F&I chiefs: A pink slip in your future?

Donna Harris covers retail issues for Automotive News
Attention, finance and insurance managers: Your job outlook is iffy.

That's one conclusion I drew from a dealer panel presenting at the recent National Automotive Finance Association conference in Ft. Worth, Texas. NAFA is a trade association representing subprime auto lenders, those who serve risky borrowers.

When the panel started taking questions from the audience, one of the attendees asked whether or not the F&I office had a solid future.

The response? At best, all three dealers on the panel thought the future was uncertain because of slim profit margins. They figured the F&I manager's role could be handled by the sales force or a sales manager.

A dealership really only needs a specialist in F&I to handle a large-volume subprime finance business, because the clientele requires so much hand-holding, the dealers said.

So specializing in the riskiest customers these days is your safest bet.