How to Win the ‘War on Talent’

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What makes a great lender? Is it the technology, the tactics and strategy set by management, or perhaps the traditions of the institution? Those things are important, but every successful venture starts with having the right people in the right job. Culture, as the saying goes, trumps strategy every time.

But the best people are not necessarily easy to get, especially in a competitive field such as auto lending.

The war for good talent in the auto finance industry has intensified, said Paul Clark, president and chief executive at TD Auto Finance, at the 2014 Auto Finance Summit during his keynote address Tuesday in Las Vegas.

TD Auto has the benefit of entering the auto finance space with a relatively unbiased view, as a newcomer to the space with only about 10 years under its belt, said Clark. Conversely, the company does not have the wealth of experience other banks and lenders may have.

Instead, TD has focused on a few “key ingredients for winning the war on talent,” according to Clark: creating a company culture, focusing on a diverse and inclusive environment, and maintaining values on the front line in the communities it serves. Clark advised his peers to always aim to hire people that are smarter than you. He also showed a television commercial where TD used an enhanced ATM — in this case, an automated thanking machine — to delight a few carefully selected customers.

How were those customers selected? By TD’s tellers who had served them day in, day out over the years. If people, a company’s most precious resource, are not well supported, there is little chance the organization will flourish.

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