"It's a high-burnout job," said Lycia Jedlicki, performance partner for 20 group operations at NCM Associates. "It's a lot of pressure. It's a lot of hours. With shrinking margins [on vehicle sales], the only thing left is F&I. If you don't produce, you're not going to survive."
F&I managers are also under stress to keep customers' deal structures transparent as regulators such as the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and state attorneys general keep dealerships' F&I practices under scrutiny.
"Saying the right thing at the right time has literally become a full-time job," Pugliese said. "I think everybody is afraid."
Most dealership staffers want to be compliant, but Pugliese questions whether they really know how. Atlantic Auto Group in West Islip, N.Y., has an in-house compliance officer who examines all the dealership's transactions. "If we spot something, we handle it ASAP," Pugliese said.
At Yark Automotive Group in Toledo, Ohio, F&I managers who leave before they have put in one year typically do so because they don't understand how much knowledge they need to do the job, said Finance Director DJ Supan.
F&I managers also can become frustrated when they feel they aren't being treated well by managers and colleagues.
A former F&I manager at an Illinois store who asked to remain anonymous said he left the dealership for a variety of reasons that add up to burnout. He made good money, he said, but it's "not worth it because of the way you're treated or viewed. You spend so much time there that you live there. There's no real reward."