WASHINGTON — While the economy is beginning to show signs of recovery, many challenges remain for the vehicle finance industry. In response, the American Financial Services Association (AFSA) has assembled a powerful lineup for its 14th Annual Vehicle Finance Conference and Exposition, which will be held Feb. 10-12 at Walt Disney’s Yacht Club Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Led by AFSA’s Vehicle Finance Division Chair Stephen Smith, senior vice president, financial services, American Honda Finance Corp., the conference will begin with an update on AFSA’s initiatives by Chris Stinebert, president & CEO, followed by a keynote address from Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace. The conference program will address the economy and credit markets, financial reform, improving operations, risk management, planning for the future and marketing to attract the “new hip consumer.”

Co-sponsored by the AFSA Education Foundation, the conference will feature a panel with chief executive officers from vehicle finance companies and a “Straight Talk with Dealers” session with representatives from the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA). CEO panel speakers will be: Steven Lambert of Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation; John Noone of Ford Motor Credit Company LLC; and Thomas Wolfe of Wachovia Dealer Financial Services.

Providing the dealer perspective will be: Forrest McConnell III, Chairman of NADA’s Regulatory Affairs Committee and president of McConnell Honda; Edward Tonkin, NADA Chairman-Elect and president of Ron Tonkin Dealerships; Stephen Wade,  NADA Vice Chairman-Elect and president of Stephen Wade Auto Centers; and Kevin Westfall, AutoNation senior vice president, sales F&I.

The conference also will include a workshop on “Financial Literacy: The New Imperative,” which will provide an overview of the current financial literacy atmosphere and highlight successful auto finance company initiatives to help educate consumers.

The AFSA 2010 Vehicle Finance Conference and Exposition will precede NADA’s Annual Convention & Expo, to be held Feb. 13-15 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. To register for AFSA’s meeting, please visit www.vehiclefinanceconference.com. For exhibit and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Matt Gannon at [email protected].