Banking on a personal touch

Louis-Philippe Ménard, Senior Manager, Consumer Financing Solutions, National Bank of Canada

With a large field staff across Canada, and a focus on staying close with dealer customers, National Bank of Canada is looking to grow its automotive business.

You can’t deliver top notch service that connects with your customers if you aren’t staying extra close to them.

That’s true for car dealers, and also true for their banking partners. “It’s all about relationships,” Louis-Philippe Ménard, Senior Manager, Consumer Financing Solutions, National Bank of Canada. “At the end of the day, dealers want to deal with lenders they know, that have their trust and know their business. That’s why we try to be out there as much as possible.” 

Ménard said to accomplish that goal, the bank built a large field staff spread out across Canada with one team for Québec and the Atlantic, another for Ontario and one for western Canada. Being close to their dealers helps ensure they are positioned to help explain new bank programs and offerings. 

“Dealers in different regions of Canada have different lending needs, and the profile of their customers is also much different,” said Ménard. “Having regional field teams really helps make sure that our programs are right for each market. For example, demand and infrastructure for EVs is variable across the country and as such, incentives or special lending programs will not have the same success across all markets. There is no one size fits all approach.” 

Staying close to dealers and their customers also means the bank can stay abreast of broader trends impacting the auto retail industry, so that they can pivot and adapt as needed.

“Recently, a lot has changed in the economy and in people’s personal financial situations that have to be taken into consideration,” said Ménard. “We try to understand where the market is going to land for the next few years to come. Having a good understanding of that will impact the loan offers, not only from a new vehicle perspective, but also for used.”

To stay connected to the reality on the ground the bank adapts to the environment. Menard said the bank can change the way they structure their loans and terms based on the borrowers’ evolving needs. “At the end of the day, the dealers are the ones sending us the customers, so we want to make sure that we’re working closely with them. In a few years, that customer might be buying another vehicle from the same dealer, and we want to retain our customers.”

Menard said the bank also works hard for their dealers to prove they are an agile partner that can get deals approved and funded quickly. “They want to make the process quick, and we’re there for that. That applies not only to the funding decision but to the disbursement of funds. While we are diligent, we try to be quick and agile. We’re there for them.”

Menard said the bank keeps close tabs on the OEMs and their incentive strategies, and other market factors. “How are all the forces in the ecosystem interacting? That’s mainly what we’re trying to figure out and try to land at the right place for the customer at the end of the day,” he said.

Headquartered in Montréal, Qué., National Bank of Canada was founded in 1859 by a group of Québec City businessmen, and has grown to become Canada’s 6th largest bank with 360+ branches — and is the leading bank in Quebec. They offer a full range of financial services for individuals, businesses, and clients with specific needs, both domestically and internationally. They also offer a wide range of banking and insurance services as well as innovative investment and wealth management solutions.

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