Retiring F&I Express CEO to assist in transition

Brian Reed, CEO of F&I Express, retired Friday, about four months after Cox Automotive acquired the F&I technology company. Reed for more than a decade has been an advocate for online car-buying and electronic contracting for F&I products.

Reed, 61, was also founder of F&I Express, which provides a portal that connects dealerships to F&I product providers. He told Automotive News that he would assist his successor, Gary Peek, in the transition over the next 90 days.

“About a year and a half ago, we brought Gary on as our [chief information officer], but one of the criteria was whoever we brought on could be someone that had the ability to replace me,” Reed said.

Peek, 54, vice president of F&I Express since last month, described the succession plan as a smooth handoff in a long-distance relay.

“We’re not stumbling into the handoff. We’re not fumbling the baton. The foundation that Brian’s built over the years with this company and with the industry and with the team he’s recruited, this is a great organization to be a part of,” Peek said. “It’s really a client-focused culture.”

Digital future

When Reed launched F&I Express 11 years ago, he and his colleagues expected the F&I process to be fully digital within a few years.

“Well, this is 2019, and [while] the industry’s made great progress, we know it’s still not there,” Reed said.

Still, the auto industry has made “dramatic movement” toward digital retailing, Reed said, and while a fully connected shopping, sales and F&I process has yet to be achieved, Reed believes Cox is poised to guide the market. Cox had a minority stake in F&I Express for five years before acquiring the company in 2018.

“Cox has the resources now and the companies to pull it all together,” Reed said. “It’s systematically taken all the pieces of different functions of an online deal and connected them all together to really deliver a great experience for the consumer as well as the dealer.”

Priorities

Peek said continuing client relationships and maintaining customer data compliance standards will remain top priorities for F&I Express.

“We’re going to still continue to power the industry with our platforms and technologies, and continue to grow the business this year,” he said.

As Reed steps away from the daily operations, he says he’ll evaluate his future.

“There’s nothing I have planned in the immediate future, and I can tell you a lot of people have reached out to me to wish me good luck and would like me to help them out in some manner,” Reed said. “Probably that’s not my focus right now, but we’ll see what happens down the road.”