Tag Archive | "Kumar Kathinokkula"

F&I Express and F&I Administration Solutions Form a Strategic Partnership to Create the First Electronic F&I Product Cancellation Process in the Industry

The integration of F&I Express and F&I Admin addresses the issues that have come forward in recent months about major problems lenders are encountering with aftermarket product cancellations. Express Recoveries, F&I Express’ eCancellation solution, helps solve the issues and moves the manual process to an electronic connection between lenders and providers, which allows for streamlined and compliant cancellations.

The Express Recoveries℠ platform from F&I Express enables lenders to submit F&I product cancellation requests directly and simultaneously to dealers and product providers. The integrated Express Recoveries/F&I Admin platform creates an electronic network that accelerates the processing and recovery of refunds for cancelled F&I products. In addition, full cancellation lifecycle reporting improves the ability of lenders to comply with the changing regulatory environment, and to better service their dealer and consumer customers.

Rich Apicella, GM of the Express Recoveries program at F&I Express explained, “Lenders require access to data from their product provider and dealer partners to fulfill their regulatory obligations for product cancellations. By offering an integrated platform, the F&I Express and F&I Admin team provides the tools and market transparency so that lenders, product providers and dealers can work together more efficiently to ensure consumers receive the product cancellation refunds they are entitled to.”

Lenders are held legally liable by state and federal regulators to process cancellations in a compliant and timely manner. The nation’s leading lenders who are using the Express Recoveries solution have authorized F&I Express to securely manage their cancellation process.

“We are very pleased to be the first to work with F&I Express to develop this electronic solution to a problem that has been in existence for many years,” said Kumar Kathinokkula, COO of F&I Admin. “Not only will this streamline the process and ensure lenders can deliver to their regulatory requirements, but this will also add significant efficiencies to our F&I product administrator customers.”

For more information, visit fandiexpress.com.

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Kathinokkula to Host Online F&I Panel at PALS 2016

LAS VEGAS — Software expert Kumar Kathinokkula will serve as moderator for a panel dedicated to online F&I at the upcoming P&A Leadership Summit, organizers announced Thursday. The event will be held Aug. 30–31, 2016, at Paris Las Vegas.

“Making F&I products available online for end consumers is a subject of great interest to dealers, agents and providers as car buying evolves ever closer to full online purchasing,” said Kathinokkula, who serves as COO of F&I Administration Solutions. “Doing so requires educating the consumers on the value propositions of these products, simplifying the choices, and ensuring the dealer stays in control of the transaction. I feel confident that, with the group we have convened for this panel, we can deliver an intelligent and thought-provoking discussion on this topic.”

The session, “Presenting F&I Products Online,” will also include Daniel Lievrouw, vice president of operations and IT at American Guardian Warranty Services Inc., and Brett Pomerantz, director of ecommerce for Cox Automotive and a founding member of the MakeMyDeal team.

“Any change to the F&I process, even in the name of progress, is bound to spur debate,” said David Gesualdo, show chair and publisher of P&A magazine. “My hat is off to Kumar, Dan and Brett for tackling the subject head-on, and I look forward to a memorable session.”

To register for the 2016 P&A Leadership Summit, click here. Attendees who register by midnight tonight, will save $100.

To inquire about sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, contact David Gesualdo via email hidden; JavaScript is required or at 727-947-4027.

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SaaS or Build: Which Admin System Is Best for You?

For automotive F&I providers and administrators, information technology is the third largest expense after personnel and administrative costs. A majority of that cost goes toward the upkeep and maintenance of the core administration system(s) responsible for products, rates, dealers, contracts, claims and earnings management.

Given the central role that the administration system plays, and especially in circumstances where it has been internally developed by a few key individuals, it is perhaps not surprising that the system and its attendant functions are sometimes viewed as a competitive advantage.

To deliver a competitive advantage, an administrative system needs to provide at least one of the following:

  • Support a product or solution that no one else can offer or
  • Enable support for a product at a lower effort and/or cost than others.

When Legacy Loses Uniqueness

Unfortunately, while the internally developed system may once have delivered on these requirements, it becomes increasingly more difficult and expensive for the development team to keep the uniqueness going. In fact, as more products and product permutations have hit the market, most teams have become consumed with keeping up with basic product requirements; maintaining the uniqueness that they originally delivered becomes secondary. In other words, that thing that set them apart at the start is lost in the effort to keep up with the competition.

F&I business priorities today require administrators to provide a complete portfolio of F&I products through a diverse set of sales channels with flexible and customizable accounting, commission and reinsurance programs. The greatest challenges to legacy systems are that they can only handle one or two products, can only support a few point-of-sale tools (e.g. menus) and have prohibitive modification costs for even simple changes.

In addition, continuing to support in-house systems requires considerable overhead, including salaries, benefits, building space, application licenses and liability. Moreover, continuing to maintain a custom administration system forces businesses to continually mitigate the key-man and technology obsolescence risks.

Emergence of SaaS

In recent years, many industries have taken advantage of the rapid commoditization of computing and have moved to outsourced or Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions for their technology needs. There is no debate as to if SaaS solutions are the right step, but of how and when to adopt such solutions. Adopting SaaS solutions allows providers to set service level standards for vendors, thereby enabling them to focus on managing factors that provide the true competitive edge: products, business processes, branding, data and partnerships.

SaaS solution providers are usually focused on one thing: the software. They have more than one customer and can therefore maintain a much larger development team than any individual provider, so they are able to keep up with business demands and often also get “ahead of the curve” when it comes to connectivity and innovative solutions.

As such, when adopting a SaaS solution, providers must look for a system that will allow for management of a complete product portfolio, retain those business processes that give them a competitive advantage, allow open access to their data and build high-performance partnerships.

It is extremely tough to finance an internal development team that can commit to all of this and deliver it in a timely manner. By adopting the right SaaS solution, a provider will gain a competitive advantage through a system that can support all of its business needs now and into the future. In addition, it enables the team to focus on true business priorities as opposed to technology challenges.

What can SaaS Do for Me?

Here is what product providers should look for in a SaaS provider:

  • A system that allows for management of a complete F&I product portfolio
  • A system that is highly configurable, allowing you to build a competitive advantage through innovative pricing, product combinations and coverage
  • A system that is flexible and robust reporting and business intelligence solutions — keep in mind that the data is yours and you should have easy access to it at all times
  • A system that provides connectivity to menus, DMS systems, credit card providers, inspection companies and other partners
  • A company that gives you the attention and support you need, not just through the implementation but also once you go live

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50th F&I Product Administrator Signs On With F&I Admin

CHICAGO – F&I Administration Solutions, LLC (F&I Admin), North America’s leading provider of software solutions for the administration of F&I products, announced today that it has added it’s 50th product administrator to the company’s steadily growing customer base. This milestone marks a significant achievement for F&I Admin and confirms its leadership position in the automotive and powersports F&I industry.

Since purchasing the company in 2009, F&I Admin has achieved exponential year on year growth – building its customer base from 7 to 50, integrating to over 60 menu and other partners and enhancing its SCS Auto software to continually expand its solutions and services without compromising on flexibility and ease of use. Over 5 million new transactions were processed through the SCS Auto system in 2015.

“F&I Admin differentiates itself from competitors by consistently evolving and updating its software and services,” said Kumar Kathinokkula, COO of F&I Admin. “This constant growth of the breadth and depth of our functionality ensures that we are always appealing to an ever growing list of potential customers. This is one of the major drivers of the rapid pace at which customers are signing up with us.”

“We are very proud of this moment in F&I Admin’s history,” added David Trinder, CEO of F&I Admin. “Companies who select F&I Admin are looking for a partner that is dedicated to the complete customer experience but is still agile enough to adjust to this ever-changing industry. Our continued growth is a direct result of F&I Admin’s ability to deliver to this expectation.”

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An Interview With Kumar Kathinokkula

Over the past several years, Kumar Kathinokkula has emerged as a leading voice of reason and progress as technological advancements have changed the way F&I products are sold and administered. P&A sat down with the COO of F&I Administration Solutions to learn what new developments are on the horizon and how dealers, product providers and administrators will be affected.

Tell me a little bit about your company and its place in the industry.

F&I Admin is the leading provider of administration solutions for F&I products. Our core platform, SCS Auto, natively supports the broadest array of products amongst all solutions in the marketplace. It offers full lifecycle administration of VSC, GAP, prepaid maintenance and at least 15 other products with behavior specific to each product in the same system.

The functionality is as deep as it is broad, and it gets deeper with at least one new release every two months, if not more often. All this comprehensive capability is attested to by our customer base of 50-plus administrators, who collectively process more than five million new F&I contracts every year on our platform.

We also have the highest number of menus connected to us (53 and counting) for erating and econtracting. In fact, our open architecture makes it easy to support a wide array of integrations, such as inspection companies (nine), WrightExpress for claim payments with credit cards, SPP, PayLink and Omnisure for premium financing, and much more.

Are there any recent or future developments within your company that you would like to tell us about?

We are in a very exciting phase of our evolution at the moment. Our customer and transaction base and growth rate give us the muscle and stamina for the kind of long term projects and connected services that no one else has. In 2015, we launched “clearFI,” our business intelligence platform that allows our customers to slice and dice sales, earnings and claims metrics and publish them as interactive dashboards accessible via mobile and desktop devices.

We also launched the F&I private cloud systems architecture in June 2015 that offers our customers redundancy and load balancing within and across dual, geographically distributed data centers. All the while their data is stored exclusively on our disks and servers; nothing is stored on third-party cloud services, all while maintaining the highest levels of performance and availability.

We will soon launch “pureFI,” our next-generation administration platform. We now provide certified DMS integration services via our Agilifi services hub to SCS Auto and other customer systems. We will launch many other services via Agilifi in the coming months, such as VINtelligence support and aftermarket parts pricing integration.

How did you (personally) get started? What caused you to choose this career path?

I worked at Deloitte and CGI for much of my formative years, building business intelligence and P&C insurance solutions. The consulting role suited my temperament well, since I am constantly looking for new challenges. Eventually, I wanted to build the kind of solutions that would take a very long-term focus — something that was not possible in the consulting field.

In 2004, I left consulting for the opportunity to build an F&I administration and menu presentation solution set for a company that was eventually purchased by Dealertrack. David Trinder and I bought that division from Dealertrack in 2009 and formed F&I Administration Solutions.

What are your outside interests / what do you like to do on your days off? What activities/sports are you passionate about?

If I were ever to retire, you would likely find me riding a motorcycle in Africa, Asia or Latin America. I like traveling to new countries and places. Just last year, we visited the Taj Mahal in India, the cloud forests and beaches of Costa Rica, and the estuaries and coastal beauty of northwest Oregon. When I can’t afford a long trip, I like to run and cycle a few miles from home.

What are the biggest issues you see facing the industry today and in the future?

As always, our customers continue to watch the regulatory environment carefully. We do provide many pricing parameters that ensure dealers are pricing products fairly and within a reasonable range. In addition, however, the industry continues to pursue the holy grail of easy, paperless transacting in the F&I office. This requires several disparate entities (lenders, administrators, state and federal regulators) to all come together to create an environment that facilitates such seamless processing at the dealership.

Although many are working on it, no single platform in use at the dealership yet provides a compelling paperless workflow to integrate the disparate transactions with these entities that a single vehicle purchase usually entails. The market will ensure that it is only a matter of time before such solutions are created. As has been the case lately with technological change, when this occurs, the pace of adoption will be rapid. Administrators must ensure they have the right technological platforms to connect with and support such solutions as quickly as they appear.

As always, the never-ending quest for greater efficiency continues to drive administrators to integrate and automate every aspect of their systems and processes. The current focus of this drive is producer signup and management processes, reinsurance administration and customer service. The common thread running through these efforts is the desire to make all aspects of the interaction with an administrator as easy as possible.

Administrators sit at the center of a complex web of service providers and partners that all need to work together to provide a seamless experience for their customers. This implies their systems need to be increasingly open and connected so they can drive this efficiency and ease of doing business. Increasingly, this means having open, flexible, secure, reliable and performant systems that can be easily integrated with a limitless array of partners and vendors. This is exactly the kind of systems we build and are continuing to build.

The entire functionality of pureFI will be exposed as REST APIs that can be consumed internally or externally so that integrating with other systems is merely a function of finding the right set of services to connect.

What advice would you give to someone new to this industry?

Get used to complexity and change. Always ask and know why. Never get comfortable with status quo. And don’t ever think you know everything. From the outside, the F&I industry may appear a bit behind the times with its reliance on paper at several junctures. But you only have to scratch the surface to be see the amount of complexity and sophistication that underlies the products on offer, and that the value chain that leads up to it is enormous. Go deeper and you see new products showing up on a regular basis, new ways of earning these, new and better ways of adjudicating claims, and more ways of automating every administrative process.

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Session Highlights: eSignature, Forms Management and Systems Integration

LAS VEGAS – At this year’s P&A Leadership Summit a panel of leading experts from systems, DMS, and eSignature providers will discuss all aspects of eSignatures, forms management and systems integration. As well as covering the various ways that eSignatures can be collected, representatives will discuss future visions of forms management along with the challenges of integration and dealer rollout.

Daniel Lievrouw, VP of operations and IT, American Guardian Warranty Services’ will moderate a panel which will include: Steve Bisbee, president and CEO, eOriginal, Inc.; Kumar Kathinokkula, COO, F&I Administration Solutions, Inc.; Ronda Lewis, national director of sales, Dealertrack; Brian Krasavage, director of product management, ADP Dealer Services; and Brent Allen, president, StoneEagle.

“I look forward to the opportunity to discuss eSignatures with the panel,” says Lievrouw, “eSignatures have been available in other industries and in use in dealerships with retail finance contracts for years. Providers of F&I products and their partners in this space need to work together to identify and adopt a seamless process to allow eSignatures to flow across all documents in the F&I office soon if they do not want to be left behind. By the time we are through, the audience will have a clear view of what their systems will need to support for the future.”

The presentation will begin at 3:05 p.m. on Tuesday, September 9, 2014, and will be immediately followed by the Industry Summit Awards Program and exhibit hall reception.

The P&A Leadership Summit is a joint production between P&A and F&I and Showroom magazines. It is scheduled for Sept. 8-9 at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel. For more information, visit pa-leadershipsummit.com or contact Eric Gesualdo via email hidden; JavaScript is required or at (727)-940-5823.

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