The National Automobile Dealers Association has designated the Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals' certification program as its official training and testing program for finance managers.
The program, developed 14 years ago, has certified at least 10 percent of the dealership finance managers in the United States. It has endorsements from state dealer associations in New Jersey, Wisconsin and Hawaii.
By supporting an established program instead of developing one,
NADA can respond more quickly to legislation, lawsuits and media reports that challenge dealers' finance practices, association officials say. The training covers law and ethics.
"We believe that we are capable of self-regulation," says Carl Ragsdale, COO of NADA's dealer operations division. "We don't need outside forces imposing regulations on dealers that are always well-meaning but perhaps aren't as effective in the marketplace as they are intended to be."
NADA is enlisting automaker support for the program. It is promoting the program among state and local dealership associations and soliciting suggestions from state attorneys general. NADA also is incorporating the training in its dealer academy.
The Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals is offering state and local dealer associations a workshop on its certification program. The associations will choose trainers.
"The basic course will be modified for the state and regional association-sponsored programs by adding the applicable state laws to the curriculum," says association executive director Dave Robertson.
The college-level course generally costs $670 per person. It includes a textbook, a six-part lecture series on compact disc and an exam.
The program "is not a panacea but a part of the puzzle in trying to improve that area of the dealership," says Kevin Mazzucola, executive director of the Automobile Dealers Association of Greater Philadelphia. "It can improve (the finance office) and set the bar higher."