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What is the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA)?
The FLA is the leading trade body for the motor finance, asset finance and consumer credit industries in the UK. Last year, FLA member finance companies provided £110 billion to consumers and businesses, including £37 billion for the purchase of vehicles. Over 80% of all consumer new car sales are currently paid for using finance from FLA member finance companies.
What is Specialist Automotive Finance (SAF)?
The FLA introduced Specialist Automotive Finance (SAF) in 2007 to help raise the standard of car finance information provided in showrooms for the benefit of car buyers. SAF is entirely funded by FLA member finance companies who want to increase confidence in car finance.
What is the SAF competence test and a ‘SAF expert’?
The SAF competence test is an annual test aimed at all customer-facing staff in motor dealerships. The online test consists of 60 challenging multiple-choice questions and must be completed within 60 minutes. The system is simple to take and will help staff to boost your knowledge of car finance products and the regulation that surrounds its sale. A ‘SAF expert’ is someone who has passed the SAF competence test. Individuals who successfully pass the SAF Competence Test will be able to download a Certificate of SAF Competence. The SAF certificate helps reassure car buyers that they are receiving expert information on car finance. The ‘SAF Expert’ logo can only be used by someone with a valid SAF certificate.
Why is SAF and the SAF Competence Test needed?
Ever-changing regulation means that staying abreast of requirements can be challenging for dealerships, particularly if there is high staff turnover. The SAF competence test helps firms and their staff keep updated on the latest finance products and regulation, and helps firms to identify any further training needs for their staff. In turn, consumers can be confident that they are dealing with a dealership whose staff have attained a consistent level of knowledge on car finance.
Will I be charged for taking the SAF competence test?
No. FLA members believe that improving consumer confidence in car finance is a shared challenge for the retail and motor finance industries, and fund SAF so that it can remain free of charge to dealers and their staff.
How will dealer staff benefit from taking the test and what does it mean for customers?
Passing the SAF test will be a real advantage. The SAF certificate provides recognition of their professional standards and will help give customers confidence in the quality of information received. The SAF competence test will help dealerships to improve customer perceptions of car finance and increase their confidence in showroom information. A positive perception of car finance and its benefits means customers are less likely to have organised their finance before they visit the showroom and will be more receptive to the information provided by ‘SAF Experts’. Improved technical knowledge amongst staff and better communication of the benefits of car finance will improve customer satisfaction. In turn, increased customer loyalty will benefit all aspects of dealer performance.
What is ‘SAF Approved’?
Once all of a dealer’s eligible staff have passed the SAF test, then the dealer can apply to the FLA to become ‘SAF Approved’. SAF Approved recognises those dealers who have voluntarily committed to putting all of their staff through the SAF test to help boost knowledge levels within their business. Dealers who become ‘SAF Approved’ are sent a welcome pack by the FLA to promote their new status to their customers. The welcome pack includes SAF certificates, stickers and a wall plaque. SAF Approved dealers are also added to the FLA’s dealer directory where car buyers can search for their nearest showroom.
What happens if customers have a complaint or are not satisfied with a ‘SAF Approved’ dealer?
When applying to the FLA to become ‘SAF Approved’, dealers make a commitment to adhere to the SAF Guidance Note. The Guidance Note asks dealers to act fairly, reasonably and responsibility when selling finance to customers. The dealer’s commitment to the Guidance Note is captured on an annual compliance statement. SAF and SAF Approved is audited by the FLA and its member finance companies. If the FLA receives a complaint from a customer regarding a dealer participating in SAF, the FLA and the associated finance company will undertake a full investigation. An investigation may result in a dealership losing their SAF and SAF Approved status, and further action may be taken by the associated finance company.
Do dealership staff have to take the SAF Competence Test?
No, the SAF test is entirely voluntary.
Which staff should take the test?
The test is aimed at all customer-facing staff in motor dealerships. This means: Sales Executives; Sales Managers; Business Managers; F&I Managers; and Dealer Principals.
What questions does the SAF Competence Test ask?
Questions are based upon finance products (e.g. Hire Purchase, PCP, Operating Lease) and regulation surrounding the sale of motor finance (e.g. CONC, Data Protection Act). The SAF test syllabus is available here and on the ‘What is SAF’ page. The SAF test is not designed to teach dealerships staff how to sell finance.
How do I prepare for the SAF competence test?
Reference material is available to dealerships that do not have access to alternative motor finance training. For more information on preparing for the test please speak to the SAF Competence Test administrator within your Dealer Group. If your Dealer Group does not have an administrator then the company which provides your motor finance will be able to provide further information. It is recommended that dealership staff should also view the syllabus for the SAF Competence Test under ‘Knowledge’.
How do I take the SAF Competence Test?
Each company requires a ‘master administrator’ who must register the company by clicking on the 'Register' link above. Once the company is registered, the administrator can assign a User ID and Password to individual staff to access the test and set-up showrooms.
What if I have problems accessing the Test?
If you are having problems accessing the SAF test, then you should speak to your company’s master administrator. To access the SAF test you require a User ID and Password which will be provided to you by your company’s administrator. If you do not know who your administrator is then speak to your direct manager. If your dealer group does not have an administrator then one must be assigned. For any technical support on the test, please call Proficiency Solutions on 0344 543 1149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How long is the Certificate of SAF Competence valid for?
Once someone has passed the SAF test, a certificate is valid for 12 months. The expiry date is printed on the certificate. Candidates will receive an email reminding them to retake the SAF test one months before their certificate is due to expire.
What if I am locked out of the SAF Competence Test?
Everyone has three attempts to pass the SAF test. If you fail after two attempts, we recommend that you speak to your manager/training manager before your third and final attempt. If you have been locked out after a third failed attempt then you should contact your company’s master administrator (see above for further information).