Platinum Auto Finance Open to Implementing Alternative Data | Auto Finance News | Auto Finance News

Platinum Auto Finance Open to Implementing Alternative Data

Despite a recent move up the credit spectrum, Platinum Auto Finance is open to the idea of utilizing alternative data in its lending processes, David Knightly, senior vice president of operations, told Auto Finance News. “If it helps me scale in a way that I need, in the space that I play in, then absolutely, I’m interested,” he said.

Alternative data refers to elements of a consumer’s behavior that don’t normally show up in traditional credit reports but could help lenders gain enough insights about to be willing to extend credit. While Platinum is open to having conversations surrounding alternative data, the need for nontraditional underwriting tools lessens as the company is shifting away from its deep-subprime focus.

“As we move out of having a lesser percentage of our new originations that resides in deep-subprime — below 550 or 545 — some of that alternative data becomes less necessary,” Knightly said.

The decision about alternative data falls under the strategic operational initiatives Knightly was tasked with overseeing when he joined Clearwater, Fla.-based Platinum in January. Knightly is also responsible for sales and partnership efforts in the company’s seven-state footprint including Florida and North Carolina.

Previously, Knightly was vice president of sales and marketing at Innovate Auto Finance, where his responsibilities included managing and building new sales teams, and leading initiatives for portfolio management. Knightly has worked as a sales manager at Capital One Auto Finance, Exeter Finance Corp., GM Financial, and Gateway One Lending & Finance.

AFN spoke with Knightly about his new role, priorities at Platinum Auto Finance, and his thoughts on the auto finance industry. Following are edited excerpts from the interview:

AFN: What are your main responsibilities as SVP of operations?

DK: I pretty much run the origination side of the business. That channel that drives our revenue reports up through me, and I have a great team below me, so I’m stress-free from a human resource capital standpoint. I also oversee some of the collections efforts. I’m starting to get into that more as it moves along here. I’ve been working on the marketing of the business, [that is,] the way I want to market the company — where I think there’s a fit for us at a car dealership to do financing that maybe others can’t afford, or there’s limited competition in the space because we do it the right way.

AFN: What are your long-term goals for this role?

DK: I wouldn’t say that I have a goal, per se, for my career, although we’ll see where that takes us. But for the company, what pays dividends in the long term is slow, profitable loan growth while remaining patient and under control.

AFN: How are you positioning Platinum Auto Finance to withstand challenges in the market?

DK: The people we bank with are extremely happy with us because we’re able to provide predictable analytics data. We do what we say, our stuff comes in regularly, they like the way we’re scaling, so it becomes less scary. When all the press is negative  — [saying things] like, ‘It’s all bad,’ ‘Delinquencies are up,’ and so forth,. what does that mean? Is it a service bucket? Is it a loan charge? You can’t just throw that out and go negative. If you were in the stock market and you were going to invest in it and you said, ’OK, what’s the right time to invest?’ The best time to invest is when the press is all bad and the Dow is down. I mean, lots of millionaires came out of 2008. Those people had money parked on the sidelines. So, all these other lenders that are facing headwinds — both from the auction and from a pricing perspective, because we borrow all our money to loan our money — the smarter that people are that manage through during that period of time, there’s extremely profitable business to be had through there, if you control your prices.

AFN: What are your thoughts on the future of the industry?

DK: I think that the industry as a whole is a lot healthier than is reported. Are there going to be some bumps? Yes, there are going to be more people exiting than jumping into this in a couple years, but this is an extremely resilient business if you do it right. If you’re smart and you have good maturity to do the right thing even when it’s hard, it’s a business that can be really long-lasting. I think all the publicity is pretty negative right now, and I think that’s just wrong.

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