Should I Become an Auto Finance Manager?
Auto finance managers, sometimes called F&I (finance and insurance) managers, work at automotive dealerships helping sales associates and customers find financing options for purchases. They must understand the sales and business practices of an auto dealership and be well-versed in all aspects of the loan and financing process.
The majority of auto finance managers work at least 40 hours per week. While the bulk of their working hours will likely be concentrated during the automotive shop's business hours, overtime in order to process financing applications is possible. Such finance managers work in an office setting and few physical demands and risks are associated with this career. Experience weighs highly when looking for a job, and education can also be an asset. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not obtain salary information for auto finance managers in particular, the salary information for sales managers in general is listed below. However, it is important to denote that entry-level positions will probably not be offering such a high salary. Moreover, such income levels will be more common once an individual gains experience and rises the ranks at the dealership they are employed at.
|Degree Level||High school diploma or equivalent; postsecondary training may be beneficial|
|Degree Field||Finance or related field|
|Experience||Varies; at least 1-2 years of experience in the automotive industry|
|Key Skills||Listening, verbal and written communication, time-management, critical-thinking, coordination, customer-service and management skills|
|Computer/Technical Skills||Ability to use accounting, financial analysis and other related software, knowledge of automotive parts and systems may be helpful|
|Salary (2014)||The median salary for all sales managers was $110,660 in 2014|
Sources: Job listings from employers (November 2012), ONET Online
Sources: BLS- Occupational Employment Statistics- Sales Managers
Step 1: Get a Job at an Automobile Dealership
There are several pathways to becoming an auto finance manager. Entry-level positions in the automotive dealership business typically require the minimum of a high school diploma. A job as an auto salesperson is an ideal entry-level point that helps prospective managers obtain experience as well as gain an introduction to automotive sales and financing. New sales employees usually receive a combination of on-the-job training, mentoring and classroom training.
Step 2: Pursue Postsecondary Education
Although not required by all employers, postsecondary programs in automotive finance management or a related area can be beneficial. Some examples of coursework covered in such programs include dealership accounting, finance and insurance management, business law, and automotive marketing. Prospective students can choose to enroll in just a few courses or complete a degree program and earn an associate's degree or bachelor's degree in automotive marketing and management.
- Consider online training. Postsecondary educational programs that provide training in preparation for a position as an automotive finance manager may not be available in all areas. Aspiring candidates may want to consider the option of pursuing their studies online. The Automotive Dealership Institute (ADI) offers prospective students online training programs.
Step 3: Become an Auto Finance Manager
Since many auto dealers require prospective F&I managers to have previous dealership experience, having worked within auto sales or a similar entry-level job is a good stepping stone to a position as an auto finance manager. With this experience, as well as knowledge of business and financing, individuals can apply their training to an auto finance managerial position. Common duties in this career include working with financial lenders and selling insurance programs. There is also room for further career advancement to positions such as finance director, general sales manager, and general dealership manager.