Transparency, Technology, Customer Service Major Topics at AFSA’s CEO Panel

CEOs of leading vehicle finance companies representing captives, banks and independent subprime lenders engaged in a lively roundtable discussion on topics ranging from the impact of technology to taking care of a new wave of maturing Millennial customers at last week’s annual Vehicle Finance Conference & Exposition hosted by the American Financial Services Association (AFSA).

On the topic of the customer experience in the vehicle financing process, Rich Hyde, Chief Operating Officer of Utah-based Prestige Financial Services, said he is watching the prime space from the vantage point of a subprime lender.

“It is easier to access communications with the customer beginning with the mobile aspect (of customer engagement),” he said. “Subprime lenders also want mobile capabilities and want an easy process of communicating with customers.”

Ravi Raghu, President of Capital One Auto Finance, Inc., said his team is determining the factors that will shape the future of the industry.

“On the one hand, consumers are expecting transparency (in the purchasing and financing process),” he said. “Meanwhile, dealers are trying to adapt to shrinking margins.”

Dan Berce, President & CEO of GM Financial, a subsidiary of General Motors, said the value-add for GMF is to create loyalty to the brand.

“Even though average transaction prices are increasing, the cars are worth more which is creating higher residual values and strengthening the CPO (Certified Pre-Owned) market for dealers,” he said.

On Millennial’s approach to the car-buying process, Rich Morrin, President of Chrysler Capital and Auto Relationships for Santander Consumer USA, said the trend is moving toward an easy, global process where the vehicle is delivered to the buyer versus a three-to-four-hour visit to a dealership.

“No matter what age the customer is, the entire process has to be transparent,” he said. “The way we transact and offer different options to finance needs to be clear.”

Raghu said the top priority that Capital One Auto Finance measures is customer loyalty.

“Millennials are always researching,” he said. “We have a new feature at Cap One that is a mobile app that allows the customer to scan the vehicle and we provide the financing details back to the customer.”

Berce offered a contrasting view on customer loyalty from the captive’s perspective.

“We are looking at manufacturer loyalty, rather than GMF loyalty,” he said. “We have two different customers: dealers and consumers.”

All of the CEO panelists agreed that factors like speed to delivery, delivering value, transformation to adoption, customer experience, Big Data and Machine Learning are adding to the complexity of the traditional indirect and the growing direct lending processes going forward.