•  71% say discussing preferred choice of paint colour is of same or greater importance
Dealers “need to make car finance as easy to understand as the more exciting elements of a car purchase”
Alphera partnering with the IMI to create new ‘F&I Accreditation Pathway’, to help dealers better engage buyers in transparent sale of finance products

ALPHERA Financial Services, BMW Group’s multi-award-winning independent motor finance division, has released new data highlighting the ambivalence that dealers must combat in the sale of car finance and insurance (F&I) products.

The UK-wide survey asked consumers to rank the importance of different aspects of the sales process relative to a detailed discussion of available finance options. The independent survey was conducted among more than 1,000 motorists across the UK, and not specifically BMW Group customers.

71% of UK car buyers believe being able to discuss their preferred choice of paint colour is of the same or greater importance than having a detailed discussion about potential finance options. 53% said the same about discussing the available selection of alloy wheels. 60% said being shown how to integrate their phone with their new car was more important or as important as discussing how they will finance their car.

Politeness of sales staff, it seems, is also more important for customers. 82% of UK car buyers believe the manners of sales staff are of the same or greater importance compared to having a detailed discussion about their finance options. That figure is 46% when it comes to being offered refreshments by dealer staff, and 88% for being able to take a test drive.

In seeking to improve standards across the industry and enhance transparency in the sale of car finance, Alphera is supporting a new accreditation scheme in partnership with the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI).

Spencer Halil, director of ALPHERA Financial Services, said: “Despite the long-term implications of making sound financial decisions, consumers evidently attach the same or greater importance to a host of other factors when transacting. For many buyers, car finance can be hard to get their heads around, so dealers need to make the subject as attractive and easy to understand as the more exciting elements of a car purchase.

“Sales staff need to be confident enough to engage customers in an open discussion around finance, and use their expertise to explain finance products in a fully compliant, transparent way. Our partnership with the IMI helps dealers speak the same language as customers, with the launch of new training programmes and accreditation schemes for F&I products.”

Steve Nash, CEO of the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), commented: “The IMI’s new finance and insurance accreditation framework has been developed in cooperation with dealers, manufacturers and finance companies like Alphera Financial Services. It helps sales staff to safeguard car buyers by providing them with relevant and correct information relating to motor finance, and give customers greater confidence in discussing car finance and insurance products.”

Alphera sees the IMI F&I Accreditation as a significant step towards establishing consistently high standards in the sale of finance products, helping dealers to improve customer satisfaction and confidence in the transaction process.

The ‘Developing F&I Excellence’ accreditation complements established Specialist Automotive Finance (SAF) programmes from the FLA, enabling a practical application of skills and knowledge. All participants will need to have passed the standard SAF competence test before completing the IMI F&I Accreditation.