Examining the Impact of Supply Chain Disruption, Inflation, and Rising Interest Rates Picture the economy as a large lake, with all the economic players and stakeholders being boats on the water. In 2020, Covid-19 was the reckless jerk in the speedboat who just ripped across the water without regard to anything or anyone else. Anyone who’s been a recipient of the aftermath of reckless speedboat guy knows there will be many waves that follow in his wake. Depending on your distance and the size of your own boat, these waves may threaten to swamp your craft or they may just be mild ripples in the normally calm water (hey, it’s my analogy). In addition, the direction your boat is situated, or your vector should you be underway, will also change the way your boat experiences the wake. All that is to say that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to how you will be affected by the waves. In our economy, just like on the water, major disruptions are not over right after the trouble has passed by. In our current “economic lake,” there are three distinct waves that have been created by the “speedboat” of our global pandemic. Wave One – Supply Chain Disruption With the onset of Covid-19 and the shutting down of manufacturing and limiting of on-site work to “essential” personnel, the auto market changed quickly. We went from a market where car manufacturers and dealers were begging the public to buy their inventory through heavily discounted prices to a situation where the prolonged chip shortage and lack of manufacturing created empty lots and not enough vehicles to go around. As any good student of economics can tell you, the lack of supply and the excess of demand leads to higher prices. Credit unions outperformed other financial institutions in this market, and while new car loans were a bit more scarce, the higher prices of used cars more than made up for the difference. But another ripple caused by Wave One is what car manufacturers were doing with the limited supply of chips they did have. They focused production on their high-end, higher-margin vehicles, which made them a lot of money. Unfortunately, as a result it created a market gap where literally (literally) millions of low-cost vehicles that would have otherwise been manufactured simply don’t exist today. The impact of this missing category has just now begun to be felt in the used car market. Low-cost vehicles that we would now expect to see being traded in for new cars are just not widely available in the used car market. Those that do exist move at a high speed, staying on the market in some cases only hours. What’s a used car buyer to do? They must wait for those nicer, high-end cars to hit the market at a price they can afford, which may mean another year or two before buying. In addition, the buyer who purchased that high-end car during the pandemic is likely to hang on to it a year or two longer to get more value from the price they paid. Manufacturers are slowly bringing back production of low-cost vehicles, but it will be years before this wave and the following ripples work their way through the economic landscape (waterscape?). Wave Two – Inflation As stimulus money inflated bank accounts and drove down consumer debt, and as businesses closed or limited hours, people had money to buy goods and services but limited places to spend it. More money chasing goods and services created a perfect environment for inflation to start to spiral. Groceries, energy, and cars all took significant jumps — and housing prices, especially, escalated steeply. During the height of the run-up, in many places, when selling a house it was not uncommon to get multiple cash offers for significantly more than list price in a matter of days. Renters also felt (and still feel) the bite of inflation as their leases renew at significantly higher rates. As inflation continues to be an issue, many households have moved from having to decide how to spend their extra dollars to instead having to decide which bills will get those dollars. As a result, lenders are back in the full swing of collections as delinquencies rise. Unfortunately for lenders, an increasing delinquency rate can move quickly into increased charge-offs. The inflation wave is just now being felt in the lender space and the expectation is that 2023-2024 will be challenging to the bottom lines of many lenders. Staffing shortages combined with salary inflation, combined with more demand for repossession, skip tracing, and remarketing services than market supply currently provides, leads to anecdotal stories of lenders spending extra money to have their vehicles bumped in priority so they won’t be left out. It doesn’t take long for all of these forces to combine to create a new higher price point for everyone — and so inflation continues. Wave Three – Interest Rates In the bid to combat inflation, the Federal Reserve has continued to raise interest rates. Rates climbed steeply from 3.25% to (at the time of this writing) 8.00% in the space of less than a year. While the rate of increase has started to taper off, the impact is undeniably being felt in many areas. In the housing market, lending has cooled significantly as: Refinance activity has virtually dried up. Inflated home prices plus significantly higher mortgage rates have priced many buyers out of the market altogether. Similarly, in the auto market: Buyers who would normally trade in their vehicles for a new one are looking at either a huge increase in the monthly payment amount or a one- to two-year extended term on the note. Many of those buyers are deciding to hang on the vehicle they have. For those borrowers who do take the plunge, even small changes in their economic reality could lead to delinquencies, defaults and repossessions — making the risk much higher for their lenders. Historically, the labor market has to tighten significantly in order to rein in inflation. That hasn’t happened yet. The Fed is being cautious in an attempt to not make that a reality, but it remains to be seen. The impact of this wave has shifted the water line, but stay tuned for more turbulence. Naturally, all boats aren’t the same size, the same design, or heading in the same direction. Each lender has to examine their own unique boat to determine the best way to position it to ride out the waves and hopefully return to calmer waters — at least until the next jerk in a speedboat comes along to stir things up. For a personalized consultation regarding ways we can help your financial institution ride out this storm with reduced risk, reduced charge-offs, and greater peace of mind, contact our CPI experts.
Rising Auto Delinquencies, Higher Charge-Off Risk, and What You Can Do to Protect Your Loan Portfolio
Unique Partners & Customized Solutions Require Specialization Learning Is an Ongoing Experience In many industries, learning has a core skill set that is needed for a certain position. Take the fast food industry, for example — teaching an employee to cook and build a consistent burger each time is a skill that can be consistently trained across a multi-store operation. Of course, there will always be new processes and changes that will need to be learned as well, but that core learning is pretty much consistent across the board. However, at State National each of our hundreds of clients has a unique business and requires a unique solution customized to meet their specific situation. This creates the need for information to be readily available and for learning to become an ongoing daily experience. We instill this during our employee onboarding process by teaching each new hire not only about the core learning needed to understand a complex product like portfolio protection, but also about the many variations and customizations that can occur. Constant Improvement at Every Level Employees, both while in training and throughout their time at State National, are also encouraged to ask questions about and discuss new processes and features with each other to facilitate the spread of that new information across the organization. As their knowledge grows, so does their ability to share more and do more both internally and externally with our clients. This community spread of knowledge and skills across the organization results in a strong learning culture and in retention of a high-quality, well-informed workforce. Each employee plays their own part in our one-of-a-kind dedicated service model, offering the best, most personalized service in our industry. The comprehensive, specialized training plus long-term constant growth of our associates is one of State National's biggest market strengths and one of the big reasons so many organizations choose to partner with State National. State National Site Visit: Be Our Guest
Despite Inflation, You Can Still Maintain a Competitive Advantage and Protect Your Auto Loan Portfolio Spotlight Soundbite: The Value of Customized Portfolio Protection in the Subprime Auto Loan Market Borrowers Are Facing Financial Stress The government’s stimulus checks have long run out, as have the grace periods many financial institutions implemented during the pandemic. Interest rates have soared and prices have inflated. Individuals have returned to work and are again bearing the costs of gas, transportation, and childcare. While buy now and pay later programs may offer temporary relief, borrowers will ultimately not be able to put off making tough decisions about where to spend and save. Unfortunately, a growing number of auto loan borrowers, and especially subprime borrowers, are choosing to drop or reduce their auto insurance coverage as a result of having to decide which bills to pay with their increasingly stretched paychecks. And these uninsured or underinsured borrowers pose a threat to your institution’s loan portfolio and profitability. The news isn’t all grim, however — State National can help protect your financial institution from the risks posed by this group. How to Minimize Charge-offs Caused by Uninsured Borrowers Do you currently use an insurance tracking system to keep track of your borrowers’ coverage status in an attempt to prevent charge-offs? It’s a good start — tracking is a critical part of monitoring your institution’s risk exposure. However, having your staff track insurance in-house is a time-consuming and inefficient solution. More concerning, even if you employ an outside vendor to track coverage for you, studies show that tracking alone is not enough to encourage borrowers to keep their insurance in force. Without a consequence for remaining uninsured or underinsured, it’s been shown time and time again that a significant portion of borrowers, particularly in the non-prime and subprime space, simply will not heed warnings to bring their loans into compliance no matter how many letters or phone calls they get reminding them to do so. Without a mechanism that will actually change borrower behavior, tracking alone still leaves too much risk in your portfolio. A Persistent Problem — With an InsurTech Solution The good news is, you can more thoroughly protect your portfolio while also saving labor costs and freeing up your staff to perform other tasks to grow your business. And you can do it all easily, seamlessly, and with total peace of mind when it comes to compliance. Protecting collateral from loss is most definitely not the same as it was “in the old days” — or even just a few years ago. Advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other leading-edge technology solutions have changed the game when it comes to mitigating the risk from uninsured borrowers. From software bots that can log in to insurer websites and update thousands of insurance statuses in seconds to nearly effortless multichannel borrower submission options including QR codes, email, text, web, and more, collateral protection problems of the past are simply not an issue today, especially with State National as your provider. As I like to say, “This isn’t your grandpa's CPI!” Save Time, Money, and Aggravation — What’s Not to Like? State National’s solutions provide tracking AND protect your portfolio. We also save your financial institution time with seamless implementation and multi-option borrower insurance submission solutions. Even better, there’s InsurTrak – our custom-designed proprietary technology platform where you can view all program details in real-time with just a few clicks. Additionally, you can personalize your coverage around exactly what works best for your business. Whether you need a full-featured, comprehensive program, one that keeps costs at a minimum for borrowers, or something in between, State National can customize a program that best fits your needs. A Simple Solution for Reduced Risk and Increased Profitability We have heard from some financial institutions that they “have no charge-offs” because they planned and allotted for a certain amount of loss. But money lost is still money lost even if you budgeted for it! What if you could save your company hundreds of thousands of dollars this year? Well, you can! Let me show you how you can leverage State National’s advanced technology and more than 50 years of experience mitigating loss from uninsured borrowers to proactively protect your business against today’s unpredictable economy and the wave of charge-offs your financial institution may be facing soon. It’s not too late to protect your portfolio from what’s coming our way.
Inflation has been squeezing businesses and consumers alike. Perhaps the easiest industry in which to spot the consequences of financial stress is the automotive industry. How can you maintain a competitive advantage while also protecting your portfolio in this market? Read on to find out. Spotlight Soundbite: Maintaining Your Competitive Edge During Auto Industry Inflation Consumers Are Facing Post-Pandemic Financial Stress The government’s stimulus checks have long run out, as have the grace periods many financial institutions implemented during the pandemic. Many individuals have returned to work and are again bearing the costs of gas, transportation, childcare, and other employment-related expenses. With many Americans increasingly financially strapped, what does this mean for lenders? Unfortunately, prices are soaring and may continue to rise. We know that those directly impacted by inflation (which is all lower- to middle-class Americans) alter their consumption, investment choices, and spending habits as their purchasing power decreases. Something has to give as many consumers struggle to make ends meet. Unfortunately, many may choose to scale back on or even cancel their auto insurance as a result. In addition, consumer debt-to-income ratio is expected to increase. As borrowers continue to take out large auto loans, particularly on used cars, they will be stuck with these loans even if the value of the item purchased decreases long-term — potentially putting borrowers upside down on their loans, with a vehicle worth considerably less than what they still owe in the future. Revenue Lost in Charge-offs What does this mean for financial institutions? Unfortunately, this financial stress being felt by consumers also increases risk in a lender’s loan portfolio. As financial institutions are providing loans for vehicles with a hyper-inflated value, it’s likely they will see an increase in bad debt as those loans start to default to historic norms and possibly higher. Without proper risk mitigation measures in place, if the collateral sustains damage or loss when a borrower is uninsured or underinsured, the financial institution making the loan can also find itself “upside down,” so to speak, with the claims amount received insufficient to cover its exposure. Not all is lost, however — financial institutions with a high-quality portfolio protection insurance program will experience relief from a significant amount of this bad debt. Not only will this critical protection keep your borrowers covered, it will also safeguard your balance sheet. Insurance Tracking Also Helps Lenders Manage Risk In addition to the protection provided by the insurance coverage, lenders can also use the detailed borrower insurance tracking in the program to assess and mitigate risk. High-quality, real-time tracking allows lenders to leverage knowledge of a borrower’s lack of coverage as an indicator of when a loan may be at a higher risk of default. This early warning sign provides an opportunity to initiate preventive steps to work with those borrowers to avoid collections, as well as take proactive measures to step up early collections efforts. How a Program with State National Tackles Inflationary Hardships We can help as you are undergoing a double squeeze from tighter net interest margins. In addition to decreasing your charge-offs, here are a few of the relevant ways our program supports you no matter the storm: Our partners have full transparency and access to immediate real-time data with InsurTrak, the industry’s only system built from scratch specifically for CPI. It’s your single sign-on source of truth for insurance tracking, claims, and reporting, resulting in maximum ease, speed, and transparency. With your loan portfolio data at your fingertips, accessible instantly all in one place, it's easy and quick to identify trends and potentially at-risk borrowers. Our internal infrastructure is supported by our parent company Markel, a $50 billion Fortune 500 company, which has been proudly rated “A” (Excellent) by AM Best for many decades and is regarded as an industry leader. Our combined tenure, strength, and expertise translate to unmatched peace of mind and security for our partners. Our Claims Advisory Recovery Services (CARS) boosts your bottom line by mitigating your auto portfolio losses, reducing your internal expenses, and giving you more time to spend servicing your borrowers. With CARS, we manage repossessed collateral and remarketing profitability at auctions for you while also maximizing settlements from outside insurance claims and recovering suspected skips. All of this combined with State National’s culture of continuous improvement for the past half century, unwavering commitment to investment in technology, and unsurpassed service delivery ensures we can best serve our partners in both good times and challenging times, and we can help your business weather any economic storm. Practical Solutions for Mitigating Portfolio Risks State National's Client Advisory Council (CAC) recently discussed some practical steps their credit unions are taking for creating alternative revenue methods. Even in the face of rising inflation and decreased lending demand, there are still many ways credit unions can grow while serving their members well. For more information on how our solutions can help your credit union, contact us! To read the first article in this SNC Spotlight series, Tackling Inflation and the Auto Industry, visit: Protecting Your Credit Union from Car Market Volatility