2019 Annual Conference Wrap-Up

They say everything is bigger in Texas. Well, it doesn’t get much bigger than this year’s 23rd Annual NAF Association Non-Prime Auto Financing Conference in Plano, TX. There were over 400 attendees at the conference, which was one of the association’s largest attendance in its history.

As always, it was great to catch up with old friends at the conference and to meet some new folks who I haven’t met yet in person. If you missed the conference, or couldn’t attend the compliance track presentations, don’t fuss. I’ve prepared a summary with some of the exciting regulatory and compliance topics that were discussed.

Like last year’s agenda, the conference provided a two-track menu of session offerings with a general track and a compliance track. Some of the highlights of the conference included:

• The One-Minute Pitch – Meet Our Vendors: We heard a 60-second pitch or “elevator speech” from our vendors/exhibitors about the services they offer the industry;
• The role of associations that represent non-prime financing: Representatives of the NADA, NIADA, AFSA and ARA shared the stage with Jack Tracey, executive director, NAF, to show how all five associations are working on important issues affecting non-prime financing.
• This year’s conference was laden with presentations offering informative key economic and automotive market trends, the most recent outlook and trends for auto ABS issuance, and collateral performance and ABS ratings. Especially good sessions were presented by Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at Cox Automotive and Amy Martin, senior director, Structured Finance, S&P Global Ratings.

An overview of the NAF/AFSA annual non-prime auto financing survey was also presented during the conference. Survey content from contributing sub-prime auto financing companies with billions in principal balances has continued to increase and data contributions have further improved the value of the joint report. The report is available to NAF and AFSA’s business partner members for $250 and to others for $500. The report can be purchased through the association’s website, www.nafassociation.com.

There was an extensive track devoted to compliance, where at times more people were in attendance than during the general session. The NAF plans to repeat this compliance track again at next year’s conference due to the positive reception it received. Here are some highlights from the compliance track that had an overflow audience:

• Fair Lending & Fair Servicing – Anthony Gibbs and Edward Kramer took us all for a deep dive into fair lending and the newly coined “fair servicing” term within the auto industry. They also discussed fair servicing, particularly auto “loan” servicing, billing statements and repossessions.
• David Keene, Kelly Blankenship and Clint Rutherford discussed “Three Dimensional Compliance” and how the world of compliance got so dang complicated and what can be done about it. They discussed how the current regulatory climate makes compliance three dimensional and expands a compliance professional’s responsibilities far beyond the traditional job of in-house compliance.
• State Regulators Insights – A panel of state regulators from the Indiana DFI, Texas OCCC and counselors Mark Edelman, Terry O’Loughlin and your author, fielded many questions on various hot topic compliance and regulatory issues, ranging from questions like “What would you like regulators to know more about or understand better from your point of view?” to “What issues have come up in recent exams or enforcement actions and complaints related to motor vehicle finance?”. Also, discussion regarding the CFPB’s new debt collections rule took place.
• Credit Reporting Highlights and Discussion – A panel of Richard Hudson, Jeff Van Schoyck and Jared Weeks discussed the CDIA Metro 2 Task Force focusing on auto vertical specific reporting, the Credit Reporting Resource Guide and frequently asked questions on repossession and voluntary surrender reporting.
• Rebecca Saelao and Michael Semanie also discussed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and how to make compliant calls to delinquent customers, statutory damages for non-compliance and a review of recent court developments of the TCPA.

Following on the success it had last year, the NAF repeated its “Fraud Friday” track. The entire program on Friday was devoted to fraud, a particularly important issue for non-prime finance companies. The speakers were able to provide insightful sessions on synthetic fraud, dealer fraud and how to use technology in validations to reduce fraud.  The NAF had as many people in attendance for the opening session of “Fraud Friday” as it had for the opening keynote address.

Finally, following the conference, we had another meeting of the NAF’s Quarterly Compliance Roundtable where representatives from auto finance companies, banks, buy-here, pay-here dealers and service providers to the automotive finance industry attended and shared best compliance practices. If you or your company isn’t a member of the roundtable, why not visit one of the roundtable groups in Dallas, Atlanta or southern California and see how joining the roundtable could greatly benefit you as well as your institution?

Where else could you go but the NAF Annual Conference to find top compliance and legal minds and leaders in their field on these hot button topics of interest in the non-prime auto financing industry? I hope you could attend some or all of these sessions, however, if you missed them, you can still review the presentations from the conference on the association website.

The NAF Legal Committee will continue to keep you informed about legal and regulatory changes of interest to the subprime auto finance industry.

Eric Johnson
Eric L. Johnson is a partner in the Oklahoma City, OK office of Hudson Cook, LLP. Eric can be reached at (405) 602-3812 or [email protected] This article is provided for informational purposes and is not intended nor should it be taken as legal advice. ©Copyright 2018 Eric L. Johnson. All rights reserved. Single print publication rights National Automotive Finance Association.