A new survey of risk managers in financial services points to stability in the auto finance sector ahead of other lending categories.

Survey respondents were asked to rank the lending sector they considered the greatest credit risk for the next six months: autos, credit cards, mortgages or small business lending. Autos received the smallest response, at 15%. Credit cards were highest, at approximately 36%. FICO and the Professional Risk Managers' International Association sponsored the quarterly survey, and the Columbia School of Business in New York analyzed the responses. Results for the second quarter were announced this week.

Nearly half of the respondents said they expect auto loan delinquencies to stay about the same in the coming months. Nearly all the rest said auto delinquencies would increase or decrease slightly.

While the results could indicate a slowdown in the rate of improvement for the sector, stability is still considered good news because it encourages auto lenders to maintain easy access to credit, analysts said.

Separately, U.S. credit bureaus reported that auto loan delinquencies are close to record lows despite an increase in volume, including an increase in subprime auto loans.

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