Five Questions With is a monthly Q&A segment on AutoFinanceExcellence.org that offers a glimpse of what senior industry executives are thinking about outside the boardroom. Read on to find out.
As President of Huntington Auto Finance, Rich Porrello is at the helm of a $12.5 billion dollar business that serves more than 4,500 dealerships across 23 states in the Midwest and New England. In his 32 years at the national bank, Porrello has worked in variety of positions spanning the bank’s entire auto operations, including compliance, sales, indirect loan underwriting, commercial underwriting and collections.
Despite his myriad of different roles, however, Porrello leverages consistency and his upbringing to keep him focused on future growth.
Auto Finance Excellence asked Porrello five questions to find out what his company goals are, advice that helped him earn top management roles, and a surprising fact that his colleagues would never suspect. What follows is an edited transcript of the interview.
Auto Finance Excellence: What are your company goals in 10 words or less?
Rich Porrello: I’m going to do it in nine: Make lives better, help businesses thrive and strengthen communities.
AFE: What is your favorite piece of leadership advice you’ve ever received?
I grew up in a very blue-collar household. My father worked construction most of his life and I worked construction with him the summers between while going to college. It was always about “you have to work hard and you have to lead by example.” Going to work with him on the construction projects, it was always very obvious: if you were the foreman, you always lead by example and that was probably the best advice I’ve ever received. Its something I’ve embraced and try to do for my people. Walk the talk and lead by example.
AFE: What do you think is the most underrated trend in lending practices?
RP: I’m going to say it’s one word: consistency. It’s not glamorous in many ways but I think it’s underrated because so important, especially in lending — it’s important to your customers, it’s important to your colleagues, and it’s important to your shareholders when you get it right.
If you go back to 2000 and 2010 and you look at our historical performance, we’ve been very consistent. We’ve been focused on prime and super-prime customers. We’ve been focused on getting answers to our dealers very quickly. It’s been very important that we’ve stayed in our line and I think it rewards our colleagues, customers and — again — shareholders. This is a business that we’ve been in for over 70 years and that’s rewarded us as well.
AFE: What person has had the biggest influence on your career?
RP: If I’m keeping it in the family, I would tell you it’s my wife. We both graduated from college together in ’87 in Cleveland. She worked for another company, I went to work for Huntington Bank. We’re both in the Cleveland area and then in 1993, she got a very large promotion to move to Indianapolis with her company. I went to the bank and said ‘Hey, can you find a position for me to move to Indianapolis?’ and they did. It really offered the opportunity for me to do something different in auto finance, which was to get on the sales side and meet more people outside of our Cleveland market.
That opportunity really caused me to excel on the sales side and then actually grow my career with Huntington Bank. Ultimately, in 1998, Huntington moved me back to Columbus, which is our headquarters. So I’d say my wife influenced my career the most knowing that she was the reason why we moved to Indianapolis in the first place, which is what jump started my career.
AFE: What’s something all your employees would be surprised to learn about you?
RP: I’m not the biggest risk taker in the whole world, but 35 years ago my wife and I were out with our friends after dinner and I was dared to go bungee jumping — and I did. It was relatively quickly after dinner and it was in downtown Cleveland. It was really exciting but most of my colleagues probably wouldn’t believe that.
I will never go bungee jumping again – I’m not even sure it exists anymore – but with two kids at this point in time, I don’t see myself doing it and I don’t want to tell my kids that I’ve done it either because I wouldn’t want them to do it.
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