How NAF Association embraces ‘tribal culture’

NAF Association president Mark Floyd addresses attendees as executive director Jack Tracey looks on during the 21st annual Non-Prime Auto Financing Conference on Thursday in Plano, Texas. (Photo by Nick Zulovich)
PLANO, Texas - 

Mark Floyd is the current and Steve Hall is the immediate past president of the National Automotive Finance Association.

In their own ways, both Floyd and Hall conveyed to the attendees of the NAF Association’s 21st annual Non-Prime Auto Financing Conference how the organization resembles a community with members who are more like friends than just industry participants or even competitors.

“I always considered Steve one of the thought leaders in our organization,” Floyd said during the opening segment of Thursday’s conference activities. “I didn’t always agree with him, but he’s someone who I would consider that makes us think outside the box.”

While Hall couldn’t attend this week’s gathering, he shared a note with NAF Association leadership that Floyd shared in part. Hall used some terminology that triggered this reaction Floyd acknowledged: “When I first read that I thought, ‘Really, Steve?’ … Then I thought, he’s got something here.”

What Floyd initially questioned was Hall trying to convey that the NAF Association should generate a “tribal culture.” Hall’s reasoning stemmed from what members are facing nowadays — particularly finance companies that operate in the non-prime and deeper portions of the credit spectrum. The trials include rising delinquencies, a potential reduction in capital availability as well as the ongoing pressure to perform by stakeholders and regulators.

Floyd turned back to Hall’s note, telling several hundred attendees, “As we think about some of the challenges we’re facing today, we’ve seen most of them before. So we should be thinking about what tools, analytics, educational programs and content we can give our members to help them be successful, which (NAF Association executive director Jack Tracey) and the team have done a really great job of.”

Floyd continued with Hall’s sentiment, saying, “I think there is an opportunity to create a tribal culture within our membership where people feel a part of group that has common values, beliefs, customs and rituals — interesting choice of words — about how the subprime industry should function. We can create a community where people come together to help each other be successful. That’s really what we do here.”

While the NAF Association has hosted this event filled with training and updates on regulatory matters, industry trends and networking for more than two decades, Floyd recalled the first time he attended this conference.  

“I think it was 1996,” Floyd said as he gestured from behind a lectern adding, “We could fit everybody in half of one of these sections; it was about 25 or 30 people.

“I remember thinking I’m not really sure I want to be part of this group,” Floyd continued. “And I’m glad I’ve been part of the group. We’ve grown friendships and we’ve grown a community. It’s really a nice group to be a part of.

“I feel like the conversations I have with everybody, we really are looking out for each other. That’s that tribal community Steve was talking about. I feel that and that’s a genuine feeling. I feel that from people I talk with in the industry,” Floyd went on to say.

Thursday’s activities included a back-and-forth conversation involving Calvin Hagins, deputy assistant director for originations at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Michael Benoit, who is chairman at Hudson Cook. Panel sessions about capital availability and a major accounting change associated with reserving for potential losses as well as the final conference presentation by retiring Cox Automotive chief economist Tom Webb filled the day.

Floyd agreed with the closing portion of Hall noted when he shared that the NAF Association is “where people feel they are a part of a group of like-minded and valued leaders who are committed to helping each other pursue greatness in their businesses.”

Editor’s note: More expert analysis from the 21st annual Non-Prime Auto Financing Conference will be included in future reports distributed through SubPrime News Update.