The auto ﬁnance C-suite keeps expanding from the familiar list of CEO, COO, and CFO.
As a result of technical innovation, competition, and outside threats, companies revisit job descriptions and create new titles to match those responsibilities, in the C-suite and in other ranks of upper management, experts say.
“It’s safe to say that the past few years have created additional C-level positions, some of that is driven by outside factors,” Paul Kramarz, director of the PricewaterhouseCoopers vehicle lending and leasing practice, told Auto Finance News. “Compliance and the worsening regulatory environment are great examples.” Before the formation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Kramarz said, titles like chief compliance ofﬁcer did not exist in the industry. “The companies now want to demonstrate that they are doing something about compliance, so they are elevating those compliance positions to the C-level.”
New security threats in the industry have also created the need for a dedicated chief.
“Companies now have, or should have, if they don’t, a chief security ofﬁcer that handles new cyber threats, like data breaches,” Kramarz said. Innovation-driven titles, such as chief strategy ofﬁcer or chief performance ofﬁcer, have cropped up recently. “There is more focus on innovation, sure, but [in some cases] those responsibilities have always existed,” Kramarz said. “People just like the elevated title more, and it motivates them.”
Revisiting job titles was part of a recent reconﬁguration at Pelican Auto Finance.
Joel Kennedy, now the company’s chief compliance and chief performance ofﬁcer, told AFN that he transitioned from his title as chief operating ofﬁcer only a few months ago, in order to create a compliance strategy roadmap for Pelican. “We are at a point, where we have roughly a $100 million portfolio, and once you get to this scale, you are looking to shift your focus to sustainability factors,” he said. Even though the company has not had any run-ins with the CFPB to date, compliance is a major factor, and the company wants to be prepared for closer scrutiny. “There is not always a ﬁnancial immediacy, with the exception if you have been ﬁned already and have to do it,” he said. “But if the CFPB comes knocking, they want to see an end-to-end established compliance process, and that’s what my new title allows me to do.”
At GM Financial, customer service and digital marketing have been the drivers of corporate title changes.
“Historically, GMF didn’t make a substantial investment in the digital marketing space,” Bob Beatty, executive vice president of customer experience, told AFN. Beatty served as an executive vice president of different specialty areas at GMF since 2012, and recently transitioned into his new title. “After our pivot towards assuming the role as GM’s captive partner, we recognized that we need more expertise and more proactive steps.” The captive brought in Will Stacy as a senior vice president, digital and technology services, marketing and communications, over a year ago, tasked to take the proactive steps. “Will has done a great job, we’ll see a lot of the results in 2016,” Beatty said. Currently, Beatty oversees a newly-formed customer experience department which is tasked with shaping customer service as a differentiating area, he said.
A direct mail program for GM dealers and online credit applications for customers are part of the plan, Stacy told AFN. “As far as the customer experience, we were more towards the least common denominator than other auto ﬁnance companies, but not necessarily looking at it [customer service] as competitive advantage,” Stacy said. “I can’t speak to speciﬁc job titles, but given the competition, and ongoing innovation in this industry, every company needs to put increased emphasis on customer experience, and designate appropriate people to do so,” Stacy added.