Financing

2 actions by Ally Financial to reinforce online capabilities

LAS VEGAS - 

Ally Financial made a pair of moves this week to enhance its position as a provider that can cater to shoppers who are looking to complete at least some of the financing process online.

First, Clearlane — Ally’s online auto financing platform — announced the development of Clearmatch, a digital service that will allow customers to be approved for financing on vehicles in dealer inventories.

Then, Ally and Drive Motors entered into a strategic relationship naming Ally the preferred finance company for Drive Motors. The agreement provides Ally with the opportunity to receive consumer financing applications submitted digitally by dealerships using Drive Motors’ software, which is an e-commerce solution for dealership websites.

“Drive Motors’ cutting-edge business model offers dealers a convenient way to allow customers to shop for cars online from local businesses they know and trust, helping consumers feel more confident and in control,” said Tim Russi, president of auto finance at Ally. “We’re thrilled to work with Drive Motors to be the sole provider of financing to power these digital transactions for dealers across the country.”

Drive Motors’ software can integrates as a native part of the dealer’s website so it becomes part of the overall online experience. The Drive Motors technology can incorporate the valuation of a trade-in and aftermarket products sales, as well as Ally financing.

Customers need to go to dealerships to finalize paperwork and pick up vehicles; some dealerships offer vehicle delivery as well, adding even more convenience for consumers.

Drive Motors facilitates more than 1,000 vehicle sales a month, nationwide.

“I’m excited to announce our new relationship with Ally Financial, just in time for NADA,” said Aaron Krane, chief executive officer of Drive Motors. “Ally shares our obsession with the customer experience, and I’m confident this will ‘10X’ the value for any dealer using Drive Motors.”

Meanwhile, Ally Financial also took actions with Clearmatch.

With Clearmatch, shoppers will get pre-qualified for financing online and then be able to browse the inventory at dealerships participating in the program to find a vehicle in their price range. Once customers select a vehicle, they will be able to get approved for financing digitally. 

“Clearmatch will transform the car-buying experience, improving the process for both consumers and dealers. For consumers, it’s all about speeding up the process,” said Jeff Danford, senior vice president of Clearlane. “We help consumers explore their options, so when they get to the dealership they’re ready to finalize the purchase and financing with the dealer and drive home in their vehicle.”

Clearlane is launching a pilot of the new service, which will allow dealers to present their inventory and pricing online, and lets customers select vehicles in real-time from dealer inventories and apply for financing online. Clearmatch will be rolled out to dealers on a regional basis starting in late April.

Through Clearmatch’s online application process, customers will be able to:

1. Get pre-qualified without any impact to credit score.  

2. Browse vehicles from multi-dealer inventories.

3. Compare offers from multiple financing sources.

4. Have their financing applications approved directly by the financing source.

Once they have completed the online process, customers can take their approval certificate to the dealership where the dealer will work with them to finalize the purchase and financing. Since much of the vehicle and finance shopping was done at the consumer’s convenience, time needed for closing at the dealership is significantly reduced.

“Clearmatch will allow customers to easily take care of their financing online and have a faster close at the dealership – which can be a key dissatisfier,” Danford said. “Meanwhile, dealers will benefit from happier, more satisfied customers.”

Ally launched Clearlane last April to connect consumers digitally with finance providers who can provide vehicle financing quickly and easily. For more information about Clearmatch or Clearlane, visit www.clearlane.com.

GWC Warranty hires new strategic brand manager

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. - 

GWC Warranty, a provider of used vehicle service contracts sold through dealers, recently announced the addition of Emily Dwyer as its new strategic brand manager.

As a member of the marketing department, the company highlighted Dwyer will be responsible for developing strategies that increase GWC’s brand awareness and value among new and existing GWC partners in an effort to help them sell more cars and increase profits.

Dwyer brings to this role more than seven years of experience in brand development. Prior to joining GWC Warranty, Dwyer was the brand strategist for Sweda Advertising in Clarks Green, Pa., where she oversaw brand positioning, art direction, copywriting, audio/video production, social media management, public relations, event planning and more for a variety of agency clients.

6 components of alliance of Open Dealer Exchange and RouteOne to streamline F&I office

SOUTHFIELD and FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. - 

The collaboration to simplify what happens within the dealership finance office continues.

Open Dealer Exchange and RouteOne on Tuesday announced a strategic alliance that brings together the organizations to provide streamlined solutions to their partners CDK Global and Reynolds and Reynolds that bridge the gaps, open the entire finance company network and streamline dealers’ processes for providing financing and aftermarket protection products to vehicle shoppers.

As a result, the companies insisted vehicle shoppers will experience a more robust online and in-store sales process and spend significantly less time in the dealership F&I office when buying or leasing a vehicle.

Officials believe this alliance leverages technology and expertise to create a solution to a long-standing industrywide challenge that no one company has been able to solve individually. Traditionally, F&I portions of vehicle transactions, managed with disparate systems, prolonged the vehicle-buying process and created dissatisfaction for all parties involved.

Open Dealer Exchange and RouteOne are committed to connecting the critical F&I components needed to enable a seamless dealer workflow that will translate into a better consumer experience and decrease paperwork mistakes for dealers — leading to a more rapid closing process and “funded right the first time” contracts.

The companies contend this technology convergence can eliminate the need for traditional system-to-system integration between multiple systems and creates the broadest access point in the industry for automotive dealers to connect with captive finance sources, independent finance companies, OEMs and aftermarket providers.

At the same time, the alliance’s process reengineering will be made available through CDK Global and Reynolds and Reynolds systems, allowing dealerships to combine a seamless and scalable F&I offering into their existing workflow with limited new investment or technology upgrades.

The companies went on to note all of these enhancements will significantly reduce the time new and used vehicle shoppers need to spend in a dealership’s F&I office, while providing a seamless transition from online to in-store.

Other highlights of the alliance include:

— Dealers can offer a seamless, end-to-end consumer purchase experience across channels, opening the door for eContracting to become the standard practice for automotive retail transactions.

— Enables a single, digital eSigning ceremony using dealers’ existing technology investments, dramatically improving the car buying experience for consumers

— Eliminates cumbersome integration and toggling between disparate systems

— Deal speed and accuracy will dramatically improve, reducing held offerings and contracts in transit.

— Finance companies, aftermarket and financial technology providers have a new option for fast, accurate transactions.

— OEMs can benefit from the efficiencies of the alliance to work with dealers to create branded shopping experiences.

“As an organization we are passionate about helping streamline dealers’ retail experience so they can deliver an overall better customer experience,” said Steve Luyckx, general manager of Open Dealer Exchange.

“This alliance allows dealers to quickly and inexpensively implement a streamlined F&I workflow into their existing operational infrastructure, create a seamless online to in-store shopping experience, and reduce the time consumers spend waiting for paper during the actual purchase process,” Luyckx

RouteOne chief executive officer Justin Oesterle added, “This relationship will combine the industry’s most robust and far-reaching captive finance source, independent lender and aftermarket provider networks, and makes them available through two of the leading dealer networks to create a simple access point that benefits everyone supporting automotive F&I.

“The F&I process is something that everyone in the industry has been trying to fix for a long time,” Oesterle went on to say. “The reengineering of this process by our alliance connects the infrastructure needed to finally meet consumer expectations.”

AUL chooses former Assurant executive as new CIO

NAPA, Calif. - 

AUL Corp., an administrator of vehicle service contracts (VSC), named a new chief information officer this week.

According to a news release, AUL president and chief executive officer Jimmy Atkinson appointed Jose Fleites as the company’s new CIO, bringing more than 25 years of information systems experience to the newly established position.

“Having worked on the same leadership team with Jose for several years at Assurant, I have a solid grasp of his tremendous knowledge and experience,” Atkinson said.

“As AUL continues to expand its customer base, Jose’s global experience provides the leadership required to deliver outstanding solutions to partner agents and dealerships across the country,” Atkinson continued.

Leveraging his experience from the start, AUL highlighted Fleites will spearhead the launch of a new underwriting system that will increase workflow efficiencies and reduce costs when issuing new policies and processing claims.

Fleites will also oversee the development and implementation of a new customer relationship management (CRM) system to enhance AUL’s customer experience and expand the firm’s sales capabilities and bandwidth.

“Having implemented similar systems to great success, Jose is perfectly positioned to ensure AUL stays on the leading edge of the VSC industry,” Atkinson said.

Prior to AUL, Fleites was vice president of strategic initiatives at a leading VSC and GAP waiver provider, where he successfully orchestrated a reorganization of operations that reduced costs by 20 percent and implemented new workforce management software that reduced employee turnover by 50 percent.

Fleites’ previous positions include global CIO of Aon Affinity, and a nearly 20-year career with Assurant, a global provider of vehicle and other service contracts, the final six of which were spent as vice president of information technology and operations.

“Jose is a strong leader who thinks strategically and works extremely well with people at all levels. An excellent communicator who truly cares for people, Jose fits very well with our culture at AUL, and we couldn’t be more pleased to have him aboard,” Atkinson said.

Coming this fall: Women in Auto Finance

CARY, N.C. - 

Continuing the Cherokee Media Group series of award programs that honor the most dedicated and talented professionals from throughout the used-car industry, company leaders on Tuesday proudly announced a new addition: Women in Auto Finance.

This contingent of women who provide crucial guidance and results throughout the auto finance space will be highlighted in the September/October issue of SubPrime Auto Finance News as well as during a special segment at Auto Fin Con during Used Car Week 2018.

“Blending Women in Auto Finance into our series of initiatives designed to showcase talented used-car industry professionals is a natural extension of what we do,” Cherokee Media Group president Bill Zadeits said. “We plan to recognize women who serve in critical positions and deserve such an honor.”

In the coming weeks, Cherokee Media Group will be interacting with key industry stakeholders to assemble the inaugural group, which along with being profiled in the print and digital editions of SubPrime Auto Finance News, also will be honored during Used Car Week 2018 that begins on Nov. 12 at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Companies interested in sponsorship opportunities associated with Women in Auto Finance can contact SubPrime Auto Finance News publisher Amanda Dunlap at adunlap@cherokeemediagroup.com.

CarMax and Credit Acceptance execs among inaugural Great Place to Work For All Leadership Award winners

SAN FRANCISCO - 

CarMax and Credit Acceptance each had an executive among the honorees who are women leaders from companies on the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For and Best Workplaces for Women.

Coinciding with the 107th International Women’s Day, Great Place to Work announced that among the 77 recipients were Corey Haire, who is the vice president of the East Coast Division for CarMax; and Kathy Kantzer, who is senior vice president of front end loan servicing.

Great Place to Work explained that the honorees were chosen by senior leadership at their companies for a being a leader who has consistently played a critical role in helping their organization deliver on strategic growth and business goals by creating a high-trust culture that is a great place to work for every employee.

In making the announcement, Great Place to Work chief executive officer Michael Bush said, “We are excited to celebrate the achievements of some of the top women leaders at America’s greatest companies. The companies on the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For and Best Workplaces for Women are leading the conversation in workplace equality and are demonstrating to corporate America how to become more diverse, more innovative and great places to work for all.

“The inaugural awards ceremony is part of Great Place to Work’s challenge to inspire every employer and company to become a great workplace for every one of its employees. This maximizes revenue, profit and growth. We are committed to accelerating the maximization of all human potential that is currently underrepresented and disengaged across workplaces, with our first milestone of closing the work experience gap between women and men by 2020,” Bush went on to say.

Credit Acceptance president Steve Jones emphasized that Kantzer has consistently played a critical role in helping the company deliver on strategic growth and business goals that positively impact team members, customers and shareholders.

“As a leader, Kathy has a deep desire to help others be successful. She is a strong advocate for our core values and consistently works to create an environment where team members can deliver their best work,” Jones said. “Her leadership, transparency and caring demeanor are inspiring.”

The entire list of honorees can be found here.

Leaders and experts gather for AFSA's annual Vehicle Finance Conference

LAS VEGAS - 

American Financial Services Association president and chief executive officer Chris Stinebert explained how AFSA organizes its annual Vehicle Finance Conference & Expo, which begins on Tuesday at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

“We plan this conference every year with input and feedback from our members,” Stinebert said. “They set the agenda based on the trends they are seeing in their markets whether its disruption by technology or by regulation.

“Because our members’ markets range from the captives, to the big banks to the independents, we get diverse viewpoints in our planning sessions, and this is reflected in our conference offerings. This is why members and non-members keep coming back to this conference year after year,” he continued.

Highlighting the creative and disruptive influence of innovation on the industry and held every year since 1996, AFSA declared that its conference has become the magnet event for industry executives, thought-leaders and innovators in the auto finance industry.

Nearly every captive auto finance company in the United States, as well as the auto finance divisions of major banks, and a large portion of the independent vehicle finance sources are members of AFSA.

“This conference will highlight the speed and level that disruptive innovation is having on our industry,” Stinebert said. “We’ve assembled leaders from outside and inside our industry to give their perspectives on where we are heading.”

Stinebert noted that guest speakers from outside the industry will address topics ranging from Gamification, to the future of retail, to start-ups in Silicon Valley. Two of the three have given popular TED talks.

Additionally, AFSA’s business partner members, whose products and services support the auto finance industry, will be on hand with 75 booths on display over the three days of the conference.

Dan Ammann, president of General Motors since 2014, will be the keynote speaker of the conference. He was previously vice president and chief financial officer of GM since April 2011, when he led the strategy to rebuild the company’s captive finance capability through the successful establishment and growth of GM Financial.

The conference’s CEO Panel will feature divergent views and market perspectives from:

—Dan Berce, president and chief executive officer at GM Financial

— Ravi Raghu, head of Capital One Auto Finance

— Rich Hyde, chief operating officer of Utah-based Prestige Financial

— Rich Morrin, president of Chrysler Capital and Auto Relationships at Santander Consumer USA

In addition to general session panel discussions on automotive market overviews and credit market overviews, there will be general sessions on topics ranging from diversity and inclusion, to cyber security, social platforms and risk management.

The AFSA Vehicle Finance conference, since 2004, is held in the same city and immediately before the National Automobile Dealers Association Convention to give executives in the automotive retail channel the opportunity to attend both events.

Based in Washington, D.C., AFSA is the national trade association for the consumer credit industry, committed to protecting access to credit and consumer choice. Its 450 members include traditional installment lenders, vehicle finance/leasing companies, consumer and commercial finance companies, mortgage lenders and servicers, payment card issuers, industrial banks and industry suppliers.

For more information, visit www.afsaonline.org.

Editor’s note: Watch out for future episodes of the Auto Remarketing Podcast originating from executives and experts on hand during the Vehicle Finance Conference. Current episodes can be found here.

Pairing up to enhance F&I: GWC with Nicholas Financial and Westlake with AUL

LOS ANGELES and WILKES-BARRE, Pa. - 

This week, two providers of vehicle service contracts enhanced their relationships with finance companies that often cater to consumers who fall into the subprime credit space.

First, GWC Warranty, a provider of vehicle service contracts sold through dealers, announced a strategic alliance with Nicholas Financial, a provider of direct consumer loans and installment sales contracts.

Also, Westlake Financial Services revealed a new partnership with AUL Corp., a warranty and vehicle service contract administrator. Bringing nearly 30 years of experience, AUL will now provide back-end servicing in 19 states for Secure One, Westlake’s vehicle protection program.

Nicholas Financial operates a network of 63 locations in 18 states spanning the Southeast and Midwest. Nicholas, which was established in 1987, is one of the largest publicly traded specialty consumer finance companies in North America.

“GWC's partnership with Nicholas Financial is yet another example of our company’s commitment to delivering a best-in-class experience that helps dealer generate strong referrals and repeat buyers,” said Rob Glander, chief executive officer and president of GWC Warranty.

“By aligning with Nicholas, we now have a partner to help us in continuing to share the ‘No Worries, Just Drive’ experience we provide dealers and their customers nationwide,” Glander continued.

Glander insisted the strategic alliance will offer both dealers and consumers more convenient and seamless access to quality financing and best-in-class service contracts. Through its established and growing dealer network, Nicholas will now offer GWC vehicle service contracts, providing its dealers and their customers the confidence that comes along with GWC’s track record of paying more than $3.5 billion in claims to date as part of APCO Holdings.

“At Nicholas, we offer dealers the opportunity to increase sales and maximize profits through financing programs tailored to both the customer and the dealer,” said Nicholas president and CEO Doug Marohn.

“GWC, much like the team at Nicholas shares a passion for helping dealers create repeat sales. This customer-focused approach to vehicle service contract and claims administration made this partnership a natural fit,” Marohn went on to say.

A similar scenario unfolded for Westlake and its Secure One platform, which offers two vehicle protection coverages: Powertrain and Advantage.

Powertrain will cover the vehicle’s engine group, turbocharger/supercharger, transmission, transaxle, transfer case and drive axle group. With Advantage Coverage, the customer will receive all Powertrain Coverage, plus power steering, electrical and air conditioning.

Both coverage options are available on either a 12-month/12,000-mile or a 24-month/24,000-mile financed term. Additional product benefits include; $100 deductible, 24-hour roadside assistance, rental car and trip interruption.

“Our customers look for reliable vehicle protection options that allow them to drive every mile with confidence,” said Ralph Ontiveros, vice president of Westlake Services & Lending Solutions.

“Not only does AUL have a national network of repair facilities and industry-leading customer support, it also is backed by an ‘A’ rated underwriter, providing great benefits to our customers and peace of mind on the road,” Ontiveros continued.

AUL vice president of national accounts Bryan Nieves added, “We just celebrated the issuance of our 2 millionth policy, and we welcome new partners who share our customer-first philosophy. Westlake Financial’s sterling reputation and commitment to its customers’ well-being make them a natural fit for our back-end services. We look forward to honoring their reputation with best-in-class support.”

Westlake Financial Services is active in all 50 states plus Puerto Rico, with a dealer base of more than 30,000 franchise and independent dealerships. Dealerships interested in learning more about Westlake Financial Services are invited to contact Westlake directly at (888) 893-7937 or online at www.westlakefinancial.com.

Nicholas Financial operates a network of 63 branch offices in 18 states including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The company originates direct contracts in Florida and North Carolina. More details can be found at nicholasfinancial.com.

For more information about GWC Warranty, visit www.GWCwarranty.com.

For more details about AUL’s offerings, visit www.aulcorp.com.

Fitch monitoring how recent subprime trends impact overall auto finance performance

NEW YORK - 

Fitch Ratings is keeping a close watch on how subprime auto finance paper is performing in a similar fashion to Equifax and  TransUnion.

Analysts indicated that loss frequency and severity ticked up slightly from historically low levels for the largest U.S. auto finance companies, according to the latest U.S. Auto Asset Quality Review from Fitch Ratings.

Excluding General Motors Financial — whose credit performance continues to benefit from a significant portfolio mix shift — Fitch highlighted the average net charge-off rate for finance companies covered in this report increased to 0.95 percent in the fourth quarter compared to 0.92 percent in the closing quarter of 2016.

Likewise, analysts noted delinquencies increased in Q4, with the 30-day delinquency rate ticking up to 3.07 percent as 2017 finished. A year earlier, Fitch pinpointed the rate at 2.86 percent.

“We continue to see a divergence in subprime credit relative to prime credit and expect performance to weaken further in 2018 due partially to the expansion in recent years of less-tenured, independent auto finance companies that have demonstrated higher-risk appetites and less underwriting discipline,” Fitch senior director Michael Taiano said.

Just like Equifax mentioned, Taiano pointed out that underwriting for vehicle installment contracts and leases continued to tighten for banks during the second half of last year — albeit at a more moderate pace — which Fitch views as a credit positive.

The Fitch expert explained the tighter standards are likely in response to deterioration in used-vehicle prices and weaker credit performance in the subprime segment. After a respite in during the second half of 2017 that was partially due to increased vehicle demand stemming from the hurricanes in Texas and Florida, Fitch expects further deterioration in used-vehicle prices in 2018 to be driven by increases in off-lease vehicles, elevated new-model incentives and tighter subprime financing.

Taiano went on to stress that lower used-vehicle prices will put downward pressure on finance companies’ recovery values and lease residuals, resulting in higher credit losses.

“The outlook in 2018 for auto asset quality is clouded to some extent by macro crosscurrents. Positive indicators including greater household net worth, low unemployment and increased wage growth are countered by rising consumer debt levels, weaker used vehicle prices and rising interest rates,” Taiano said.

The complete report, U.S. Auto Asset Quality Review: 4Q17, is available to premium subscribers at www.fitchratings.com.

New hires: 3 executives join Wise F&I and eLEND Solutions

FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif., and ST. LOUIS - 

Wise F&I and eLEND Solutions each recently expanded their executive teams, citing growth.

First, over at eLEND Solutions, a provider in online and in-store finance and “deal-making” solutions for dealers, built its sales team with two proven auto finance sales leaders. Joe Peterson has joined as chief sales officer and Flory Hunsaker as regional sales director.

Together, they will lead the formation of eLEND’s national sales team to fuel the roll out of the company’s upcoming next-stage F&I solution. The new solution can help dealers complete profitable deals in “record time,” while reducing the costly contract rewrites that plague even the most experienced sales and F&I managers

The company said this new solution will launch into the market in the second quarter.

“I call Joe and Flory the dynamic duo; they come to eLEND after working together to build a huge and successful portfolio of over 9,000 dealer customers,” said Pete MacInnis, chief executive officer of eLEND Solutions.

“They will be instrumental as we usher in this exciting new phase in our growth,” MacInnis continued. “Their deep experience in both the auto retailing and financing space, and impressive past successes, perfectly position them to bring our innovative new products and services to market.”

In an environment where customers are hyper-sensitive to time and hassle — and are demanding quick approval for financing — the challenge is to eliminate process dead zones, streamline the experience and, importantly, reduce cost to the dealer. Peterson and Hunsaker are building a sales team that will help retail professionals simplify this all-important part of the vehicle buyer’s journey with products that crunches millions of pieces of data into a user-friendly platform, without sacrificing profit or losing lender relationships.

With an average of 13 percent of contracts being rewritten, eLEND believes it’s a key issue and a significant cost risk to dealers and their finance sources.

“The scientific approach that eLEND Solutions brings to such challenges is the reason we joined this team — and what makes the company a key transformative player heading into the future,” Peterson said.

Peterson’s career spans 30-plus years in the automotive brand, retail and finance space. During that time, he has held key leadership positions with companies such as Gateway One, Reynolds & Reynolds and Capital One, among others.

Each opportunity has brought with it a chance to expand his expertise, and bring to bear a management style based on a results-driven approach to problem solving. Peterson has been especially known for his ability to use trend-based market analysis to boost market share and revenue. He is widely known as a customer-first advocate who puts his focus on developing a positive rapport through solid business relationships.

“Joining eLEND Solutions to help dealers bridge the gaps in the current auto finance process and simplify what is currently an incredibly complex and inefficient process is an opportunity I deeply relish,” Peterson said.

Hunsaker brings 25 years of experience in the automotive lending industry, including a decade at Gateway One where she rose through the ranks based on her excellence in sales, new market development and leadership. Most recently, she served as regional VP, Southwest states and built a highly success sales team with over $80 million monthly in loan originations.

Goal-oriented and visionary, among her many achievements at Gateway One were creating its first employee training program, developing and managing a credit/sales team for mega dealer groups and helping generate significant metrics improvements across the company’s sales initiatives.

“We’re excited to help bring forth the next chapter of eLEND Solutions to dealers and can’t wait to show customers what we have in store for the future of automotive retail and lending: from innovations in workflow and decisioning to streamlining the process of making the best match between customer and lender,” Hunsaker said.

Wise F&I hires Miller as director of client services

Meanwhile, Wise F&I is expanding its team with the addition of Lynn Miller as director of client services. Wise F&I has experienced continued growth over the last decade and is pleased to add a leader with a track record of success to enhance the client services department.

The company said Miller will provide oversight and management to the client services department, as well as increase client support initiatives.

Miller has more than 20 years of experience in the insurance industry working for companies such as GMAC Insurance and Fireman’s Fund Insurance. Her experiences include positions in sales, service and operations. Miller ran the Personal Lines Division for Quality Assurance at Fireman’s Fund.

As a member of the management committee, Miller will play an important role in Wise F&I’s continued growth.

“Through Miller’s management and leadership of the client services department, I’m looking forward to bringing that next level of client support to our agents, dealers and lenders,” said Matt Croak, president of Wise F&I.

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