What is a Finance and Insurance (F&I) department?

The finance and insurance department, or ‘F&I’ department, at automotive dealerships is where the dealership builds their revenue streams by constructing deals with customers and selling additional products and services. These professionals play a direct role in the success and growth of the business and, when properly trained, can achieve incomes that easily pass $100,000, making it an excellent career investment.

Before investigating this potential career path, however, many people want to know exactly what a finance and insurance (F&I) department at a car dealership is. People interested in pursuing this particular career path often have not worked in car dealerships before, and therefore they want to learn more about the importance of this department and what exactly they would need to do on a day-to-day basis.

Here is what all interested professionals should know about the F&I department.

The role of the F&I department in the car-buying process

The F&I department is staffed with experienced professionals who have the training needed to understand all of the financial aspects of car buying. A quality F&I education includes a thorough understanding of how to interpret credit scores as well as how to structure and understand loans.

Remember that most people do not buy cars with cash. Instead, they rely on loans to allow them to finance the car that they want. Someone at the car dealership needs to have the training to understand the loan terms and make sure that it has been set up properly for the purchase of this particular car.

The F&I professional will also want to try and get the customer to finance their car directly through the dealership. This would make it easier for them to generate revenue from the car sale, as the income from loan payments will then directly benefit the dealership. For this reason, F&I professionals must know how to create deals that can try to compete with the offers the customer may have received through outside financing options.

In addition to the technicalities involved with the loans needed for the purchase, the F&I professional will also have a thorough understanding of the extra products that the car dealership offers. They will try to sell these extras to the customer as they pay for the car. These additional add-ons will include options such as extended service contracts, maintenance packages, or anti-theft precautions. The F&I professional, therefore, must know how each of these options offered by their particular dealership works, and how they benefit customers. Their goal is to help the customer buy the car they want, while also helping their dealership in the process.

Finally, the F&I professional will often be one of only a few people at the dealership who has the training needed to go through some of the final sale forms needed to actually complete the sale of the car. They can help answer customer questions and make sure that all of the paperwork is in order to complete the large purchase.

The value of the F&I department

The professionals who work in the F&I department play a critical role in the success of the dealership. With their understanding of the finances of the car buying process, constructing loans, and their work to sell additional products to customers, they have an immediate impact on the revenue of the dealership as a whole.

It is their job to know how to negotiate loan terms and create deals that not only help customers get the car they want, but also help the dealership secure the revenue they need to keep growing. Therefore, both dealerships and customers really count on F&I professionals to thoroughly understand their field.

The importance of good F&I training

Clearly, the F&I professional plays an important role in the sale of cars and the health of a dealership. A good F&I professional will help their dealership generate considerable income and bring them more customers. The F&I professional helps customers to connect with their preferred car and helps them see a path towards purchasing it. Therefore, car dealerships want to know that the F&I professionals they hire have the training needed to do their job well. They need to make sure that their finances are handled correctly to help them build their business.

Those interested in a career in the industry should look for a program that is properly licensed and has the experience of teaching students in the field already. A rigorous program should be selected, one that gives students hands-on experience and the practice they need to understand real-world scenarios. It is not a field that can be learned in a seminar or through a weekend class. Instead, students should be required to study hard and regularly demonstrate their knowledge through exams that will ensure they have mastered the material.

This type of rigor will help to demonstrate to the dealerships that the professional has the training needed to correctly navigate the loans and financing of car sales.

The Automotive Dealership Institute is the only licensed school for F&I professionals in the country, and it has worked for over 3 decades training professionals for the field. Through their rigorous training program, students spend several weeks in an actual classroom, learning the intricacies of the field so that they are prepared for their important future role within a car dealership. They get the chance to learn from other successful professionals so that they graduate fully prepared for their position.

The Automotive Dealership Institute is so confident in their educational program that they offer job placement assistance to students which includes help with interviewing and finding a position at a US dealership. They have placed professionals at car dealerships across the country, and car dealerships know that they can trust the graduates of ADI.