Co. Plans Big Inroads In Indirect Lending

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Look out CUDL, here comes the Aimbridge Group.

In direct competition with CU Direct Lending, The Aimbridge Group plans to take its indirect lending nationwide.

Aimbridge, formerly known as Bentley Networks, said last week it has created a new program in Dallas with eight area credit unions and is about to enter its newest market-the company's 10th-next month in four Ohio cities, Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo and Cleveland.

The latest initiatives are part of a plan by the privately held company to create a national footprint to offer indirect auto lending services to credit unions, according to Les Bentley, co-owner with his brother and founder of the company, Steve Bentley.

To fuel the expansion, under which Aimbridge has doubled its market over the past year, the company has hired a national sales force of six and is expanding that to nine. "Our intention is to really sell our product," said Bentley.

Aimbridge, which also provides home mortgage services to credit unions, is poised to take on CUDL for the credit union business, he said. "Our intent is by the end of next year to be the largest indirect lending company in the industry, larger than CUDL," he said, of the California-based program boasting 200 credit union and 1,500 auto dealer participants.

The company expects to provide more than $2 billion in funding for auto loans through credit unions this year, and that's after selling off its Colorado operations and its $1-billion business to a credit union-owned CUSO earlier this year. Next year's goal is $3 billion, which would put it near CUDL's output.

Among the assets of the Aimbridge program, according to Bentley, one of the founder's of Wyndham Resorts, is its technology platform, providing fast and efficient loans; the reporting features for credit unions, and the management of the dealer network for credit unions.

Business in the company's new Dallas operation-which claims eight credit union participants: Dallas Telco FCU, First Class American CU, Loan Star CU, Members CU, Neighborhood CU, Security One FCU, Texas Health Resources CU, and Vought Heritage Community CU, generated more than $30 million in indirect auto loans in the first month of operations. And that hasn't even begun to tap the full potential, according to Bentley, who said there are more than 300 new auto dealerships in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. "There's tremendous potential out there," he exclaimed.

The Ohio operations, which will consist of a partnership between Aimbridge, the Ohio CU League and credit unions, is the first time the company has partnered with a league. "We think, ultimately, in Ohio, we'll sell the entire business to the Ohio league," said Bentley.

The company currently has indirect lending programs in Dallas and Austin, Texas, Jacksonville, Tampa and Miami, Fla., Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Charleston, S.C. and Pequannock, N.J.

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