You don’t want your customer leaving your dealership thinking every penny will be covered if the reality is that a deductible will be due at the time of repairs,” GWC Warranty said.

The company explained that dealerships often have two options in this situation. They can educate customers on the deductible, or can explain the value in purchasing a zero-deductible plan.

3. Parts used for repairs.

GWC Warranty reiterated that it’s standard throughout the industry to use parts of similar kind and quality when making repairs with a vehicle service contract.

“Customers unaware of this can sometimes be caught off guard by used parts being used during their repairs,” the company said. “Here is an opportunity to relay the value of your quality service contract provider, to let your customers know that you have chosen a reputable service contract company because of its knowledge about quality parts — both new and used.”

4. Limits of liability.

If the customer is purchasing a service contract with a limit of liability, GWC Warranty pointed out that it’s important that dealerships explain this part of the contract.

“Whether it’s a set dollar amount or a vehicle’s NADA value, your customer is better off knowing this information early on as opposed to after an unexpected bill lands on his or her lap,” the company said.

5. Roadside assistance, towing and rental car procedures.

GWC Warranty closed by noting the first step customers often will take after a breakdown is to solidify their transportation moving forward. First will be roadside assistance and towing, followed shortly by the need for a rental car.

“If the plan your customer purchases includes these benefits, show them where they can find out how to use them,” the company said.

“If they aren’t purchasing a plan with roadside, towing and rental, use this as an opportunity to upsell them into coverage that will better protect them in the event of a breakdown,” the company added.

While it might seem like many steps, GWC Warranty emphasized the potential benefits.

“A better educated customer will be a happier customer in the long run — one that knows what to expect from a service contract experience and doesn’t come back with a sour taste following a repair,” the company said.

“Taking the extra time to cover these finer details and show your customers where to find additional information about their contract can prove to be incredibly beneficial for your reputation and repeat business,” GWC Warranty went on to say.

This blog post and other instructional material can be found on GWC Warranty’s website.

TransUnion acquisition of eBureau aimed at combating fraud


In light of what’s happening nowadays in the credit bureau space, TransUnion’s latest acquisition is aimed at bolstering its arsenal against fraud.

TransUnion recently announced that it bolstered its data and analytics capabilities with the acquisition of eBureau, a leading provider of custom-analytic solutions with both credit-risk and anti-fraud applications.

The company highlighted eBureau’s rapid-model-development platform can enable financial institutions to quickly develop and deploy bespoke analytic models customized to their particular needs. A traditionally multi-month, cumbersome process can be reduced to a matter of days.

In areas like fraud, this enables customers to more quickly address changes in their external environment, according to TransUnion.

The purchase allows TransUnion to accelerate eBureau’s market presence by leveraging existing TransUnion relationships with thousands of financial institutions. Additionally, TransUnion will enhance the effectiveness of eBureau’s analytics with the introduction of new data assets, leading to greater accuracy and effectiveness to promote safer lending and less fraud.

The eBureau solution will be integrated into the Prama platform, allowing finance companies to move directly from market insight to action.

“TransUnion is committed to finding innovative ways information can be used to help businesses and consumers make smarter decisions,” said Chris Cartwright, president of TransUnion’s U.S. information services business unit. “eBureau is a strong addition to TransUnion’s business, enabling the company to fortify its analytics portfolio and extend its Prama platform, further enhancing our value proposition.”

TransUnion insisted the acquisition will benefit customers by reducing opportunities for error, maximizing model performance and enabling tight, transparent model governance.

“Together, TransUnion and eBureau will change the statistical score development process so that predictive analytics can be extended to organizations of varying size and capabilities,” said Dane Mauldin, executive vice president of TransUnion’s U.S. information services business unit. “With full access to TransUnion data and attributes, the eBureau model platform will dramatically expand its effectiveness and use cases for our customers.”

Gordy Meyer, chief executive officer of eBureau, added, “Joining TransUnion creates significant opportunities. TransUnion’s trusted brand and relationships combined with eBureau’s speed of development and delivery will result in further innovation for customers.”

The acquisition closed on Oct. 2, and financial terms were not disclosed.

Nicholas Financial among ACI Worldwide’s 2017 Innovation Award winners

NAPLES, Fla. - 

ACI Worldwide, one of the more than 60 exhibitors set to share their expertise during Used Car Week, recently announced the winners of the 2017 ACI Innovation Awards, with one of the recipients being a finance company that specializes in subprime paper.

The awards recognize banks, financial intermediaries, merchants and billers around the world for their innovative use of ACI’s UP portfolio of payment solutions. And one of the winners was Nicholas Financial, which originates subprime vehicle installment contracts with franchised and independent dealerships.

ACI Worldwide highlighted that Nicholas Financial pioneered new payments channels and technologies to increase electronic payment adoption while reducing print and mail costs, increasing customer adoption and satisfaction.

This year’s other winners include:

• Auchan Retail International: One of the world’s largest retailers, Auchan leveraged new card payments standards and took control of the payment chain to more effectively innovate, improve time to market, reduce costs and ultimately improve customer satisfaction.

• Everlink: A leading provider of comprehensive, innovative and integrated payment solutions and services to Canadian Financial Institutions, Everlink successfully deployed Proactive Risk Manager, augmenting it with enhanced rules and integration into SMS messaging for a 360-degree measure of customer protection. This deployment is leading the way in Canada with the capability of protecting millions of Canadians.

• MB Financial: A top commercial bank, MB Financial implemented a best-in-class internal training and communication program in which every customer received specialized training related to a major systems conversion.

• Rabobank Nederland: A leading bank in the Netherlands, Rabobank implemented a complete new debit card payment infrastructure. By standardizing on solutions, Rabobank was able to realize a faster time to market ratio, allowing the bank to be more responsive to new developments like mobile payments with new services, the rapid emergence of wearables, the internet of things and biometrics.

• The Co-operative Group: She leading convenience retailer in U.K., Co-op established a customer rewards experience unmatched among national merchants; the program has generated significant increases in customer loyalty and community engagement.

• Westpac New Zealand Limited: A faster payments pioneer in the Asia Pacific region, Westpac NZ implemented a new payments engine capable of meeting the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s mandated go-live date for hourly intraday settlement and interchange of electronic credits and payments.

The awards celebrate global payments innovation, and winners were selected by a panel of judges composed of ACI experts and industry analysts from Aite Group, Celent and Ovum.

“ACI is honored to work with many tremendous organizations—and the winners of this year’s Innovation Awards represent the best in forward-thinking payments excellence,” said Craig Saks, chief operating officer at ACI Worldwide. ”We are thrilled to have received a record number of submissions this year; these organizations make us proud to support innovation in the payments industry.” 

For additional information on the Innovation Awards program and winners, visit

Resilient economy keeps interest rates stable


With two more opportunities to announce a move before the end of the year, trends are pointing toward the Federal Reserve using at least one of them to modify interest rates after passing on the chance this week.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) kept the federal funds rate at 1 percent to 1.25 percent, according to the meeting minutes released by policymakers. When the FOMC convenes again either at the end of October or on Dec. 12, an uptick is expected.

“In determining the timing and size of future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate, the committee will assess realized and expected economic conditions relative to its objectives of maximum employment and 2-percent inflation,” the meeting minutes said. “This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial and international developments.

“The committee will carefully monitor actual and expected inflation developments relative to its symmetric inflation goal,” the minutes continued. “The committee expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant gradual increases in the federal funds rate; the federal funds rate is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run. However, the actual path of the federal funds rate will depend on the economic outlook as informed by incoming data.”

Ahead of when the Federal Reserves discussed storm ramifications, Comerica Bank chief economist Robert Dye offered an upbeat assessment of  the U.S. economy that could be beneficial for dealerships and finance companies for the remainder of the year.

“We are seeing the disruptions caused by a very active hurricane season in some of the economic data for August and September,” Dye said. “We expect to see more evidence of storm effects in the data for October, and perhaps in the data for November as well.

“Despite the local and regional economic disruptions, the catastrophic damage and the loss of life from the recent hurricanes, the U.S. economy remains in good shape and looks set to end the year with moderate positive momentum. This speaks volumes about the resiliency of the U.S. economy,” he went on to say.

The Fed also spent considerable time discussing the ramifications of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, and the minutes broached the auto industry, as well.

“Sales of autos and light trucks had softened over the summer, leading producers to slow production to address a buildup of inventories, but a couple of participants noted that automakers expected to see a temporary increase in demand as households and businesses replaced vehicles damaged during the storms,” the minutes said.

“Participants acknowledged that Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria would affect economic activity in the near term,” the minutes continued. “They expected growth of real GDP in the third quarter to be held down by the severe disruptions caused by the storms but to rebound beginning in the fourth quarter as rebuilding got underway and economic activity in the affected areas resumed.

“Similarly, employment would be temporarily depressed by the hurricanes, but, abstracting from those effects, employment gains were anticipated to remain solid, and the unemployment rate was expected to decline a bit further by year-end,” the meeting recap went on to mention.

GrooveCar looking to help credit unions boost 20-percent market share


Experian Automotive reported that credit unions held a 20.3-percent market share of all auto financing during the second quarter, up from 18.7 percent a year earlier.

GrooveCar is looking to help credit unions boost the figure even more during this quarter through what the company is calling its Ultimate Year-End Auto Sales Event.

Beginning on Oct. 20 and running for 10 days, Long Island-area credit unions are offering a $300 savings certificate off the member’s best deal from participating dealerships.

Along with that certificate, GrooveCar highlighted that participating credit unions often originate with APR about 21 percent below the industry average. Experian Automotive pegged the average APR on new-vehicle financing at 5.20 percent in Q2 with the used-vehicle financing reading at 9.02 percent.

“This is our annual sale, and credit unions are pulling out all the stops during this promotion period,” GrooveCar senior vice president Frank Rinaudo said. “Each year excitement builds for credit unions, area dealerships who have an extra incentive to move end-of-the-year inventory, and members who benefit from all the savings.”

GrooveCar has positioned this campaign to leverage the fall selling season in an attempt to present the best value to its partners and their clients, including the credit union, dealership and members.

“Dealerships are looking to clear inventory to make room for new models, and are very motivated to sell,” Rinaudo said. “We are in the business of facilitating the car purchase transaction between three parties, and these sales are an effective means to capitalize on those relationships.”

As the sector’s auto finance market share grows, GrooveCar also highlighted credit union membership in the U.S. is rapidly growing, too. The company mentioned 4.6 million new members joined the ranks during the first half of 2017.

GrooveCar reaches nearly a million members in the region during its auto sale, and Rinaudo pointed out that dealerships are more than ready to service the influx of potential buyers.

 In addition to running the sale with the credit unions and dealerships, GrooveCar added that it provides all the tools needed to make the sale a success.

“We begin planning this sale months in advance, working with our credit union partners on the right messaging they need to reach the member,” Rinaudo said.

GWC Warranty and Metrolina Credit celebrate 2 years of partnership


Two operators in the auto finance space recently celebrated year No. 2 together.

GWC Warranty recently marked two years of partnership with Metrolina Credit by joining the Carolinas-based finance company at the grand opening of its new corporate headquarters and flagship branch office in Charlotte, N.C.

GWC Warranty and Metrolina first partnered in 2015, and have since worked with more than 300 dealerships to protect thousands of drivers from costly, out-of-pocket repair bills. Metrolina Credit, which operates five branches in North and South Carolina partners with GWC Warranty to co-market each other’s services, which opens the doors for dealers to work vehicle service contracts into more financing deals.

“The ribbon cutting we celebrated earlier this year was a celebration of how far Metrolina Credit has come since we took ownership of the company in 2013,” Metrolina Credit chief executive officer Doug Marohn said. “We couldn’t have experienced such amazing success over the years without the partnership of other leaders in the industry like GWC Warranty.

“Together, we have been able to help more dealers than ever before protect their customers from costly repair bills, which in turn helps ensure our customers avoid unexpected defaults,” Marohn continued.

GWC Warranty’s area vice president of strategic alliances, Wendy Pratt, was invited to join Marohn and his team at the company’s grand opening in August. Pratt joined Metrolina employees, local representatives and industry partners to celebrate the success Metrolina has experienced in recent years.

According to Marohn, “The increased space and improved facilities will help us serve our borrowing customers and automobile dealer partners even better now and for many years to come.”

Westlake’s eContracting solution now available nationwide


Earlier this week, Westlake Financial Services announced the launch of its eContracting automotive loan origination solution in all 50 U.S. states through DealerCenter.

And the finance company reached this accomplishment earlier than company officials expected.

“Our goal was to launch eContracting in all 50 states by the end of 2017. We have achieved that goal two months early,” said Jack Ratusnik, Westlake’s senior project manager. “This rewarding project involved many employees from various business units, Nowcom and our partner, eOriginal. eContracting has been a huge success for Westlake and our Dealers.”

Westlake’s eContracting solution can allow both independent and franchised dealers to sign contracts electronically, upload supporting documentation and instantaneously push all information to Westlake as soon as the contract package is complete. This simplified process typically results in better customer service, fewer missing documents and faster funding.

To date, Westlake has funded more than 32,000 eContracts using the solution. On average, these eContracts have funded a half-day faster than traditional deals.

“Dealers have consistently embraced our eContracting as we’ve rolled-out each state,” said Casey Harmon, Westlake's senior vice president of corporate development. “They haven’t needed to purchase special equipment to implement the solution, because we built it to work regardless of their IT setup. That means they can eContract with Westlake using everything from the latest tablet or phone to a basic computer and mouse configuration.”

Westlake senior vice president of sales and marketing Mark Vazquez added, “eContracted deals now make up about twenty percent of our monthly originations. We should see this ratio increase now that we have launched the solution nationwide.”

Dealers can sign up for eContracting solution by contacting their Westlake dealer account manager or call Westlake Dealer Support at (888) 893-7937. Dealers can learn more about Westlake Financial Services products by visiting

20 senior industry leaders upbeat about finance market


If your shop is struggling with originating quality paper or keeping customers current, perhaps here’s some good news.

The opinions of business leaders including company chief executive officers, directors, chairmen and presidents highlighted in White Clarke Group’s new U.S. Auto & Equipment Finance Survey 2017 paint a detailed picture of a developing and dynamic market.

This research project shared recent industry statistics from local trade associations as well as featuring views and predictions from 20 well-known industry leaders, including some who have made appearances at Used Car Week.

White Clark Group’s survey revealed that the arrival in the White House of arguably the most business-friendly administration in history has sent business and consumer confidence soaring, but the impact of pre-election promises in terms of regulatory reform, fiscal changes and federal spending has yet to be fully felt.

“Businesses are looking to President Trump to deliver the enhanced economic growth that was a core promise of his election campaign, but there is an element of uncertainty about how the market will develop in the long-term,” White Clarke Group said.

In the new-vehicle market, while report authors acknowledge new-models sales are set to falter slightly this year, there is still a strong appetite for new cars and light trucks, funded through cheap finance options and low interest rates.

The National Automobile Dealers Association is forecasting total sales of 17.1 million new cars and light trucks in 2017, and although this will represent a fall in demand, it is still expected to be one of the highest performances on record.

Ongoing demand is being funded predominantly through finance, with Experian reporting the average installment contract amount for a new vehicle reaching a record high last year of $30,621; while used vehicles also achieved new peaks at $19,329 per vehicle.

The rise has caused concern in some areas about the level of debt being taken on by consumers, with the auto loan market now accounting for more than $1.1 trillion.

Although there are fears about vehicle oversupply and its impact on used asset values, the indications are that the market remains robust, according to the report.

At the same time, White Clarke Group mentioned the re-emergence of small and regional banks looking to expand services to existing manufacturers, dealers and retailers is continuing to spur growth in the dealer floorplan finance market.

Featured opinions and predictions included in the survey report came from:

• Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

• Melinda Zabritski, automotive finance senior director, Experian

• Lou Loquasto, VP automotive leader, Equifax

• Bill Stephenson, CEO, De Lage Landen

• Dave Mirsky, CEO, Pacific Rim Capital

• Matthias Müller, CEO, Volkswagen Group

• Tracey Zhen, president, Zipcar

• Ralph Petta, president and CEO, ELFA

• Tom Partridge, president, Fifth Third Equipment Finance

• Gary Amos, CEO Commercial Finance - Americas, Siemens Financial Services

• Alan Sikora, CEO, First American Equipment Finance

• Adam Warner, president, Key Equipment Finance

• David Slider, group EVP, White Clarke Group

• Stephen Whelan, partner, Blank Rome

• Bill Bosco, principal, Leasing 101

• Kurt Ruhlin, chief operating officer, White Clarke Group

In the equipment leasing segment, there is a confident atmosphere, as new business volumes increase to reflect stronger economic activity.

Figures from the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) show an acceleration in new business volumes during the first half of 2017.

ELFA president and chief executive officer Ralph Petta said, “Business owners are taking advantage of low interest rates, favorable employment data, an equity market that continues to defy gravity and other solid fundamentals to replace aging assets and, in some cases, expand operations, requiring installation of new equipment.”

The exclusive report can be downloaded here. White Clarke Group also offered a video recap of the report that can be seen here or through the window at the top of this page.