Until a few days ago, our presence at Auto Finance Summit may have come as a surprise to most. With the release of our new Auto Loans product, however, we decided that we’d make the trip down to Las Vegas to listen, learn, and engage.
Not only did we walk away with many amazing new connections within auto finance (we hope you enjoy the socks), we also soaked in incredible insights from leading industry thinkers. Here are the two primary takeaways we’ll be incorporating into our approach as we continually enhance our Auto Loans product.
Missed our Auto Loans product announcement?
Takeaway one: Despite worrying economic data, lending leaders are bullish
In the summit’s opening fireside chat between JJ Hornblass of Auto Finance News and Mark O’Donovan of Chase Auto, the discussion turned to the “world is coming to an end” sentiment that pervades modern discourse. The ubiquity of this broad pessimism puts us at risk of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy — or, as O’Donovan put it, “we’ve been trying to talk ourselves into another recession.”
At Blend, we like to operate with a sense of optimism, and we were happy to hear that the lending leadership on hand adopts the same approach. A resounding bullish sentiment was apparent among conference presenters. Common worrying talking points, such as interest rate cuts, were reframed as positives.
In fact, the factor most commonly cited as a potential impediment to success in 2020 was market competition (28% of attendees) — not market factors.
Differentiation is fundamental when working with what is essentially a commodity. According to Ian Anderson of Westlake Holdings, Rich Porrello of Huntington National Bank, and Charles Bradley of Consumer Portfolio Services, there are three key mechanisms that help carve out space for your organization within the market:
- Facilitate communication between the various functions of your lending business
- Minimize friction internally and externally
- Make things quicker, better, and faster
As a partner to auto lenders, we are glad to hear that the steps to success they’ve identified are so well aligned with our core strengths as a Digital Lending Platform provider.
We’ve been trying to talk ourselves into another recession.Mark O'DonovanCEO, Chase Auto
Takeaway two: Technology and customer experience go hand in hand
At Blend, we pride ourselves on our ability to facilitate standout customer experiences, so it was a no-brainer for us to attend the Customer Experience track at Auto Finance Summit to get a better understanding of lenders’ needs. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the majority of these sessions focused on technology’s role in delivering on the customer-focus promise. Daniel Chu of Ganas Holdings couldn’t have been any clearer: “Technology and customer experience go hand in hand.”
Two fundamental features of a digitally enabled customer journey emerged during the summit.
First, in his session, Chu suggested adopting a platform that facilitates digital engagement while providing an end-to-end experience. Online interactions are fundamental, but they are only one piece of a broader digital need.
Second, Ryan Brooks of WSECU emphasized the need to manage transitions between the digital and the physical. Despite a clear appetite for technology-enabled lending facets, data suggest that consumers still crave the familiarity and safety of in-person interactions.
Unfortunately, before lenders can successfully execute a digital strategy, there remains what Craig Hewitt of CarFinance called a “technology and execution gap.”
To address this gap, Roger Saran of Rifco National Auto Finance discussed how he finds success in creating meaningful customer experiences. According to him, it’s pretty simple: “How do we connect our consumers to us? We leverage fintech to do that.”
We’ve partnered with 170+ lenders to take advantage of our Mortgage product, and we’re very excited to continue this approach as we connect with auto lenders.
How do we connect our consumers to us? We leverage fintech to do that.Roger SaranVP and Chief Credit Officer, Rifco National Auto Finance
The way forward for Blend’s Auto Loans
With our first auto industry event now under our belt, we are excited to continue dedicating our energy to creating the best auto lending product we can. We look forward to seeing many of you at future events as we work together to make auto loans simple, fast, and secure.