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QUESTION & ANSWER

Toyota's bank boosts dealership services

Toyota Financial Savings Bank CEO Ray Specht: "We will be nationwide in April."
Toyota is not looking to become the next Bank of America. But since its creation in 2004, Toyota Financial Savings Bank has sought to be competitive in obtaining more deposit and lending business from franchised car dealers.

In an interview with Staff Reporter Mark Rechtin, Toyota Financial Savings Bank CEO Ray Specht talked about Toyota's plans for the near future.

What are the details of your dealer banking program?

We launched in January and are in 20 states right now, but we will be nationwide by April. It's available to all Toyota, Lexus, Hino and Toyota forklift dealers. With the program, dealers can get deposit accounts and lending accounts. They also can have a personal banker available 24-7.

How do Toyota's deposit accounts work?

The deposit accounts can be for the dealer or the dealership. We will offer money markets and CDs that range from three months to three years in length.

Our rates will always exceed the national average posted in The Wall Street Journal. They won't be the highest in the U.S., but they will be better than the community bank, Bank of America or Citibank. It's not a promotional rate that evaporates, either.

Every dealer principal gets free online cash management, where they can spread money from our account to other banks.

We are not looking to take the place of the dealer's day-to-day commercial checking account. We're a place for a dealer to place his excess cash, to use it for city taxes, for withholding taxes or as an escrow account for a future transaction.

What about on the lending side?

For dealers, we will do first mortgages, either APR or fixed rates, with flexible maturity dates. So, if a dealer is on vacation in Palm Springs and sees a house for sale, he calls us to get the loan going.

We prefill all the applications, and our rates will be market competitive. We also allow him to dictate when and where he wants the loan documents to close.

In February, we will launch home equity lines of credit and second mortgages.

We also will be developing personal lines of credit. Later this year, we will have a commercial loan program for dealer investment needs.

Toyota Financial Services will still do floorplanning and the commercial real estate for the dealership, but TFSB will handle real estate purchased outside the scope of the

Toyota or Lexus dealership, say a shopping mall or a tract of land. We also will do personal loans for a yacht or exotic car.

What about providing personal bankers?

Dealers are high-net-worth guys, and a lot of banks' personal bankers don't know the dealer's world of cars. Our private bankers are trained in Toyota Financial Services programs. The Toyota Financial Services area managers will be the personal bankers' eyes and ears in the field, listening to see if they can funnel business to a personal banker. But these personal bankers will not be private bankers. We will not do trust services, estate planning or managing a stock portfolio.

When will we see the first brick-and-mortar Bank of Toyota branch?

You won't. We aren't creating branches.

Everything will either be at the dealership, over the phone or on the Internet.

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