Executive Insider: Mark Templin

We sit down with the TFS boss to discuss staying competitive as a financial company, working as One Toyota and these synergies we keep hearing about.

February 26, 2019


To say Toyota Financial Services CEO Mark Templin fits the role would be a bit of an understatement.

He carries himself with a certain presence that commands respect. He is easy to talk to, but you still don’t want to disappoint him. Even before joining the workforce, he was a leader on the Central Missouri State football team in college. And, over his 29 years with Toyota, he’s overseen both Lexus and Scion, along with stints at Lexus International and three years at TFS before assuming his current title.
 
Essentially, Templin is a guy with a message that will resonate with team members. So, we gave him a chance to do just that. Wanna know more? Read on.
 
Driver’s Seat: Mark Templin, TFS CEO. So how long have you been in this job?
 
Mark Templin: This job? I have more than one. So, part of it for three years. Part of it for just a few months.
 
OK, explain your jobs to me.
 
I'm currently the president and CEO of TFS USA. I'm also the president and CEO of the Americas and Oceania Region for TFS, which means North and South America plus New Zealand and Australia. Plus, I'm the chief operating officer of our global TFS operations.
 
That seems like a lot.
 
When I took this role, we restructured the global company in a way where I don't have to worry about the day-to-day things going on in Europe, Africa, China, and the rest of Asia so that I could focus on this.
 
A lot of the global stuff is decision making. There are four of us at the global level that form a strategic management committee which makes big decisions for the company. That just means some late-night phone calls and video conferences, but we balance it pretty well.
 
And when you say late night you're not talking 10 p.m., right?
 
No. Sometimes 1 a.m. or 2 a.m.
 
You've had a distinguished career with Toyota, and you've had a lot of impressive jobs. Why did you want to be the CEO of TFS?
 
I've been really lucky. I have 35 years in the car business, 29 years with Toyota, and yeah, I've done a lot of things that I really enjoy. Every job I've ever had I enjoyed, and I've been lucky to do a little bit of everything along the way. I've done work for Toyota. I ran the Scion brand. I ran the Lexus brand. I worked on the Lexus global business from Japan. This gave me the opportunity to do something that I hadn't been actively involved in, and it's been wonderful for me because the last three years I've learned a ton.
 
Friends in High Places -- As the GM of Lexus, Mark Templin introduced the 2013 GS with TMC President Akio Toyoda. 

What was the learning curve like when you came to TFS with no financial experience?
 
It was a lot easier than I thought it would be, to tell you truth. Early on, someone I really respect said something to me that made a lot of sense. He said “everybody's going to make it sound like it's so difficult, but it's not as difficult as it sounds. Here's what we do: We borrow money. We lend money. We collect money. And we pay back what we borrowed. That's what it's all about.”
 
Do you feel like you've been able to create a closer relationship between TMNA and TFS?
 
Absolutely. I think right now we have a lot of people at TFS that worked at TMNA. This is Toyota. We're all Toyota. It doesn't matter if you're a member of TMNA or a member of TFS. We're all One Toyota, and we need to think and act that way.
 
We're all trying to build and sell the same cars, right?
 
Absolutely. We can't make money unless we sell cars.
 
How does TFS compete for business in a world where customers have a lot of financing options?
 
We need to revolutionize our traditional business. Our traditional business is going to be really important to us for a long time because that's where all of our money's going to be coming from. But we also have to start investing in new businesses today because these margins on the traditional business are going to continue to get squeezed, and we have to continue to pick that up. And insurance is a great place. We do that in the U.S. better than anywhere else.
 
In our case, we have to work closely with TMNA in many regards, and we have a lot of products that aren't just directly related to lending to a consumer who's buying a car. We work together on a Toyota rental car program. We work closely on TCUV (Toyota Certified Used Vehicles). We work together on some other programs to help sell cars. They're joint programs where we share in the cost of those programs to create something for our customers.
 
We're working on all kinds of new, innovative products. We're experimenting in the space with a subscription service. There's a lot of new products that we think we might be able to bring to market.
 
Head of the Class -- As Scion boss, Templin introduced the second-generation xB to the world in 2007. 

How is TFS evolving to support TMNA as a mobility company?
 
We have a strategic innovation group we created three years ago, and they're doing a lot of experimenting. I'll give you one example of how we're collaborating across Toyota in that space.
 
Toyota Connected is building a mobility services platform that hopefully all of our mobility businesses around the world will use. They'll use data from the vehicles to be able to run their businesses. Now on top of that platform, our strategic innovation team has built a transaction platform. We call it the Toyota Financial Transaction Platform. It's not really about payments. It's more about calculation and billing. So, we can do the complex calculations of how much to bill a customer for all these different businesses that will exist in the future. And what we'd like to do is roll this out with the mobility services platform to all the companies who are going to experiment in the mobility spaces. That's one good example of how we can work together.
 
So, one thing that we're seeing with One Toyota right now is this synergies project. Tell me about that because I don't know much about what that is, what that means, and what's going to happen.
 
It's more of what we've been trying to do over the last four years. It's about creating One Toyota and acting as one team. We'll always have two companies because TFS is highly regulated. We don't need to put the risk of this company on TMNA. But we're still one family. We should be acting as one company.
 
(TMNA Chief Administrative Officer, Manufacturing and Corporate Resources) Chris Reynolds and I have been working with lots of teams across the company to find ways that we can become more efficient and collaborate better. How we can communicate better. How we can come up with new ideas, and how we can create more opportunities for team members to grow in the company. Out of that project came lots of ideas we're starting to drive forward.
 
We believe that we should have one human resources department that provides services for all Toyota entities. Engineering, Manufacturing, Sales, Marketing and TFS can all be served by one HR department, for example.
 
We should also be speaking with one voice. So, we're consolidating under one umbrella at TMNA to provide those services. When it comes to Corporate Communications and speaking to the outside market, we're combining those groups under one.
 
There are several similar functions that will use existing resources to provide those services for all companies. Conversely, there are things that we do at TFS that we can use. We have a world class Treasury group. So, we're going to take on the treasury function, the cash management function for TMNA here at TFS.
 
Here's another example: We have tax teams working together between TFS and TMNA. They've figured out how to save over $100 million in taxes. There are a lot of great synergies that have been created just because we've really worked hard to bring people together and go find those opportunities.
 
 
By Dan Nied

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