7 Questions with Steve Malone, Chief Operating Officer, AutoCapital Canada, Inc.
Steve has significant leadership experience in the Canadian financial services industry. Steve began his career in the branch network with Trans Canada Credit in Eastern Canada and rose through increasingly more senior positions to Vice President of Credit Operations with Wells Fargo in Canada. Prior to joining AutoCapital Canada, Steve spent 2 years with D+H, a leading provider of technology solutions to domestic and global financial institutions, as vice president in two verticals, an indirect lending division as well as a collateral management division. In mid-2012 Steve joined the two founding principals of AutoCapital to lead the launch of the business. Over the last two years the AutoCapital team has grown to 50+ team members and are now actively doing business on a national basis.
What’s your #1 business priority for 2015?
Controls, controls and more controls…..operating in an indirect lending model, particularly the non-prime space, it’s all about having the proper controls in place and continuous testing of those controls. We have brought a lot of discipline in our approach to launching our business but we have also been busy and have implemented numerous initiatives over the past year and a half. Controls are our ticket to play in this space and we will continue to always make that a top priority.
What’s the leading characteristic of a financial services organization?
Anybody operating in financial services today needs a healthy balance between customer service and compliance. We always talk at AutoCapital about creating raving fans in our customers. If we execute on our service delivery then our customers, our dealers, will want to do more business with us. The more business they do, the more we process and therefore the need for greater compliance. Sounds simple enough, but actually more difficult when striving to be best in class in both of these leading characteristics.
Your top piece of advice for future financial services executives?
Concentrate less on building your work resume and focus more on building your “eulogy” resume. For example, if you ultimately want to be remembered as someone that has high integrity, always did the right thing, was responsive to people’s needs and earned the respect of others, then working at those things now will serve any future financial services executive, or anyone for that matter, extremely well. I am sure many executives start to think of the impact they have made towards the end of their career – if those future financial services executives put some thought to it going in, I have a hunch they will enjoy a much more rewarding and fulfilling career.
When you were 20, what did you envision for your career?
I can honestly say I had no idea at the time. I finished university and the only thing I knew is that if I didn’t take some time to travel while I had the chance then I would most likely start a job and dive into it for the next 20 years. I left for a trip to Australia and New Zealand that was supposed to be for 90 days, I came back 18 months later, had very little money in my pockets, found a job within a few days at a finance company and haven’t left the industry since. What I probably did envision at 20 was that no matter where I ended up, I wanted to work with a diverse group of people where I could constantly learn, I wanted to work in a collaborative environment with dedicated and passionate people and I wanted to be a part of something that was going to drive significant change within an industry. Luckily enough, at AutoCapital I have found all those things.
The most unusual job you’ve ever had?
The reason I stayed 18 months as opposed to 90 days when I traveled “Down Under” was that I found a construction type job that paid extremely well so I worked for 3 months and was then fortunate to travel for another 15. The work, called re-blocking, involved crawling underneath houses, basically lifting them up on hydraulic car jacks and replacing all the stilts/stumps that the houses sat on (concreate foundations were uncommon). I was young and naïve, I only realized afterwards that I was getting paid very well because it included a high portion of “danger pay”.
Your favorite book or movie?
Extremely hard to narrow either of those down to just one. Movies – I would have to reach back into the vault and say Shawshank Redemption and Good Fellas are two movies that have stood the test of time and are at the top of my list. Books – probably even more difficult, I like autobiographies and most people’s stories I find incredibly intriguing. Earlier this year I read Nelson Mandela’s and Chris Hatfield’s (Canadian astronaut) autobiography, both fascinating and inspiring stories. While not exactly an autobiography, I am currently reading Switch Point which is a remarkable story of how Hunter Harrison, CEO of Canadian National Railway (CN) executed on a blueprint for transformational change at an industry laggard at the time to the leader in its field in North America.
Favorite quote or motto?
“Be persistent to be consistent and consistent to be persistent.” It’s a fun quote but actually has a lot of merit that if you focus on each component, especially in a service oriented industry, it will lead to good things. Everything in life doesn’t have to be complicated. Keep it simple and real. This quote epitomizes that.