Auto finance

The buzz at AFS East 2023

Photo of colorful toy cars - Image by on Freepik

Last week the Prodigal team was spread out across Las Vegas, New York, Milwaukee and Nashville. Pretty sure the Prodigal AFS East team won this competition because Nashville has the 9-foot chicken wire sculpture of Dolly Parton.

Here’s what we heard folks talking about at AFS East (besides that sculpture, because it is bananas).

1. Fintech and digitizing operations

These were really two different conversations but the Venn diagram of them was pretty cool, so let’s put them together.

Fintech is driving disruption in auto finance throughout the loan lifecycle:

  • Approval via AI and alternative data
  • Loan processing
  • Purchase transparency
  • Rates and refinancing
  • Dealer connection
  • Floorplan management
  • Fraud prevention
  • Servicing improvements

There were two great panels on this - “Implementing an Enhanced Digital Strategy” and “Finding Success in Fintech Partnerships.

The reason fintech is making inroads in those spaces and beyond is because they are ripe for digitization - not to brag (okay, we’re bragging a little), but we speak from experience here; we’ve seen firsthand how our solutions can modernize loan servicing and improve customer experience.

2. Agent coaching and training

“How do I know my agents are saying the right things?”

“Half of them skip around so I’m not sure they’re covering what they need to.”

“We want more training, but our managers don’t have the time.”

We heard at least a dozen different iterations of these statements - it’s not just hiring agents that’s the issue (though that is an issue!), it’s how you onboard them and continue to train them.

None of these folks are alone - we actually just hosted a great webinar about this (check out the recap - the secret to agent motivation is…Girl Scout cookies?).

But to go back to our first point, this is where AI and technology shine. Repetitive tasks are boring for humans, but robots don’t care. 

So we encourage auto finance servicing leaders to look for options to support their agents - like real-time agent assistance that can reduce ramp time (by, like, 50% - watch the video over here —>) and coach agents through calls so they don’t have to worry about remembering all the compliance pieces on their own.

Or automated call notes so reps don’t have to be distracted by typing during calls. Or AI that tags and scores calls so your managers have the time to spend with agents.

But also, believe us on the Girl Scout cookies. We would do just about anything for a Tagalong.

3. Sub-prime wobbles

We knew delinquencies were coming. We talked about this a while ago in our webinar about the top threats to auto finance
But as one of our panelists said then, in some ways, a sub-prime auto borrower is actually a more reliable borrower because they need their car.

However, we also saw American Car Center and U.S. Auto Sales close earlier this year, and as Auto Finance Summit East organizer Auto Finance News reported, dealers are having to look for new lending partners for subprime.

AFN recapped the core of these conversations here and here, so we’ll defer to them, but we are definitely connecting with our customers who service subprime customers to see how we can make sure they’re working efficiently to keep revenue high and costs low.

Back home

All of these conversations could have kept us there for ages, but you can only eat so much hot chicken, and we’ll be back to Nashville next month for HFMA Annual, so we’ll say goodbye for now. Drive safe!