Financing

3 top executive changes at SCUSA, including CFO and head of operations

DALLAS - 

This week, Santander Consumer USA Holdings made a trio of key changes to its leadership team under new chief executive officer Scott Powell, who took control of the finance company in late August.

SCUSA announced that Juan Carlos Alvarez, corporate treasurer of Santander Holdings USA is succeeding Ismail (Izzy) Dawood as chief financial officer, effective immediately. Dawood, who has been with the finance company since December 2015, is leaving to pursue other opportunities.

In addition, Sandra Broderick, who previously was a top executive at US Bank will join SCUSA as executive vice president and head of operations on Oct. 10.

“Juan Carlos was instrumental in helping SHUSA take major steps forward in the past year, including the work that led to passing the Federal Reserve’s capital stress test and the termination of our 2014 Written Agreement with the Federal Reserve,” Powell said.

“With his intimate knowledge of SC and strong financial expertise, I’m confident Juan Carlos is the right person to assume the role of SC CFO at this point in SC's evolution,” Powell continued.

As corporate treasurer of Santander Holdings, Alvarez oversaw SHUSA’s liquidity risk management, asset liability management, fixed-income investor relations and treasury functions. He has significant financial expertise, having served in a variety of roles at Santander, including interim CFO of Santander Holdings and global head of treasury and investments for Santander’s International Private Banking Unit.

Alvarez is stepping down as Corporate Treasurer of Santander Holdings to devote his full attention to Santander Consumer. Santander Holdings will name its new corporate treasurer at a later date.

“I’m looking forward to working alongside Scott as Santander Consumer’s CFO, and continuing to strengthen SC’s financial and operational performance,” Alvarez said. “SC has a bright future ahead, and I'm excited to be part of this new chapter.”

SCUSA also announced that Broderick will join the finance company.

In this role, Broderick will oversee originations, servicing and default, and other operations functions including administrative oversight of Santander Consumer International, Puerto Rico. She joins SCUSA from US Bank, which she joined in 2017 from JPMorgan Chase & Co. At JP Morgan Chase & Co. she served as the managing director and operations executive from 2002 to March of this year, and also served as head of operations for its automotive finance business since 2012. She brings more than 30 years of experience in the industry and also has held a variety of senior positions leading operations at Bank One, GE Capital and HSBC.

Broderick will report to Powell and Santander U.S. COO Mahesh Aditya.

In other moves, SCUSA said Rich Morrin will also take on a new role as president of Chrysler Capital and auto relationships, reporting to Powell.

Morrin will be responsible for Chrysler Capital, SCUSA’s sales and marketing activities, dealer and customer relationships, dealer oversight and RoadLoans.com. He will also be jointly accountable for Dealer Commercial Services, (DCS), which is part of Santander Bank. Morrin will be responsible for building Santander Consumer's integrated product offering for dealers and strengthening relationships with them.

“I am pleased to have such strong leaders on my team,” Powell said. “Juan Carlos, Sandy and Rich each bring considerable experience and expertise to their roles, and I am looking forward to working together as we grow SC and strengthen our commitment to customers.”

Wise F&I boosts plan coverage to 10 years and 100,000 miles

ST. LOUIS - 

Wise F&I recently enhanced its vehicle service contract, WiseTVP, to offer consumers five coverage plans, which now include an extended term with coverage for up to 10 years and 100,000 miles.

The company highlighted WiseTVP’s coverage plans can provide for escalating levels of mechanical breakdown coverage, and all plans include towing, car rental, trip interruption, emergency roadside assistance and tire road hazard coverage.

“Offering a product that is underwritten by an A.M. Best A+ (Superior) rated carrier, and providing the consumer more protection, makes WiseTVP a valuable product offering for Wise F&I,” Wise F&I president Matt Croak said.

Croak added that Wise F&I strives to continually update its product offerings to provide the best financial protection package for the consumer. Wise F&I’s complete product line includes: GAPWise, WiseCARE, WiseTVP, WiseMVP, VALUEWise, TIREWise, THEFTWise and KEYWise. All Wise F&I products are available for electronic contracting by a dealership.

20 percent compound monthly growth rate pushes SpringboardAuto into 22 states

IRVINE, Calif. - 

SpringboardAuto highlighted this week that the company has produced an upward trajectory of completed auto financing equal to a compound monthly growth rate of 20 percent.

As a result, the company announced it has expanded operations to 22 states, now covering more than 70 percent of the U.S. population — a move driven by dealers’ desire to further improve customer satisfaction and consumers’ demand for a streamlined dealership experience.

SpringboardAuto — an auto finance solutions provider created by industry veterans and backed by CUNA Mutual Group — is currently doing business in the following states:

—Arizona
—California
—Colorado
—Florida
—Georgia
—Illinois
—Kansas
—Maryland
—Michigan
—Missouri
—Nebraska
—New Jersey
—New Mexico
—New York
—North Carolina
—Ohio
—Oregon
—Tennessee
—Texas
—Utah
—Washington
—Wisconsin

“The difference in our model is how we define our customer base,” SpringboardAuto chief executive officer Jim Landy said. “Our goal when building the technology was to create a secure, fast and flexible platform that mutually benefits dealers and customers.

“Today’s car buyers are tech savvy and time constrained. In our model, we significantly reduce the administrative work so dealers and customers can enjoy the car selling and buying experience,” Landy continued.

Driving this change is the need for speed. SpringboardAuto insisted consumers want to spend less time in the showroom, specifically when it comes to doing paperwork.

According to recent studies, customer satisfaction decreases as time spent at the dealership increases. Of that time, 33 percent is taken up with finance and paperwork, creating an opportunity for dealers to increase customer loyalty by reducing the time a customer spends in the dealership.

“The fact that consumers will spend less time in the dealership doesn’t mean they need the dealers less. Rather, the consumer needs them to play a greater role in selling products,” Landy said. “Ultimately, our technology gives dealers and customers the advantage of doing more in less time.” 

Dealers and customers are catching on and becoming fans of this simple and straightforward process as evidenced by SpringboardAuto’s increase in completed financing — a compound monthly growth rate of 20 percent in 2017.

For example, Brant Tessinger, finance manager of Los Angeles’ Diamond Honda Dealership said of SpringboardAuto: “SpringboardAuto delivers ready-to-buy customers, with cash in hand, reducing labor costs and helping to eliminate hours of tedious paperwork. As a result, SpringboardAuto customers are more receptive to aftermarket sales and usually deliver a higher CSI.”

SpringboardAuto was developed by Landy and other industry veterans upon recognizing the opportunity to simplify and automate a complete auto retail experience. The proprietary technology can provide self-serve, real-time financing tools including a financing configurator that can let customers accurately and instantly reconfigure loan terms within personalized parameters, a secure portal to easily upload documents, and instant approvals complete with an e-check.

The live e-check can be printed from any computer and is ready-to-deposit — giving both parties confidence in the transaction.

“Many of the consumers who come to us want to control their experience and are in a financial bracket that requires extra care and time on their financing,” said Connie Oropeza, director of operations at SpringboardAuto. “We are able to create confidence with this customer while eliminating risk, excess paperwork, rewrites and other time costs that create headaches for dealers.”

Brandi Hicks, who recently completed a loan through SpringboardAuto has vowed to spread the good word about her SpringboardAuto experience.

“It was the easiest car purchase I have ever experienced. I've been at dealerships for well over 8 hours before to get approved for a car loan and get the paperwork done. This place was amazing. The whole thing took less than an hour and I left with my new SUV. I will recommend them to everyone I know,” Hicks said.

More details are available at www.springboardauto.com.

GWC Warranty appoints new chief revenue officer

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. - 

This week, GWC Warranty, a provider of used-vehicle service contracts sold through dealers, appointed Brian Stach as the company’s new chief revenue officer.

In his role, Stach will oversee all of GWC Warranty’s field sales operations, including a nationwide team of area vice presidents, dealer consultants and trainers.

“Brian is a proven leader with a long track record of fostering highly engaged, successful sales teams focused on flawless execution and best-in-class customer service. Because of this, we believe that Brian is an ideal fit to lead GWC Warranty’s talented, industry-leading sales team,” GWC Warranty chief executive officer and president Rob Glander said.

Stach joins GWC Warranty following more than 15 years of successful sales management experience. Throughout his career he has spearheaded results-driven initiatives at numerous organizations such as CareerBuilder, Yahoo and DialogTech.

Most recently, he served as the vice president of sales for Internet Brands.

Fed maintains course during latest monetary policy action

WASHINGTON, D.C. - 

Because of the Federal Reserve’s view of realized and expected labor market conditions and inflation, a unanimous vote of the Federal Open Market Committee decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 1 percent to 1.25 percent, according to an announcement policymakers made on Wednesday.

Fed chair Janet Yellen explained the stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting some further strengthening in labor market conditions and a sustained return to 2-percent inflation.

“Although the committee decided at this meeting to maintain its target for the federal funds rate, we continue to expect that the ongoing strength of the economy will warrant gradual increases in that rate to sustain a healthy labor market and stabilize inflation around our 2-percent longer run objective,” Yellen said during the opening statement of one of her regularly scheduled press conference following a rate decision.

“That expectation is based on our view that the federal funds rate remains somewhat below its neutral level — that is, the level that is neither expansionary nor contractionary and keeps the economy operating on an even keel,” she continued.

“Because the neutral rate currently appears to be quite low by historical standards, the federal funds rate would not have to rise much further to get to a neutral policy stance,” Yellen went on to say. “But because we also expect the neutral level of the federal funds rate to rise somewhat over time, additional gradual rate hikes are likely to be appropriate over the next few years to sustain the economic expansion.

“Even so, the committee continues to anticipate that the longer-run neutral level of the federal funds rate is likely to remain below levels that prevailed in previous decades,” he added.

Yellen also shared that the Fed expects that the overall U.S. economy will continue to expand at a moderate pace over the next few years.

“In the third quarter, however, economic growth will be held down by the severe disruptions caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria,” Yellen said. “As activity resumes and rebuilding gets underway, growth likely will bounce back. Based on past experience, these effects are unlikely to materially alter the course of the national economy beyond the next couple of quarters.

“Of course, for the families and communities that have been devastated by the storms, recovery will take time, and on behalf of the Federal Reserve, let me express our sympathy for all those who have suffered losses,” she added during the event that can be seen in its entirety here or at the top of this page. 

The majority of what the Fed and Yellen divulged on Wednesday didn’t surprise Comerica Bank chief economist Robert Dye, who assessed how the makeup of who is making future policies could leave an impact.

“Looking ahead, it is important to remember that there is potential for a very different Board of Governors next year after Janet Yellen’s term expires this coming February,” Dye said. “She may yet get reappointed by President Trump, but that is by no means assured.

“Yellen reinforced that the Fed was not locked into any particular policy action and would continue to digest data and adjust monetary policy accordingly,” Dye continued. “She remained noncommittal about the likelihood of her reappointment as chairwoman of the FOMC. However, she did admit that she has not had a recent meeting with President Trump.”

CoreLane debuts cloud-based tool to connect DMS and LOS systems

ORANGE, Calif. - 

CoreLane Technologies, a provider of innovative transactional connectivity solutions for automotive dealers and finance companies, on Monday announced the launch of CreditLane, a low-cost, scalable cloud-based platform for delivering data between dealers and finance companies.

CoreLane will debut the new platform this week at the defi SOLUTIONS Annual Client Summit in Las Colinas, Texas.

CoreLane explained the CreditLane platform can integrate with the dealer management system (DMS) and the finance company’s loan origination system (LOS), enabling the implementation of the system without the need for extensive training.

CreditLane receives contract information directly from the dealer’s DMS and transmits it to finance company, eliminating the possibility of keystroke errors caused by entering information multiple times. The finance company instantly receives the application through its LOS and responds with a decision that generates an alert and messages on the dealer’s DMS. 

The final deal structure is pushed back into the dealer’s DMS, reducing errors and streamlining funding.

CreditLane also enables finance companies to grow their portfolios by providing them visibility to a broad array of dealers. The CreditLane Lender Directory can provide marketing information to prospective dealers so finance companies can easily identify, connect and submit applications to CreditLane providers.

 “Since transitioning to the CreditLane platform, we have seen a positive impact on our ability to streamline our process and improve communication. The functionality of having real time updates between dealers and our origination departments has significantly reduced the time between receiving an application and being able to approve and fund the deal,” said Vic Amin, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Veros Credit. 

“The efficiencies we’ve gained make every interaction faster and easier, which in turn, has helped to reduce our overall operating costs,” Amin continued.

 “We also wanted a solution that could accommodate our continued growth, and the CreditLane platform gives us the necessary customization and scalability to maximize productivity at a pace that we set,” Amin went on to say.

Bill Medved, senior vice president of technology and operations of CoreLane, is confident other finance companies can achieve the same benefit as what Veros Credit has experienced.

“We’ve spent over a year researching how dealers and lenders currently submit and process applications,” Medved said. “Based on the result of that research, we’ve partnered with multiple DMS providers and integrated with defi SOLUTIONS to develop CreditLane. 

“We look to partner with all key industry stakeholders to provide solutions that are ‘one-click simple,’” he went on to say.

As mentioned, CoreLane will be pushing out its new tool during defi SOLUTIONS’ event — defi FEST — at the NYLO hotel in Las Colinas, Texas, beginning on Tuesday.

During the event, defi SOLUTIONS will share company and product insights and information, and encourage collaboration through discussions and idea-sharing. The defi SOLUTIONS business model centers around collaboration, and this annual round-up of clients, partners and company team members is an opportunity to make certain everyone is benefitting from defi relationships and the defi lending platform of services.

 “This year we’re offering more sessions and topics of interest to our clients,” said Kartheek Veeravalli, defi’s chief product officer. “We’ve grown quickly, so we’ll also take this opportunity to make sure our clients are aware of the latest and greatest services our auto lending platform has to offer, such as Auto Structuring.”

An entire session will be devoted to the defi auto loan origination system (LOS) Auto Structuring capability, which automatically structures counter-offers according to a client’s individually customized credit policy rules. Other defi SOLUTIONS sessions include the Q&A company and product roadmap with chief executive officer Stephanie Alsbrooks and others from the defi executive team, two-way texting in loan management and servicing, the need for speed in current systems and architecture, as well as a presentation from defi chief operating officer Georgine Muntz on the use of technology in competitive strategy.

Additionally, defi partners will be presenting ‘bottom-line’ benefits case studies.

“Our sponsors are an integral part of this event,” said Patty Jefferson, defi SOLUTIONS vendor relationship manager. “defi clients won’t want to miss out on their interactive roundtable sessions.”

Digital Matrix System (DMS) is the event’s Big Kahuna sponsor. Other partners include AUL, Black Book, Cedar Document Technologies, Clarity Services, Corelane Technologies, Dealertrack, eOriginal, Equifax, FactorTrust, Hatteras, Kelley Blue Book, LexisNexis Risk Solutions, Open Lending, REPAY, RouteOne, Solutions by Text and TransUnion.

RoadVantage releases non-branded F&I education videos

AUSTIN, Texas - 

RoadVantage wants educated customers arriving at dealership finance departments, so the F&I program provider rolled out a series of educational videos that are free and not tied to a specific provider brand.

RoadVantage acknowledged some providers offer proprietary branded product videos. But if a dealership carries products from more than one provider or changes product suppliers, RoadVantage insisted those videos become useless, requiring dealerships to switch out videos — or stop using them altogether.

Dealers and agents can post these on their websites or play them in their waiting rooms to raise consumer awareness of F&I products and the value they offer to consumers.

The product category videos include:

—Tire & Wheel
—Dent & Ding
—Windshield
—Key Replacement
—Interior/Exterior
—Theft Protection
—Total Coverage
—GAP
—Vehicle Service Contracts

“Our philosophy at RoadVantage is a better customer experience,” RoadVantage chief exeucutive officer Garret Lacour said. “And we aren’t just talking about our products and claims service. We believe the entire industry benefits when dealers get involved with educating consumers about the value F&I products bring to the table.

“But we don’t just want dealers who offer our products to benefit,” Lacour continued. “We want every dealer to have the ability to offer professional, high-quality video content for the F&I products they offer. That’s why we decided to go this route with our videos, and why we are offering them free of charge to everyone who wants to use them.”

RoadVantage cited a 2016 study found that consumers who were educated on the value of F&I products before they entered the F&I office were three times as likely to purchase those products than consumers who were not educated.

“No matter what products or provider a dealership or agent chooses to offer, the entire industry benefits when we meet consumers where they prefer to get their information,” RoadVantage reiterated.

The videos can be downloaded at http://roadvantage.com/free-videos.

Spireon claims another honor for customer service

IRVINE, Calif. - 

Spireon gets to add another honor to its mantle.

The company recently received the prestigious Gold award for customer service in the 2017 Golden Bridge Awards; a program that encompasses the world’s best in organizational performance, innovations, products and services.

The win marks the second award that Spireon has earned so far this year for exceptional customer service. In May, Spireon won the Silver Stevie Award for Customer Service Department of the Year in the 15th annual American Business Awards.

“Spireon is honored to receive a Golden Bridge award, which celebrates building bridges to connect companies with their customers. This is what we strive to do across all areas of our business, but particularly in customer service, where we pride ourselves on delivering an experience that has resulted in exceptionally high NPS scores and renewal rates from our customers,” Spireon chief executive officer Kevin Weiss said.

“I’m so pleased to see our dedicated and talented customer service team win gold — they earn it every day,” Weiss continued.

Recently, the company announced significant customer traction across all areas of the business in the first half of this year. Spireon added 3,200 new GoldStar dealers and finance companies, 25 new Kahu dealers and dealer groups, and 510 new FleetLocate customers.

The company attributed their success, in part, to a clear and demonstrable focus on customer service. 

Spireon exited the first half of 2017 with an average net promoter score (NPS) of 55, the company’s highest to date, far exceeding the industry average for business-to-business technology companies.

Darwin Automotive now working with 2,000 dealers

ISELIN, N.J. - 

F&I software provider Darwin Automotive announced on Monday that it has reached a significant milestone — enrolling its 2,000th dealership nationwide. 

Since launching just 19 months ago, Darwin Automotive has achieved significant growth across the U.S., securing endorsements with the nation’s top F&I product providers and developmental agencies, as well as three of the top publicly traded dealer groups.

“We are proud to be part of such a great industry and want to thank all our business partners as the response to our application has been incredible,” Darwin Automotive chief executive officer Phillip Battista said.

Earlier this year, Darwin rolled out two of the largest auto groups in the country: Sonic Automotive and Group 1 Automotive, and is currently deploying three more of the top ten enterprise groups in the U.S.

In addition, just last month Darwin announced a new endorsement from Nissan Extended Services North America (NESNA).

“At a time of tremendous growth, we are not remaining idle but instead are continuing to innovate. In September we will be launching the only patented online selling system in the world with real-time F&I and accurate payments,” Battista said.

“Darwin is truly committed to protecting the profitability of the dealership. With Darwin Online, dealerships will be able to have a true F&I department; open 24-hours a day, 365-days a year, while providing a unique customer experience,” Battista added.

AUL promotes 2 executives to new positions

NAPA, Calif. - 

This week, vehicle service contracts administrator AUL Corp. announced the executive promotions today of Bryan Nieves to vice president of national accounts and Henry Paoli to national sales manager.

According to Jason Garner, AUL’s senior vice president of sales and business development, both promotions are effectively immediately.

Nieves was previously national accounts manager, a position in which he successfully cultivated vital long-term relationships with dealers, finance companies and agents during his 20 year tenure with AUL. According to Garner, Nieves has been the driving force behind AUL’s Preferred Partner Lending Program and Reinsurance Initiative, which has been well received by AUL clients.

Formerly business development manager, the company highlighted Paoli’s promotion came as a direct result of his passion for the business, ability to forge new relationships and generate results. While continually growing AUL’s agent client base, AUL mentioned Paoli remains focused on the long-term health of a client relationship versus a short-term gain.

“It is this type of leadership style that represents the AUL way,” Garner said.

Prior to joining AUL, Henry spent more than nine years as regional sales manager for GE Capital and more than 23 years as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserves.

“Both Bryan and Henry continue to excel in their positions, while embodying the values to which AUL Corp. continually strives to uphold,” Garner said. “We are so pleased to announce their promotions and anticipate there will be more exciting announcements to come as a result of these two individuals’ efforts and work ethic.”