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Driving to scale at CFS Finance

This project was completed by Trineo before our teams became one; but regardless of which name is attached to it, all of our customers can count on receiving the same level of support, dedication, and expertise.

Community Financial Services (CFS) is a 100% NZ-owned car finance company that serves customers with car loans that are tailored to the individual – meeting their needs whilst not overstretching them financially. Real people are responsible for funding decisions, taking each application’s unique situation into account.

At CFS, people, not computers, make the decision of whether to offer an applicant a loan. They believe that computers can’t appreciate the nuances of each applicant’s situation, and therefore, some deserving people who are likely to pay back a loan are overlooked.

For example, a recent applicant was several thousand dollars in debt with historical defaults. Though most lenders wouldn’t offer him a loan, CFS did. The applicant revealed that he was just divorced and had incurred half of his ex-spouse’s debt as part of the settlement. He had a repayment plan in place for the debt and needed a car to commute to his new job. Upon close assessment, the applicant was a good candidate, so CFS gave him a second chance with a realistic and affordable car loan to meet his requirements.

Manual processes and reams of paper

It was time for CFS to grow and add new dealer relationships while still retaining profitability. But their manual, paper-based workflow for managing loans was neither efficient nor scalable.

The current, cumbersome process required each CFS-affiliated car dealer to submit a paper application on behalf of their customer. Then a CFS lender would print out the application plus applicable bank and credit information. After a review and a decision, the lender would then use an Excel spreadsheet to calculate the loan and communicate back to the dealer via phone, text, or email.

It was painful and slow to gather and review the information. Each candidate also generated many reams of paper. Laura Campbell, Trineo Project Manager, jokes that CFS was keeping Dunder Mifflin in business.

Lots of paper!

The goal: scale while keeping people involved

CFS wanted to serve dealers, customers, and their own lending team with an efficient, streamlined application process, an easier communication flow, and reduced loan processing time. They also wanted to keep real people involved in loan decision-making, in line with the company’s ethos. In eight two-week work sprints, the Trineo team built two complementary systems: Launchpad, an online portal for dealers to process and submit applications on behalf of borrowers; and a new Salesforce Service Cloud implementation to support end-to-end loan processing.

Our aim was to build a system that automated the collection of data wherever possible, but still allowed the customer assessment to be efficiently undertaken by our lenders holistically rather than by templated or score carded outcomes. This was a key requirement to ensure we understood a customer’s needs and requirements in order to make an appropriate lending decision. The solution needed to be scalable to meet both current and future needs.Paul Collins, Group Operations Manager, CFS Finance

Launchpad for dealers

CFS-affiliated dealers use Launchpad to upload documents and capture borrower details electronically, using either Quick Launch to get the process started with just a few details, or a Full Launch, with more details displayed to complete a more comprehensive application.

Credit Sense for faster data extraction
Launchpad also contains the ability to log into Credit Sense, a bank account analytics tool. With permission from the applicant, this tool connects with an applicant’s bank account and pipes relevant information to CFS, accelerating the time it takes to collect and analyze loan data to assist with decision making. Without Credit Sense, loan reviewers had to collect and manually crunch numbers on three months of bank statements. Higher use of Credit Sense saves hours of time.

Calculator for scenario planning
Launchpad’s Calculator functionality enables dealers to conduct what-if scenario planning with applicants; for example, to evaluate a loan’s impact on a budget. The Calculator takes a user-entered deposit amount and immediately calculates the required loan payments. This Calculator-generated data can auto-populate the cost section of the online application form, an efficient way of working through the application.

Salesforce speeds processing efficiency

Once the dealer presses “send” on the application, it enters the second new system that Trineo implemented: a Salesforce instance for CFS lenders to capture and manage applications. They use Salesforce to gather additional information about the application and the borrower. Then they assess the loan’s suitability. Throughout the process, Launchpad sends up-to-date information back to the dealer via a Mission Overview page.

A central Salesforce dashboard also provides the CFS Lending team a holistic view of all steps in the lending process, providing real-time access to volumes, trends, and bottlenecks should they occur. This process allows the team to maintain a consistently high level of service to its dealer network and customers alike.

A Lightning implementation

Trineo undertook a Salesforce Lightning implementation for CFS, complete with a user interface configured to meet CFS lenders’ needs and workflow. The team created the Application as a custom object, designed to manage the lifecycle of each application as it flows through the process. An additional Borrower object captures details about the applicant’s credit.

Via an API that hooks into Centrix, Salesforce displays applicants’ credit, driver's licence validity, passports, insolvency, fines pending, and more, all without the need for lenders to separately log into the Centrix system. And now, instead of a chunky file of paper, Salesforce collates all applicant information digitally and keeps it readily available.

Success: fast user adoption

A key success metric is how fast it takes users to adopt new technology. In this case, the project was a huge success. The CFS team had used an entirely paper-based system prior to implementing Salesforce. Once the new program went live, the lenders started using all of the new features within two days!

Laura Campbell says, “The user take-up was really telling. About a month in, CFS started rolling Launchpad out to friendly dealers, and the next time they contacted us, they had over 50 dealers using it. All of their applications are entered through Launchpad now, with 60% of applications directly entered by the dealer.

“One of the cool things is that with Salesforce, you’re getting the best of both worlds– something beautiful and customizable for your customers, but for your staff, you’re getting an out-of-the-box solution that you’re leveraging. Salesforce’s massive investment in their platform is clear.”

A competitive advantage over other lenders

Aside from powering up CFS’s scaling goals, Launchpad presents CFS with a big competitive advantage over other lenders. The platform is easy for dealers to use, enabling them to serve and communicate with their customers better. While other lenders offer financing applications, none are as well-designed nor as brandable.

With Launchpad built on the Salesforce platform, we are able to respond quickly to customer needs and market changes and adapt process and functionality to meet those requirements. For a lot of these changes, we can manage these directly in-house without the need for non out of the box solutions. Paul Collins, Group Operations Manager, CFS Finance

Great teamwork = an excellent partnership

Laura Campbell says, “Honestly everything ran like clockwork. Everyone knew what they were doing, who to talk to, deployments were easy and development was on the rails. It comes from a project team that’s all on equal footing. When we needed to make a decision, we’d call [CFS] because we respected them and needed to make the decision together and have buy-in because it’s not 'Trineo' at CFS. It’s the team working on Launchpad. And that’s what makes a good client.”

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