Auto Finance News is pleased to present its inaugural Executives to Watch feature, highlighting auto finance executives who exude experience, leadership and vision, and are expected to shake up the industry in 2020 and beyond.
Ian Anderson’s first financial services position was at a bank close to the beach, a job he chose so he could surf at lunchtime. The traits he developed riding the waves — patience, flexibility and determination — have enabled Anderson to grow Westlake Financial’s portfolio 40% year over year, to $8 billion, and steer the company to No. 30 on the Big Wheels Auto Finance Data ranking of the nation’s top financiers.
Anderson, group president at Westlake Financial and the executive responsible for Westlake Financial and its six subsidiaries, leads a team of 2,300 employees, executing the company’s management with laser precision and a fresh approach.
That mindset has created for Westlake a multi-faceted business that reaches beyond traditional auto finance. In the past year, the Los Angeles-based company has launched direct and peer-to-peer lending businesses and a mortgage lending offering for dealerships. It has expanded its third-party servicing operation and started to lend in Canada.
Inevitably, though, the road to success is bumpy. “We’ll try 10 things, eight will fail, two will be a success, and one we’ll actually move forward,” Anderson explained. Constant innovation is one of Westlake’s core values, bolstered by the fact that all executives starting at the director level are well-versed in Microsoft Excel and fluent in coding languages SQL and Visual Basic.
“That’s what makes us different,” Anderson he said. “I tend to think we’re a technology company that does auto finance,” he added, pointing out that an in-house program, dubbed Westlake University, teaches technical skills to interested employees. “We’re able to get that data, analyze it and make a decision very quickly.”
Coming up on his 15th anniversary with the lender, Anderson is focused portfolio growth in the prime and super-prime space, which accounts for 11% of Westlake’s business, from 4% in 2012. Anderson is also looking to deepen existing strategic partnerships with dealership groups Berkshire Hathaway, AutoNation and CarMax, as well as pass-through programs with Ally Financial and Flagship Credit Acceptance. Already, the ink is drying on three more pass-through agreements slated to start next year, he noted.
Westlake will leverage partnerships with online marketplaces, too. A fresh deal to provide financing on the CarGurus buying platform is likely to boost volume next year. To prop up its peer-to-peer lending business, Westlake is working with Tred in a partnership slated to launch in early 2020. With the seven businesses under his watch and new ventures in sight, Anderson is steering Westlake to catch the next wave.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the December issue of Auto Finance News, available now.