Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Buyer spotlight: SCUSA’s James Harris

James HarrisAt Santander Consumer USA, we believe in teamwork. Our credit buyers are a vital part of the team working to get your deals approved and funded quickly.  The combination of our area sales managers and credit buyers make for a financing offense that few other banks can compete with.

Meet one of our top players in the buying game, James Harris.

Hometown: Angleton, TX

Tenure at Santander: 8 years

Siblings: Two sisters, Vera and Diane; one brother, Joel

Favorite food: Oxtail with cabbage. Growing up in the U.S. Virgin Islands of St. Thomas, my grandmother made the best Caribbean-style oxtail-with-cabbage cuisine for Sunday dinners. Awesome!

Favorite movie: The Incredible Hulk. Who doesn’t like power? The fact that he is green is a small setback.

Music on his playlist: I’m pretty eclectic when it comes to music. So you’d find Bob Marley, UGK, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Usher on my playlist.

Bucket list vacation: Australia. I would love to venture across the Pacific to visit the The Great Barrier Reef.  I would also like to see the beautiful beaches and lush jungles of the region.

Favorite pastime: Computer gaming. Gaming provides the latest in entertainment and fun. The best part of being a gamer is the camaraderie and connectedness. Just like with credit buying, the main thing that drives me is teamwork online; if you have a good team you can achieve great accomplishments.

Work philosophy: Everyday, seize opportunity and strive for excellence. If you do that, you will be successful.

Growth Goals Give Dealers More Opportunity and Channels to Sell More Vehicles in 2011.

Matt Fitzgerald

Now that the markets have opened back up and the recession seems to be easing, acquisition activity has already slowed as lenders focus on growing originations. We are no different. After a period of rapid growth through acquisition, our resources are now fully integrated and we will focus on organically growing our business in 2011. Growth not only means adding to the dealer base and boosting originations, but increasing our ability to serve the deeper and more complex needs of today’s dealers. We have a full product suite to offer (Drive, Santander Auto Finance, RoadLoans and S-Guard) and we will leverage all these solutions to help dealers sell more cars.

We are particularly optimistic about our business and how that will benefit dealers this year. We have spent the last 18 months fine tuning the RoadLoans lead program and Preferred Dealer Network. Our lead quality has improved, and we saw a 200 percent increase in this business in 2010. A lot of dealers are showing interest in this program, and our sales and Web teams are excited to help connect them with customers. What are we doing to improve our service to you?

We still think that we can improve and streamline the funding process. One significant benefit from our acquisitions is the data we have acquired about our loan portfolios and our customers. We now have the ability to develop behavior scores based on applications, and then apply custom or “dynamic” stipulations. In other words, we will have the ability to only request the stips we truly need. We believe this will help dealers and, ultimately, speed up the funding process. We also want to continue to explore opportunities with independent dealers. After three years of recession, the independent dealers who are still in business are – for the most part – the strongest and most stable around. We will offer our finance program for the independent dealer that makes sense for both the dealer and for Santander. As we continue to refine and improve our service, we encourage your active participation. Please contact your sales representative to discuss your specific needs and expectations. We look forward to a mutually successful 2011.

Matt Fitzgerald
Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing
Santander Consumer USA

Leadership: Ready for Growth

While 2009 was marked by significantly fewer loan originations, Santander Consumer USA made the most of this “slow period.” We spent the year growing and strengthening other areas of our business. In the remarketing area, we focused on fine-tuning vehicle certifications, using data-driven analytics to send high-demand vehicles to target markets, streamlining titling/releases and using mulitiple resources to get the most accurate vehicle valuations possible.

As a company, we also made some significant acquisitions. We established ourselves as a top third-party servicer of loan portfolios with the purchase of the outstanding portfolio of Sovereign Bank and the portfolio & servicing operations from Triad Financial Corporation. We also signed an agreement with HSBC for a similar deal, which is expected to close in early 2010. This type of fast growth is not unusual for us. If you have been an auction customer of ours for a while, you probably recall that we started as FirstCity Funding in 1997, became Drive Financial Services under Bank of Scotland in 2000, and then in 2006 joined the Santander family as Santander Consumer USA.

Santander Consumer USA is as strong as it’s ever been. Today, we are much more than just a “small sub-prime lender.” By early this year, our $10 billion portfolio will consist of 40% prime, 30% near-prime and 30% sub-prime vehicles. We will have the ability to leverage the best ideas of SC USA plus the auto resources acquired from our aquisition purchases to create top-notch programs in sales, servicing and remarketing. On the originations side, we own and operate three strong brands: Drive®, RoadLoans® and Santander Auto Finance.

While becoming a larger organization brings more complexity to everyday operations, it also brings something else that can be incredibly beneficial — leverage. For example, in the remarketing area, more vehicles in your pool gives you greater diversity in your auction offerings. A larger variety of cars attracts buyers. And when there are more buyers, our remarketing program grows overall, which translates into new program offerings, potential incentives and helps us attract greater leadership and talent internally. All of us at Santander Consumer USA, are poised for the next chapter in our evolution as a company. We are confident that this growth will result in some exciting advancements in the remarketing area in the next five years. We are eager to continue to partner with you along the way, and remain committed to providing you with outstanding personal service — no matter how big we become.

Brad Martin
Senior Vice President of Servicing,
Santander Consumer USA Inc .

Leadership: Ready for Growth

As the largest remarketer of vehicles in the U.S., Santander Consumer USA (“SC USA”) pays close attention to trends related to car sales, repossessions and vehicle valuations. Lately we have analyzed datathat – while not surprising – has implications for anyone involved in the remarketing side of the auto business.

First, car sales and repossessions continue to trend downward. After an uptick in the first two quarters of 2009 in conjunction with Cash for Clunkers, the third and fourth quarters saw the sharpest falloff in two years. While this isn’t news to anyone, it is interesting to note that the gap between the number of car sales and the number of repos continues to widen. Repossessions have slowed at an even faster pace than car sales, which means that given the one- to two-year lag we see between sales/repo numbers and what happens at auction, it’s a safe guess that auction volumes will stay depressed for another year.

But there is other data that offers more positive news. When we look at car sales by credit quality we see that sales from prime borrowers peaked at its highest level since 2007 in the middle of Q3 ‘09. During the same time-frame, sales from sub-prime borrowers reached its lowest level – a clear response to the universal tightening of credit. But then there is a sharp turnaround in both of those credit segments starting with the back half of the third quarter and continuing through the end of last year. Prime sales fell nearly two percent while subprime sales rose approximately three percent. This suggests to us at SC USA that the market is opening back up, with credit being slightly easier to come by.

We believe 2010 will be a “ride it out” year for the auction business as we all patiently wait for auto sales to improve. Things look promising. As we go to press General Motors has just announced a 21 percent increase in March 2010 sales over February, and Hyundai reports a 15 percent increase for the same period. At least one auto securitization has happened this year. As a trend-watcher, things appear to be looking up. We’ll take it. With any luck, 2011 may give us a positive “perfect storm” for auto auction sales.

Jason Grubb
Chief Operating Officer,
Santander Consumer U S A I nc .

Leadership: Send us All Your Prime Declines

Pundits say there is never a good time to get married, buy a house or have a baby. I guess you could also argue that there is no perfect time to launch an auto finance program either – especially when the economy is still in recovery and auto sales are just starting to warm back up. But launching a new program is just what Santander Consumer USA did early this year when we opened up Santander Auto Finance™ – our new near-prime/lending program – to dealers nationwide.

The launch came on the heels of several months of testing and refining the program in different markets. Listed on DealerTrack and RouteOne as “Santander Auto,” the program offers you a new choice when you need non-prime financing. It features solid B-paper structures for your 575-680 FICO customers, with all the traditional elements you expect to see in non-prime lending: competitive rates, generous advances, participation and flats, room for back-end products on every deal, low down payment requirements, a standard 72-month term and 24-48 hour funding. To reap the full benefits of this program, our dealer partners need to send all their prime declines to Santander Auto. Dealers that did this during the test period experienced better calls or unique approvals 25 percent of the time. As one dealer said, “The program is another resource for me. I get good LTVs from a trustworthy company and sell cars I otherwise wouldn’t. I’ve gotten some really terrific approvals.” On top of that, there’s no look-to-book ratio with Santander Auto Finance, so it’s just a matter of remembering to send applications to Santander Auto in this space.

If you have tried the program a few times you probably got a middle-of-the-road payment call. If you will send us more applications (which you can do risk-free), you will see better payment calls and approvals on deals that other lenders will decline. When you include Santander Auto Finance with our other program offerings – Drive® in the sub-prime space and RoadLoans® in the direct lending/ lead-generation space – you have a full suite of special finance tools to help you sell more cars to more customers.

I encourage you to try Santander Auto Finance if you haven’t already. If you are currently signed up as a Drive dealer you can start sending applications right away. If you want to enroll in Santander Auto or any of our programs, visit and request a sales rep visit. We’ll send a knowledgeable sales manager your way who can help you get up and running quickly. I also want to say a special thank you to all the dealers who helped us test the Santander Auto program in its early stages. Your feedback has helped us, and your dealer colleagues, immensely.

Matt Fitzgerald
Senior VP of Marketing and Sales
Santander Consumer USA Inc .