The Association of Finance & Insurance Professionals (AFIP) satisfied a key tenet of its organizational charter with the introduction of professional designations for individuals who meet the educational and ethical standards established by the organization’s certification program. Two considerations dating back to the group’s inception served as the impetus behind our decision to adopt the designations this year.
First, founding members recognized that the demands of the F&I position were on par with other professional occupations that merit designations. According to Wikipedia, a “profession” is defined as “a vocation founded upon specialized educational training.” That makes a professional someone who “is characterized by, or conforms to, the technical or ethical standards of a profession.”
In 1989, the AFIP laid the cornerstone for the F&I profession with the launch of the AFIP Certified F&I Professional program. The in-depth working knowledge of state and federal regulations delivered by the AFIP curriculum more than qualifies as “specialized educational training.”
The continuing education program established high standards of knowledge and competence. To achieve certification, for instance, candidates must pass a proctored comprehensive exam with a score of 80% or higher. They must also sign and adhere to a personal accountability code of ethics.
Granted, success in the box also requires a mastery of conversion techniques, supported by product knowledge and the chutzpah to ask for the business, overcome objections and make the sale. However, these tasks are just part of the job description. The level of technical knowledge and ethical bearing you employ in the course of performing these tasks are what define you as a professional.
Second, founders of the association realized that for the professional designations to have any credibility, they had to be weighted in time and performance. With a quarter of a century as the benchmark, nearly 50,000 certified individuals have contributed to their profession’s gravitas, consistently exhibiting a high degree of professionalism and ethical bearing. And the AFIP has received only a handful of reports of its code of ethics being violated.
Accordingly, the AFIP has adopted the following designations, which follow its three-tiered certification hierarchy:
- Certified Professional in Financial Services (CPFS)
- Senior Certified Professional in Financial Services (SPFS)
- Master Certified Professional in Financial Services (MPFS)
Certification diplomas now carry these professional designations. All current AFIP certified members in good standing — individuals who have been certified within the last two years — may use the appropriate acronym after their names. For those with multiple credentials, the professional designation is secondary to academic designations.
Certified individuals employed by lenders and vendors may need permission from their employers before displaying the acronym. Individuals who fail to complete the organization’s ongoing education requirements may not use the professional designation.
On behalf of the automobile industry, the AFIP extends its congratulations to the thousands of men and women who laid the groundwork with their high degree of professionalism and continuing commitment to excellence and ethical conduct.
David Robertson is executive director of the Association Finance and Insurance Professionals. Email him at [email protected]