Improve standards in your finance division

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What’s in this article: Automotive finance is coming under fresh scrutiny, so make sure your team is ready

Selling cars and financial products is the main aim of any dealership, whether it’s an independent business or part of a larger franchise. However, the huge variety of customer purchase options means that every firm needs to maintain the highest standards in its finance and insurance department. It’s an area coming into sharp focus as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) looks at the financial practices of the automotive industry – how it sells vehicles, the advice it gives to customers and how compliant it is with various regulations. Getting ahead in this area by making sure that your team meets the highest standards could pay dividends in the future. It might seem to be a relatively difficult area to address, with little centralised training available, but that doesn’t mean companies can’t keep team members up-to-date with the latest methods and ideas in automotive finance and insurance.

CPD is key

The Insurance Distribution Directive came into force around this time last year. It states that for a firm to be authorised or regulated by the FCA, each staff member needs to complete at least 15 hours of CPD training per year.

That may seem like a lot of hours away from the shop floor that staff could be using to make sales, but it’s only a little over an hour a month. It could improve the team’s overall knowledge, making everyone better salespeople, so it really should be seen as beneficial. Approaches to those 15 hours of CPD will vary considerably. For instance, Automotive Compliance uses an e-learning platform to keep staff updated.

Modules cover everything from an overview of the FCA and money laundering, to complaint handling and job-specific training. There are also specific modules for individuals such as sales people and directors. Fulfilling the 15 hours of CPD training a year should place staff and businesses in a stronger position because everyone will be more knowledgeable about the various products available and will therefore be able to explain things more clearly to the customer.

Harvest internal knowledge

Even if you don’t have a clear training programme, and bearing in mind the universal pressures that all businesses face when it comes to meeting key targets, there are a number of small things that all dealerships can do.

Most businesses will hold a daily or weekly sales meeting. This is your opportunity to extract knowledge from staff to share that understanding throughout the team. For example, if one person has a deeper understanding of PCP financing, they could give an overview of the topic and answer any questions from others within the team. It should mean that when a customer walks in, all staff members know what they’re looking to achieve with that customer, know what the sales process is and will then be able to deliver consistently. In turn, the customer should receive an adequate explanation of the finance product, so they know the relevant facts in order to make their decision.

Don’t be afraid to lose out

One of the biggest worries among business owners is losing staff after investing money in their development. Staff turnover can be high, especially in the sales department, but investing in team members gives them another reason to stay, rather than looking for pastures new in order to develop. Support is out there if you need it. Some apprenticeship programmes will cover much of this ground, and the IMI can direct you to the appropriate CPD programmes for other staff members.

Paul Speakman, Joint Managing Director at Automotive Compliance, was talking to James Scoltock

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