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Specialist finance initiative

Dealers can now register for Specialist Automotive Finance (SAF), the Finance & Leasing Association’s initiative to stem the decline in point-of-sale finance.

At last month’s Autoretailing conference, staged by AM, the FLA introduced a motor finance competence test aimed at helping dealerships improve staff understanding of finance products.

The FLA believes the online test will help convince retail car buyers that dealers are best placed to advise on motor finance. Dealers who participate will not be charged.

The FLA’s latest research shows point-of-sale provision of finance on new cars has slumped to 45.8%. The association believes one of the problems is a lack of training.

Its motor-finance members hope SAF will encourage more dealers to attain the 70% penetration achieved by some dealer groups.

Louise Wallis, business development director at the RMIF, says: “The marked fall in motor finance provided by dealers is a massive issue for motor retailing.

“We are supporting the FLA initiative and a number of big dealer groups, including Vertu and Perrys, are getting involved.”

Paul Williams, chairman of the National Franchised Dealers Association, is backing the FLA programme. Williams, non-executive chairman of Vertu Motors following its purchase of Bristol Street Motors, says: “The advance of high-street and direct lenders is a real threat and we will do anything we can to bring about an improvement.”

The SAF’s competence test, aimed at customer-facing staff in dealerships, must be renewed annually. It consists of challenging multiple-choice questions to be completed within 40 minutes.

Users are asked questions on a range of motor finance products and their understanding of regulations governing their sale.

Dealers can now log on and register for the test at www.specialistautomotivefinance.org.uk

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