Alphera Financial Services is urging PLC dealer groups and other automotive lenders to attain the IMI’s developing F&I excellence accreditation scheme.
Alphera has developed three IMI-backed Quality Assured Programmes (QAPs) aimed at F&I sales specialists with the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) to work as an additional accreditation to compliment the Finance and Leasing Association (FLA) SAF scheme.
Spencer Halil, Alphera director, told AM: “In terms of growth of the accreditation, it can’t just be limited to Alphera if it’s going to succeed.
"We’re really keen on other lenders and PLC dealer groups taking this and running with it and we’re happy to help in any way in terms of our experience through this process.
“This accreditation is in the interest of the wider industry and promoting professionalism.”
The QAPs are aimed at independent dealers, franchised dealership business managers and dealership sales staff responsible for selling car finance, as well as brokers and other funders.
However, it’s other funders and PLC dealer groups Halil thinks will be particularly important to help gain attention and critical mass for the new QAPs.
The scheme has been developed in cooperation with the IMI to match the organisation’s new finance and insurance accreditation framework.
Training is delivered by IMI-assessed individuals, and assessment is carried out by independent IMI assessors.
Halil said the reaction from the industry has been positive and that SAF took some years to establish itself, so he acknowledged that the new accreditation "won't change the world overnight".
However, he said the idea of introducing greater accreditation in the automotive finance industry fits in with the Financial Conduct Authority's (FCA) indication that it is looking to introduce a directory for checking the details of key individuals working in financial services.
The FCA’s aim is to help protect consumers and firms by making it easier to check whether individuals work for an authorised firm.
Halil made it clear that the accreditation is not in competition with SAF scheme. He said both schemes are supportive of each other.
All participants in Alphera’s scheme will need to pass and retain the standard SAF competence test on an annual basis before they can complete the accreditation.
Spencer said the QAPs differ from SAF in that it focuses on a practical application of skills and knowledge, to compliment SAFs theory based grounding.
Those that complete the new accreditation will be added to a publicly-searchable register, enabling customers to find out if individuals are qualified to provide advice in the purchase of F&I products.
Alphera conducted a survey in the first half of 2018 among 1,035 UK motorists. Of those surveyed, 79% said they would be more likely to transact a car purchase with a dealership salesperson who holds formal, industry-approved accreditation governing the sale of finance and insurance products.
Halil said: “The accreditation is the right way to counter negativity in the mainstream press about motor finance.
“A lot of us were frustrated by the reports last year but improving standards in the industry is the constructive way to respond to criticism.”