Dealer groups are working with the Finance & Leasing Association to raise the profile of SAF (specialist automotive finance) to a new level in 2011.
Paul Harrison, FLA head of motor finance, said: “We are looking to get the UK’s top 30 dealer groups registered as SAF Approved next year. We will also increase our PR and marketing to raise consumer awareness.
“We will target the national press with topical and quirky stories linked to car finance, especially ahead of the registration plate changes in March and September which are peak times for motor coverage in the media.”
Nine of the 10 largest dealer groups are SAF Approved or in the process of putting through the testing procedure for all staff related to retail finance.
“We are hopeful that Pendragon, Inchcape Retail, Sytner Group and Arnold Clark will be SAF Approved by next spring,” said Harrison.
“New laws introduced by the EU Consumer Credit Directive, and in force from February 1, have been a catalyst in encouraging dealers to get more involved.
“We have reached the point where SAF is recognised by lenders and many of the big groups as the standard for finance competence.”
In 2011, the FLA will shift the emphasis towards awareness of SAF among car buyers, which the FLA knows is low. But dealers are increasingly displaying SAF plaques and logos in showrooms.
Harrison joined the FLA in 2006. One of his first tasks was to help develop an initiative to improve dealer knowledge of motor finance and the online SAF test was launched at 2007’s AM Auto-retailing conference.