Global Lending Services relies on the long-term success of direct business

Steve Thibodeau, CEO of Global Loan Services

Global loan services is establishing a direct lending business, a CEO move Steve thibodeau calls “the next speed of [the company’s] engine of growth. As the Atlanta-based auto lender controls short-term aspirations – Thibodeau said he doesn’t see the direct business as a big volume driver for next year – he expects it to do so. is an essential part of long-term success. organisation.

“We see this as a growth engine for the future, and something that we are starting to invest in now,” Thibodeau said.

At the helm of the company, Thibodeau is focused on growth – hiring 53 employees in June alone; develop the direct-to-consumer sales business; strengthen the indirect platform by adding nearly
200 dealers each month; and, the overhaul of the subprime lender’s decision-making process. With all of that on his plate, Thibodeau shared the lessons learned from his 20-year career in auto finance, the top challenges on his radar, and what it takes to start a direct lending business. The following is an edited version of Thibodeau’s conversation with AFE.

Excellence in automotive financing: How are you applying the lessons learned from your tenure in the auto finance industry to the evolving industry?

Steve thibodeau: Never stop innovating. The market is constantly changing. To stay ahead, we need to outdo the competition, outdo thinking and innovation. Our competitive advantage is our ability to innovate new products that better meet the needs of dealers and customers at a much faster rate than the rest of the market.

GLS was one of the first non-bank financial companies to offer fully automated decision making; we were one of the first to develop transfer programs; and we were one of the first to allow customers to pre-arrange financing through their mobile device. We are now leveraging all of this learning and ability to reinvent the direct-to-indirect shopping experience for the
non-prime market.

AFE: What prompted GLS to create a direct consumer loan business? How do you see this business developing next year?

ST: We have been studying the market and consumer behavior for quite some time. Like all other sectors of the economy, consumers are slowly migrating to online shopping. At first, customers would go online just to get information. Then they started to use the Internet to locate the vehicle inventory. Ultimately, this led to the pricing of the vehicles, and now customers are starting to explore financing these deals by pre-qualifying for loans before going to the dealership. We want to be there for the reseller and the consumer throughout the process, where and when they choose to explore their options.

We will begin testing a direct-indirect program in the fourth quarter with a pilot group of dealers in a test region. Our goal is to hone the right dealership and customer experience through this pilot and ultimately roll out the program nationwide to all of our dealerships. We do not have a specific timeline for full deployment except to say that we will scale with market demand and
our dealers.

AFE: What operational and logistical changes has GLS put in place to support the new direct-to-consumer business enterprise?

ST: Customers have very short attention spans online. In just a few seconds, a pop-up or banner ad can distract customers and drive them completely to another site. Lenders must provide lightning-fast approvals and quotes on all possible vehicle options to meet the demands of today’s customers. GLS has made significant investments in our decision-making infrastructure to be able to deliver near-instant decisions.

It is also important to have a smooth customer experience. Consumers should be able to effortlessly switch from online approval to a portfolio of dealer options, and then be able to quickly cycle through different vehicle options, terms, payments, and more.

Finally, there is a staffing element that needs to be resolved. It’s important to have people who can help customers with the shopping experience, as well as navigate their different options. We must serve customers through their preferred communication style, whether by phone, chat, text or email.

AFE: What are the main challenges on your radar and how do you allocate your time?

ST: For me, it’s always about focusing on talent, risk, growth and capital. I spend 90% of my time focusing on these four key areas. Talent is by far the most important, because if you can fix the problem, the other three areas seem to take care of themselves.

I interview 10 to 15 candidates per month for different positions and consult 30 or 40 CVs or LinkedIn profiles. As a growing organization, we are looking for opportunities and are always looking to add talent to the team. We have a high bar for what we expect, and I am constantly amazed at the level of creativity and innovation across the company.

From a risk perspective, we are aware that we are way behind in the cycle. This is something we talk about a lot as a management team, as well as at the board level. We continued to focus on improving our decision-making capabilities by adding data sources and constantly monitoring our loss performance. As a lender, you can’t avoid a recession, but you can certainly position yourself to weather the storm better and come out a winner on the other side.

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