Bank of the West has started the process of expanding its credit band to include nearprime loans, Michael Pereira, the bank’s head of personal finance and executive vice president, told Auto Finance News.
The transition begins with a new preferred lender U.S. program (PLUS) launching in California. “We would really look at a full-spectrum approach in terms of being equalized between the three buckets of segments — superprime, prime, and near-prime,” Pereira said. “We don’t have a holistic approach with our dealer partners, and we are only focused on part of their financing needs,” he said, which is why the bank has strategized this shift in its model. “Our objective is to align with what we do internationally, and move to a more relationship-oriented space, where we are creating meaningful and deep relationships with our dealers.”
However, the shift involves more than building out the bank’s credit appetite; it includes digital aspects, such as optimizing its dealer interface to improve service, collections, and turnaround time, he said. The PLUS program “is still in project mode, and the overall change is set to take place in the coming years.” Bank of the West ended 2016 with $5.4 billion in outstandings, according to Big Wheels Auto Finance 2017, and makes loans for more
than 3,000 dealers.