Politicians have signalled support for the Finance & Leasing Association’s Specialist Automotive Finance (SAF) showroom competence initiative launched four years ago.
SAF has the backing of 75% of the top 30 franchised dealer groups. Around 1,500 dealerships are SAF Approved and more than 11,000 motor retail employees are registered for the online SAF competence test.
Paul Harrison, FLA head of motor finance, addressed MPs on the All Party Parliamentary Group on Trading Standards to press the case for self-regulation to be part of any new regulatory regime for credit.
“Such initiatives can often respond more quickly to changing market dynamics and help to raise standards,” he said.
Meeting chairman Lib Dem MP Stephen Lloyd said: “Self-regulation is cheaper and quicker than the alternative. Where there is a strong model we should find ways to reward it.”
Stephen Sklaroff, FLA director general, told the MPs: “We are con-cerned that any discussion in government about a new regime in business lending could reduce self-regulation.”
Ron Gainsford, Trading Standards Institute chief executive, told the MPs the FLA had moved quite quickly with SAF since 2007, showing it was never too late to introduce change.
“SAF is maturing,” he said. “When it is combined with the SMMT’s Motor Codes we are beginning to see a sea- change, but consumers need to buy into it.”
Gainsford said after the meeting that business must strive to meet regulatory requirements and achieve higher levels of support to businesses to ensure compliance with regulations while protecting customers.