Channel | Highlights

PALS Operates At the Highest Levels

On Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, the third annual P&A Leadership Summit will kick off a two-day schedule featuring an all-star cast of speakers who will deliver highly anticipated keynote addresses and hard-hitting panel discussions. Their collective goal is to further the momentum of the industry’s only event designed by and for executives, experts and thought leaders in the F&I product providers and administrators segment.

David Trinder, CEO of F&I Administration Solutions, has chaired the event’s advisory board since 2013, when it launched as the successor to the Vehicle Service Contract Administrators Conference (VSCAC). The P&A Leadership Summit, also known as PALS, draws F&I product providers and administrators through its open forum in which the pressing issues unique to their industry can be debated and discussed.

The format works, says Show Chair David Gesualdo, because new concerns, particularly those driven by regulators at the state and federal levels, have forced industry members to widen their fields of interest.

“At no time in our industry’s great history have the axes of prosperity and regulatory pressure collided with such force,” says Gesualdo, who serves as publisher for a number of industry magazines, including F&I and Showroom and P&A Magazine which jointly produce PALS. “If your concern lies with the prosperity of you dealer clients as well as their partner companies, I encourage you to join us. Those who have attended in past years will tell you it is worth the trip.”

An Agenda to Remember

Gesualdo’s contention is reflected in the work of Aaron Lunt, an attorney who serves as assistant counsel and head of regulatory affairs for The Warranty Group, a leading F&I product provider. Lunt appeared at the Midwest Compliance Summit in April and will deliver the opening keynote address at PALS on the morning of Sept. 9. Lunt’s address will be sponsored by Dealers Assurance Company (DAC).

The opening keynote will be followed by the event’s first panel session, “Govern or Be Governed.” Led by Tim Meenan, an attorney and managing shareholder of Meenan PA, and staffed by GSFSGroup’s president, Steve Amos; David DeCredico, senior vice president of business development at EasyCare; Doug Frey, executive vice president of Allstate Dealer Services; Mark Macek, president of United States Warranty Corp.; and Kelly Price, president of National Automotive Experts; the panel will address how the threat of increased regulation of F&I products is addressed in the insurance segment. The discussion is expected to include preventive measures such as price controls and markup caps.

“Tim’s panel will be of particular interest to those looking for strategies for addressing regulatory pressure at the highest levels,” Gesualdo said. “We anticipate a spirited discussion among his panelists.”

Kristen Gruber, president of DAC, will lead the event’s next panel. “Leveraging Technology for Improved Data Analytics” will feature a discussion among Gruber and Kumar Kathinokkula, COO of F&I Administration Solutions; GPW and Associates’ senior vice president, Joseph Kirsits; and Russell Ridley, IT director of GSFSGroup. Each of the executives is using technology to improve their understanding of historical loss data, says Gruber, who describes the panel as a “must-attend session.”

“Contract administration systems are a big investment for many administrators,” she adds, “and the return on this investment can be amplified by a company’s ability to extract meaning from the data captured.”

After a brief networking break sponsored by AFIP, the event will resume with “Solving the Industry’s Conundrums, One Question at a Time,” an address by Kirk Borchardt, an attorney and a leading expert on the regulatory, tax and corporate structural aspects of the service contract and ancillary products industries.

“You can count on Kirk Borchardt to fairly (and creatively) present outstanding issues and risks associated with each question,” Gruber says. “His background and knowledge about our industry make him the perfect person to tackle complex questions in this type of forum.”

Borchardt’s address will be followed by an evening keynote address that will be open to attendees of PALS and the co-located Industry Summit. Bill Fox, 2015 chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), is also a licensed attorney as well as an Upstate New York dealer. A longtime member of the dealer association and a staunch defender of the franchised dealership model, Fox says he is looking forward to addressing the combined audience.

“Our industry is constantly overcoming challenges while seeing new ones arise,” Fox says. “Forums like this allow us to continue an open dialogue with our industry partners to discuss NADA’s top issues, which include protecting consumer access to credit, promoting the value of the dealer franchise network and refocusing our efforts as a trade association to better serve our dealer members.”

From 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., PALS Attendees will join Industry Summit attendees in the exhibit hall for an evening reception at which attendees, speakers and exhibitors from both conferences will be welcome.

Breakfast will be a combined event with PALS and Industry Summit attendees, served in the exhibit hall from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Thursday morning, followed by an opening keynote address to both groups by Andy Koblenz, an attorney and dealer advocate who serves as the NADA’s executive vice president of legal and regulatory affairs and general council. Koblenz has helped guide the association through a number of regulatory as well as economic challenges.

“Industry Summit will provide an ideal forum to discuss a resolution of the challenges to the indirect vehicle financing model presented by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,” he says. “As a matter of principle, car buyers have the right to negotiate the rate on auto loans. And they have the right to seek a better deal. No government institution should deny that.”

Following Koblenz’s address, the PALS schedule will resume with “The Power of Digital F&I: What It Means for F&I Administrators,” a workshop led by Brian Reed, president and CEO of F&I Express, and Mike Burgiss, founder of MakeMyDeal, a Cox Automotive company. Reed and Burgiss are expected to discuss what the future holds for F&I if the industry moves toward a fully online transaction.

For his part, Reed believes that, with proper positioning, F&I producers have nothing to fear. “Providing product and price information online along with associated product content will improve the customer’s understanding of F&I products prior to entering the dealership, and ultimately improve F&I closing rates,” he says.

Reed and Burgiss’ workshop will be followed by a 40-minute networking break, sponsored by F&I Administration Solutions. Then, at 11:35 a.m., Jorge Gross, principal at Trivest Partners, will take the stage. Gross will discuss his company’s 2013 acquisitions of National Auto Care (NAC) and Family First Dealer Services (FFDS), as well as some of some of his thoughts on their merger.

“I look forward to attending the P&A Leadership Summit and discussing the acquisitions and merger of National Auto Care and Family First Dealer Services, which have proven to be a tremendous investment for Trivest Partners,” Gross said. “I will touch on valuation, the variables we looked for, the aspects we liked and perhaps a few items I wish I had known before we completed the transactions. I will also speak to the process and effort of combining the two businesses.”

A 90-minute lunch in the exhibit hall will be followed by the event’s final workshop. Mark Anderson, owner of LWACOR, will deliver “Implications to Producer- and Dealership-Retained Risk Programs From Recent Tax Court Decisions and IRS Rulings and Regulations.” His presentation will include expert analysis of a number of recent IRS rule changes and U.S. Tax Court decisions, including Rent-A-Center v. Commissioner and Securitas Holdings v. Commissioner, which Anderson says should now be considered in the structuring of risk programs.

Following a networking break sponsored by Provider Exchange Network, the PALS agenda will conclude with a must-attend event, “Measuring Your Claim/Call Center Metrics, Attributes and Efficiencies,” a panel discussion led by Don Larsen, loss control director and director of asset management for American Guardian Warranty Services (AGWS). Larsen will be joined by Tony Keesee, director of customer care for StoneEagle; George Krnich, vice president of claims and risk management for AAGI; National Auto Care (NAC)’s vice president of claims and customer service, Paul Leary; and Trish Myers, senior financial analyst for EFG Companies.

Describing the P&A business as “information-intensive,” Larsen says his panel will discuss the analysis of large amounts of data and the use of qualitative, quantitative and efficiency metrics. “To become successful, claim/call centers should be able to separate, measure and analyze facts and figures that will ultimately improve the customer service experience.”

At 4:30 p.m., both PALS and Industry Summit attendees will be invited to the Industry Summit Hosted Happy Hour, sponsored by Auto Dealer Monthly, at which the winners of ADT’s Dealers’ Choice Awards and F&I and Showroom’s F&I Pacesetter and Dealer of the Year awards will be honored. PALS attendees and speakers will take particular interest in the Dealers’ Choice Awards, for which many of their companies will be recognized.

The awards ceremonies will conclude in time for Wednesday’s evening reception in the exhibit hall, which will once again be open from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. PALS registrants’ full-show passes will give them access to the awards ceremonies and networking opportunities as well as the Industry Summit educational sessions.

“To all our sponsors and exhibitors, all I can say is ‘Thank you,’ because the P&A Leadership Summit would not be possible without their support,” Gesualdo says. “But I know they would agree that it’s the passion of our speakers and attendees — and the knowledge they share — that drive it forward.”

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2017 Advisory Board

David Trinder 
CEO, F&I Administration Solutions and Advisory Board Chair

Brent Allen
President, StoneEagle Insurance Systems

Jimmy Atkinson 
President/CEO, AUL Corp 

Robert Berger Jr.
Executive Vice President & Director of Operations, Wise F&I

Bob Corbin
President and CEO, IAS

Ron Greer
Vice President of Provider Services, Open Dealer Exchange, LLC

Kristen Gruber
President, Dealers Assurance Company

Lori Hallissey
Chief Operating Officer, Portfolio Reinsurance Services

Arden Hetland
President, American Financial and Automotive Services

Daniel Lievrouw
VP of Operations & I.T., American Guardian Warranty Services, Inc.

Adam Pope
President, Warranty Solutions

Kelly Price
CEO, NAE NWAN

Mitch Rand
President, C&K Auto Parts, WIS Inspections

Tony Wanderon
CEO, National Auto Care