In its 2018 Business Plan, the FCA reiterated the fact that it will be undertaking further work on responsible lending, particularly the approach taken by motor finance lenders to assessing creditworthiness, including affordability.

In this environment, dealer sales staff must have the skills and knowledge necessary to properly qualify a customer’s needs and deliver the facts in a clear and transparent way to enable informed decision-making.

In seeking to improve standards across the industry and enhance transparency in the sale of car finance, Alphera has partnered with the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) to introduce a new accreditation scheme for finance and insurance (F&I) sales specialists.

 For Alphera, it was critical that its new accreditation scheme complemented the highly respected and established Specialist Automotive Finance (SAF) programmes from the FLA, enabling a practical application of skills and knowledge in addition to theoretical learning platforms.

All participants in Alphera’s new programme will, therefore, need to have passed and retain the standard SAF competence test on annual basis before they can complete the IMI F&I Accreditation. The SAF programme developed by the FLA is a well-established and highly respected qualification that, in Alphera’s view, everyone in the industry ought to have.

We see this joined up approach as a significant step towards establishing consistently high standards in the sale of finance products, with success measured in how other industry leaders embrace and support the idea of accreditation.

Adrian Dally, head of motor finance at the Finance & Leasing Association, recently said: “I have no doubt that our members consistently put the interests of the customer first – it simply makes good business sense.

“The value of training and accreditation lies in the opportunity for F&I professionals to hone skills and have their experience and expertise officially recognised. I would encourage everyone to strive for skills development and recognition of F&I expertise in the motor industry.”

Ultimately, F&I can be simple and clear. It is our collective role to help ensure that relevant staff have the confidence to present products properly. This ‘common standard’ approach will demonstrate to the FCA, and our shared customers, that the motor industry is worthy of its confidence.