A couple of key stats offer a glimpse of where credit unions may need to continue to look when targeting car shoppers.
For one, mobile use among teenagers was up 200% in 2013 and that percentage is growing at a faster rate than any other age group, said Aaron Jahnke, direct sales specialist for CUNA Mutual Group’s Loan Generation Marketing Team. By 2016, it is projected that there will be 96 million mobile users, up from 33 million in 2012.
Jahnke shared those figures during a Jan. 21 webinar on auto loan recapture and new opportunities with universal auto and next car purchases.
“More than likely, you have members that have gone entirely mobile. Are you ready to meet their needs,” Jahnke asked of the more than 130 attendees that tuned into the online session.
In 2013, overall auto loan growth was at its highest rate in more than four years, with credit unions accounting for 15% of that increase, Jahnke noted. Vehicle loans represented 31% of all credit union loans last year, which put it close to the 33% level prior to the Great Recession.
With banks and other lenders coming back into the auto lending space with a vengeance, credit unions might consider strategies that are designed to bring back loans from competitors, Jahnke said. For instance, have a pre-screening process to identify members who received financing elsewhere to let them know they have been pre-qualified for refinancing at the credit union.
Another way to recapture auto loans is to hone in on those who are most likely to buy a new or their next car in the near future, Jahnke suggested. These consumers typically have loans that are approaching their payoff date.
“Of course, members will continue to finance at the dealership. Whether you have an indirect program or not, you might continue to be marginalized,” Jahnke said. “You may not be able to compete with 0%. The good news is you may not have to.”
Members with less than perfect credit can still receive a much better deal at credit unions, he explained. Even those that are able to secure low rates, often find the loans are packaged with expensive dealer add-ons, Jahnke said.
According to Equifax’s National Consumer Credit Trends Report the automobile lending sector continues to thrive. From January to October 2013, the total number of new auto loans originated was 20.2 million, totaling $405.2 billion and representing the highest origination total for that time in eight years.
“It’s clear as we analyze the auto finance segment that auto lenders are doing a great job in accessing risk, managing their portfolios, and making credit available to customers who need transportation to get to work or simply want to enjoy some of the great new models that manufacturers are producing,” said Lou Loquasto, Equifax Auto Finance vertical leader.
The industry’s ever-growing sophistication in using credit and non-credit data to aid decision-making is one of the key reasons for the health of this segment, Loquasto said.
“The biggest challenge that Equifax is hearing in the market today is shrinking yields, as more lenders look to auto finance as a source of quality receivables.”
Loans funded by banks, savings and loans and credit unions are currently at $417.2 billion, according to Equifax. Similarly, the total outstanding balance for loans funded by auto finance companies is $442.5 billion.
Jahnke said another issue with recapturing auto loans from competitors stems from compliance concerns. Aligning with a firm that won’t stack on additional compliance matters is one strategy to consider.
“Given that there are more than 80,000 pages of regulations that have emerged over the past decade, compliance costs continue to eat at the bottom line,” he noted.
In their pre-screening letters, credit unions might also want to think about any cross-sell opportunities and perhaps offer payment protection services to help increase noninterest income. A return on investment analysis can help track efforts during a certain period.
“What are your goals for 2014 – improve your loan growth, increase the number of products per member or lower your expenses,” Jahnke asked. “There’s a quote from Wayne Gretzky – ‘you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.’”