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AFIP certification testing launches at CATA in March

November 18, 2010
Dealership F& I personnel can register now for testing to earn certification at the CATA by the Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals. The first AFIP review and testing dates are March 3 and 4. Self-study materials are sent to employees upon registration, so registering now would afford six weeks of preparation before the first tests. AFIP certification implies a technical competence and is considered "the MBA of the finance profession." The AFIP certification course is college-level review and instruction on the federal and state regulations that govern the F&I process. Staff who are AFIP-certified can generate dealership profit and dramatically reduce the chance of legal action in today's litigious environment; they are bound to a code of conduct that holds them accountable for their actions. 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 from every dealer. The final cost represents a $420 savings compared to AFIP prices charged by other state and metro dealer associations. CATA Chairman Art Kelly on Jan. 5 sent the association's dealer members a letter detailing the new AFIP certification and course registration forms. For more forms, call the CATA at 630-495-2282. "Staffing our F&I departments with capable employees should be considered another step on the road to transparency in the financing process," Kelly said. "With transparency, we can deflect the empty charges of late in the matter of dealer reserve. "Most customers don't understand financing, and that has caused misinterpretations that we have something to hide. When capable F&I departments can help our customers understand, we also help ourselves." Self-study materials include a lengthy booklet and six compact discs that can be listened to at the staffer's pace. Besides guiding personnel through the regulations maze, the certification course also helps F&I personnel sell products the department sells, by helping them understand the various customer benefits to promote. Certification tests pose 150 questions that must be answered in 200 minutes. For instance, in the section devoted to service contracts, a sampling of a true/false questions: "Mechanical Breakdown Insurance is a general term which describes insurance coverage, subject to a deductible, against the cost of parts and labor for the repair or replacement of specified major components of an automobile." (True) "A vehicle service contract that is deductible can be transferred to a subsequent owner of the vehicle as well as to another vehicle of equal value." (False) Among other matters reviewed: • Civil and criminal penalties for failing to file a Form 8300 for cash transactions exceeding $10,000, and the notion of voluntarily filing the form for transactions less than that amount but which appear suspicious. • Helping customers understand the nuts and bolts of loans-term, interest rate, APR-and how those factors determine loan costs. • Collecting and evaluating credit information, and what happens if credit is denied. David Robertson, executive director of the AFIP, said: "F&I is one of those unique occupations where stupidity will get you into as much trouble as dishonesty. Knowledge of the rules is essential."