During every 12 month period we carry out approximately 2000 monitoring visits of F&Is (Finance and Insurance Practitioners) around the country. It follows that over the past 10 years we have naturally gained a complete understanding as to exactly how the F&I works, and the tactics adopted by F&Is to sell their insurance products.
The old adage of ‘insurance is not bought, it is sold’ definitely applies to the F&I, and despite the large number of motor dealerships that believe that the F&I is only required to be licensed for intermediary services, it is very clear to us that those dealerships are sailing close to the wind when it comes to FAIS compliance.
The reports we produce for each representative after every visit embrace all aspects of corporate governance and the General Code of conduct. We comprehensively address the processes that the F&I follows during the selling process as well as the content of the written record of advice which the F&I hands to the client, which we demand includes full details as to why the products sold meet the client’s needs. We then score each F&I on a test-list basis and we provide a ‘clean bill of health’ only if the F&I scores a full 100%.
Over the years, a professional relationship has developed between the F&I and our compliance officers so, as expected, our compliance officers are frequently approached to provide information and guidance relating to TCF (Treating Customers Fairly).
We explain that ‘in a nutshell’ TCF is just a matter of selling the right product to the right person for the right reasons at the right time and at the right price. Sadly, this is much easier said than done, so we decided to compile a ‘handbook’ for F&Is which we have entitled “The F&I’s Guide to Treating Customers Fairly”. It is not long, and we have written it in easy-and-quick-to-read language.
In compiling it, we had to presume that every dealership has some form of ‘Treating Customers Fairly’ statement in place which sets out, in plain terms, how the dealership is meeting the ‘Standards of Conduct’ demanded by the financial sector regulator and is enabling its F&Is to work in an environment which is conducive to the fair treatment of customers. Whilst this may not be the case with the employer of every F&I that reads the handbook, it must be understood that the guide has been primarily aimed at our own motor clients, all of which are already a long way down the TCF road.
Although we address the ethical conduct expected of the F&I and the need to understand exactly how compliance can aid the selling process, the guide really concentrates on product design and selling methods.
The current economic environment is driving dealerships to work harder than ever before to remain competitive and profitable and whether the F&I likes it or not he/she is at the forefront of this drive. Dealerships that invest time in ensuring that their products ‘match’ the demands of their customers will find themselves with greater sales volumes and more satisfied customers because of proper product fit. The consequences for dealers and their insurance suppliers that neglect product innovation are dire: they will fail to get products out to their clients and will lose business, as well as market share.
Addressing these issues, together with the necessity to deliver high standards of service, forms the heart of the handbook. To view a copy online, please click here. To download a pdf copy, please click here.