Flexibility is Key with Indirect Lending
By Vicky Kinsey, Assistant Vice President of Marketing, CU Alliance
For almost 14 years now, Fortera Credit Union in Clarksville, Tennessee has operated a very successful indirect program using the services provided by Credit Union Acceptance Company, LLC (CUAC). In early 2006, Fortera contracted with CUAC to provide its Full-Service Indirect Program which included dealer representation, underwriting, loan processing, funding and all back-off related tasks such as charge-back processing, title services, etc. Over the course of the next 13 years, with a lot of hard work by both parties, the program grew tremendously.
In the second quarter of this year, Tim Wheeler, Fortera’s Director of Consumer Lending, decided that the credit union wanted to bring the indirect program in house. There were a number of reasons for the change; however, the primary drivers were that Tim felt they had the right staff to run the indirect program internally and could leverage the experience of those existing staff members to bring down some of the costs. “We had a great relationship with CUAC for many years and I feel like both parties learned a lot from each other. For Fortera, we believed that to meet our lending goals and increase ROA as part of our strategic objectives, the time was right to bring the indirect program in house,” added Wheeler. “We have a seasoned staff of lenders who have been working within our indirect program for years. We knew they would be able to service our dealers while maintaining the underwriting standards required to sustain a profitable auto loan portfolio.”
When deciding to bring the indirect program in house, there were a few key items Tim and his team focused on when choosing the right vendor. “Before beginning this endeavor, we had to make sure that we chose a vendor that could provide us a truly customizable product while offering the flexibility of the ancillary services we needed. This included some compliance related issues as well as providing after-hours underwriting support. We also wanted to make sure that the software solution was quick, efficient, easy to use and would keep up with the technological advancements needed now and in the future by our dealers,” remarked Wheeler. “Ultimately, we decided to remain with CUAC and switch to their Application Provider Service platform. We feel like we were able to check all the boxes while maintaining a relationship with a supportive vendor we’ve had for a very long time.”
Kurt Howard, CUAC’s Executive Vice President, was quite enthused to retain Fortera as a client. “We have worked with Tim and the folks at Fortera for so long. I could not imagine losing them as a client. I knew that we needed to do whatever was necessary to provide the credit union with a solution that met all their needs now…and in the future,” noted Howard. “The CUAC team worked with the credit union staff for many years to help them build their indirect program. Although our role has now changed, we are happy to still be a part of it and will work hard to help Fortera take their program to an even higher level. I am appreciative of Tim and the entire executive team’s decision to remain with CUAC.”