“Visionary, transparent, approachable” are just a few ways Susan Sheffield, chief financial officer for GM Financial, describes Dan Berce’s leadership style. She has worked with Berce for more than 19 years.
Berce has served as chief executive of GM Financial, formally AmeriCredit, since August 2005, having held the role of president from 2003 to 2005, and chief financial officer from 1990 to 2003. Prior to joining the company, Berce worked as an auditor and partner with Coopers and Lybrand for 14 years.
“I would consider my leadership style to be empathetic. I listen and really let people do their jobs and do what they’re best at,” Berce told AFN. “Having a numbers background, I’m also pretty analytical and data-driven so I think that’s also a big part of how I approach things.”
Sheffield said Berce leads by supporting and trusting his team, and engaging when necessary. “I personally love that balance because I know I can go talk to him and bounce ideas off him, but I also know that he trusts that I and my team are going to strive to do a really good job,” she said.e
Berce is a leader who cares about people, Kyle Birch, president of North America operations, told AFN, adding that Berce had helped him through a personal tragedy. “The conversations and guidance weren’t about work; they were focused on me and my young girls. We have a wonderful culture,” Birch said.
Under Berce’s leadership, GM Financial’s origination volume for loans and leases increased in the third quarter to $12.8 billion, up from $11.3 billion a year ago, largely driven by retail loan growth and higher retail penetrations due to General Motors’ incentive programs and dealer engagement, according to the lender’s Q3 earnings report.
“Back in April, if you would have asked me if I would have envisioned the results that we ended up reporting in the third quarter, I would have been shocked that things turned out as well as they did,” Berce said. “We acted really quickly … to make sure our dealers were healthy.”
GM Financial deferred interest on dealer floorplan lines of credit, waived curtailment payments and consulted with dealers individually to address their needs, Berce noted. Partnering with General Motors, the captive also drove sales by offering 0% APR financing for 84 months with 120-day payment deferrals for consumers.
GM Financial’s penetration rate in the third quarter also improved, coming in at 42.6%, up from 36.7% a year ago. GM delivered 665,192 vehicles in the third quarter, a 10% year-over-year decline, according to the OEM. Berce said the goal in 2021 is to increase the captive’s penetration rate of General Motors sales to 50%.
“Going into 2021, I’m looking forward to working with General Motors to drive their sales,” he said. “We’re striving in 2021 to improve customer satisfaction and dealer engagement.”
Berce also said a long-term goal is to increase the percentage of dealers on GM Financial’s floorplan to more than 50% from the current 31%. “Dan has always stressed the importance of building solid relationships within the GM Financial and GM family, with business partners and with our consumer and dealer customers,” Birch said.
GM Financial has also embraced digital processes, a need accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The lender increased dealer adoption of existing digital programs, including the captive’s approval center, a self-service platform which dealers use to submit credit applications for automatic review.
Next year, GM Financial will push for more dealer adoption of e-contracting, stress the adoption of online credit applications on dealer websites, and improve the automation of underwriting processes, Berce said. “[We’re] trying to digitize the whole finance process, from the dealership and all through the paperwork, and in conclusion of the deal,” he added.
Work-from-home measures will continue to be part of GM Financial’s culture into 2021, with employees working remotely until at least June, Berce added.
The company will also continue to prioritize diversity and inclusion, efforts Berce personally oversees. “We have done a lot of listening with our employee base, and heard what directions they would like the company to head. We’re looking at the demographics of our workforce and making sure we have more intentional recruitment for people of color,” he noted.
Sheffield said Berce’s vision has created opportunities for people to grow and develop in the company. “It’s been an incredible journey with Dan at the helm leading us,” she said. “He’s been there all along the way, cheering, coaching and helping us think through what the future looks like.”