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AFIP certification: A dealer’s first line of defense

November 22, 2010

Dealers nationwide increasingly pursue AFIP certification for their F&I employees. The Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals, based in Fort Worth, Texas, this year has certified about 1,500 F&I workers, a number equal to all of 2004.

 

A dealer who pays for study materials and the certification exam for F&I personnel demonstrates a concerted effort to ensure that his customers are handled ethically and within the bounds of the law. If a case for legal action unfolds, a plausible argument can be made that it was the act of a rogue employee—not a result of a deficiency in dealership policy, training or management. 

Certification exams are administered each month by CATA Learning University, at the association’s Oakbrook Terrace office. Applicants must correctly answer 120 questions on the 150-point test. However, the exam is rigorous; 10 percent to 15 percent of certification hopefuls fail the exam each year, said AFIP officials.

 

Since CATA Learning University began offering the exam in March, 57 of the 60 test-takers have passed. Call  847-953-6055 about AFIP testing on June 23 and 24. 

The CATA negotiated with the AFIP a tuition of $500 for all self-study materials and certification testing. For all personnel who earn certification, the CATA will rebate $250 to the dealership, to encourage full participation by every dealer. The final cost represents a $420 savings compared to AFIP prices charged by other dealer associations.

 

The AFIP certification program analyzes the state and federal laws that govern the F&I function. A mastery of the rules manifests itself in three ways. 

First, an AFIP-certified F&I person would not, out of ignorance, make an egregious error that would lead to lawsuits or news exposés involving the dealership.

 

Second, customers instinctively trust and respond positively to someone who demonstrates a command of her profession. And there is no area in which knowledge is more important than the laws that control the solicitation, processing and disclosure of vehicle funding and indemnification contracts.

 

Third, someone with a precise understanding of the rules knows boundaries. The certified F&I professional knows what’s illegal, but also is aware of opportunities that may exist to legally and ethically "wire" a marginal deal. Certification helps sell cars.

 

In addition to passing the college-level final exam, certified personnel must agree in writing to abide by the AFIP Code of Ethics, which states that the F&I practitioner is personally responsible for what transpires between the customer and the person behind the F&I desk.

 

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