Five questions with … GM Financial Chief Operating Officer Jonas Hollandsworth

Photographer: Cole Burston/Bloomberg

Jonas Hollandsworth

Jonas Hollandsworth knows that a captive’s role is to support the OEM and its dealers — a role he has embraced as GM Financial’s chief operating officer.

Hollandsworth has more than 22 years’ experience with GM Financial, including at AmeriCredit before the General Motors’ acquisition of the subprime lender. He served in leadership roles covering dealer services, sales and credit operations before being named chief operating officer in January 2020. When Hollandsworth joined the organization, he started in financial planning analysis.

“I was fortunate in that role to see how the business works, to see what made the company work, to understand the various functions and understand how they work together. That gave me a different perspective,” Hollandsworth told Auto Finance News. “When I decided to come over to the dealer service side of the world, I came in with a completely different mindset and skill set. It was challenging at times, but very beneficial.”

Hollandsworth has employed his perspective in helping lead GM Financial’s focus on providing unique solutions to attract General Motors dealers, he said. These include dealer dividends, incentive programs for both floorplan and non-floorplan dealers, and the captive’s approval center, a self-service platform dealers use to submit credit applications for automatic review.

“As an evolving captive, we’ve had to really work on what are we bringing that’s different, that sets us apart, that makes us unique, and that adds value to a dealership,” Hollandsworth said. “It’s thinking about not just our floorplan dealers, but we’re the captive for all General Motors dealers so we need to be progressive and find different ways to engage with dealers [so] they feel like they’re getting value.”

Auto Finance Excellence asked Hollandsworth five questions to learn about his goals for GM Financial, leading lending trends, and a surprising career fact his colleagues may not know about him.

Auto Finance Excellence: What are your company goals in about 10 words or less?

Jonas Hollandsworth: Leveraging our value proposition to grow relationships with General Motors dealers.

AFE: What is your favorite piece of leadership advice you ever received?

JH: To listen. Listen to not only our employees, but to listen to our end customers.

We’ve been on this path of growth and evolution for some time now, and it continues to some degree. I’ve had the opportunity to participate alongside my counterparts at GM on various dealer councils. I have personal relationships with, and the opportunity to engage with, several very influential, very successful dealers. I’m most productive when I’m listening, when I’m open-minded.

My background is different than a lot of people in my role. I didn’t come up sitting at a credit desk, I didn’t underwrite loans, I didn’t make dealer calls. So, it’s important for my growth and my understanding to get a pulse from our team and from our customers. The only way you can do that is to listen.

When I went out, as an operations leader at the time, I didn’t go out to the field and start being an air traffic controller, saying “this is what we should do, and this is how we should do it.” I would literally go out with a pad and pen and sit with the team and listen, or talk to dealers and listen, and write notes and take them back.

AFE: Who has had the biggest influence on your career?

JH: President of North America Operations for GM Financial Kyle Birch, and Chris Choate, former chief financial officer.

I’ve always been a very driven and focused person about, I have a job to do, and this is my job, and you must color within the lines. But they really showed me the importance of balancing everything, ensuring that we had a strong and healthy culture. In some ways as a leader, you don’t have to take yourself too seriously. You don’t have to be suited up and your tie straight all the time. Being a leader is also being approachable, and to have fun and celebrate with your team.

We’ve had a lot of reasons to celebrate over the years, and that’s been one of the most rewarding things for me, being able to be on that journey and celebrate alongside the team. I want them to feel the same way in their roles. You know, it doesn’t have to all be work, work, work all the time. We need to celebrate our successes along the way.

AFE: What do you think is the most underrated lending trend?

JH: The most underrated, or maybe under-mentioned, trend in lending is the people. I think we’ve lost sight of our team members at times.

There’s so much focus today on digitization and automation, and we met with dealers about that. It’s super important. But never forget how good your team is, and how important your team is to your customers. At the end of the day, you can have all this stuff, but part of your value proposition is your team.

You need to continue to invest in your team, and to not overlook the contributions that they make to the business and to the relationships when you’re moving forward on this path of automation and digitization. Because those relationships in [dealers’] minds become a differentiator for us as well.

It’s really a good wakeup call that we focus so much on [the digital] parts of the business, which are important. Investment in those things is so important, but our team is important as well.

We’re excited that we were able to function as well as we did during COVID and in a remote environment. In fact, our productivity as a team has improved, which is great. We’re going to be measured about how we return to work and protect the benefits that we’ve seen working remotely. But we also think it’s important to get the team back in the office and, at the same time, put their welfare above all else.

AFE: What is something your employees would be surprised to learn about you?

JH: I’ve had responsibility for sales and credit basically since the acquisition [of AmeriCredit] in 2011.

In January 2020, right before COVID, I assumed responsibility of chief operating officer of all of our dealer services. Our dealer-facing functions include not only sales and credit, but funding, our commercial lending, all of our systems, training, support, all of that now reports through me.

I’m not a trained dealer services person. I didn’t underwrite. I didn’t make sales calls. I’ve never funded a deal personally. Commercial vehicle lending and commercial floorplan lending were all new concepts to me. I think there would be a lot of my team that would be surprised to know that I haven’t sat in their seat, I haven’t done what they’d done.

I haven’t sat in all those roles, but I understand them. I also listen to the team to understand what’s challenging them, how we need to respond to certain things, and how we need to grow. When it’s all said and done, I’m the leader of the group, but they’re the experts, and I trust their expertise.

Exit mobile version