Even though the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau no longer regulates auto finance as aggressively as it did a few years ago, dealership compliance hasn't hit the back burner. But as dealers work harder to turn a profit, striking the right balance between compliance objectives and profit goals could become more challenging.
"I don't think compliance is brushed under the carpet," said Gerry Gould, president of F&I training company Gerry Gould & Associates. "Everybody wants to be compliant, especially today, with customers getting the information at ease."
Still, in the middle of this decade, compliance was much more of a buzzword. In 2014, the National Automobile Dealers Association rolled out a policy recommendation that dealerships adopt a set method to determine dealer reserve — the retail margin that stores earn for arranging a loan. In 2015 and 2016, compliance was the overarching theme of conferences and conventions and the center of dealers' business conversations.
"They were running to their agent partners; they were running to NADA; they were running to all the compliance companies out there," said Gould. "In 2019, it's not an afterthought, but it's not the first thing on a dealer's mind as it was in 2016."
Today, profit is a bigger buzzword. Some fear that, as dealership profits continue to narrow, dealers' attention may turn away from compliance as they put more emphasis on reducing costs and creating new profit centers.