As vehicle sales slow and consumers look to secure financing outside the dealership, lenders’ credit analysts and sales reps are becoming critical elements in a smooth auto finance operation.
That’s what the latest J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Dealer Financing Satisfaction Study found based on results from 16,800 retail credit and 2,100 floorplan provider evaluations from dealer personnel. Lenders need to ensure credit and sales personnel are available, knowledgeable and empowered to improve dealer satisfaction and enhance the lender’s value proposition, said Jim Houston, senior director of automotive finance intelligence at J.D. Power. An analysis based on factors including relationship; provider offerings; application and approval process; and lease return showed which lenders were ranked highest among dealers – and which crossed the finish line last.
In the captive segment, Volkswagen Credit ranked highest with a satisfaction score of 961 on J.D. Power’s 1,000-point scale. Suburu Motors Finance placed second at 940, and Mazda Capital Services placed third at 921. In last place, GM Financial trailed Hyundai Motor Finance with scores of 768 and 836, respectively.
On the whole, captive lenders outranked non-captive lenders with an average of 877 versus 840.
Meanwhile, Citizens One Auto Finance notched the top spot on the non-captive side, with a score of 935. TD Auto Finance, Ally Financial, Huntington National Bank, and Security Service Federal CU rounded out the top five. Consumer Portfolio Services was the lowest ranked non-captive lender with a score of 681. CPS SVP of Sales Curt Powell said mixing prime and subprime lenders into one group rating might not warrant an accurate rating. “The bottom six lenders are all subprime companies. Comparing the dealer experience and process for prime and subprime lenders doesn’t make sense to me — it’s apples and oranges and the survey results show that exact outcome,” he wrote to AFN in an email. Still, he said CPS continues to work on every aspect of the company dealer services to “reduce friction” wherever they can for dealers.
“This year, we’ve realigned our origination team so dealers work with the same CPS personnel on all their loans, we’ve launched an online deal structure tool—saving dealers time, improved our preferred dealer program and streamlined many of our funding processes,” Powell said, noting the results of these initiatives have been very positive for the company.
“Dealers are able to put together more attractive, seamless transactions for their customers when they are able to work in lock-step with lenders they trust to deliver fast, accurate and competitive products,” Houston said. “Credit analysts and sales personnel perform some of the most important functions for dealers looking to match customers’ purchase with the right financial transaction,” he added.