Women have proven to be highly successful in the F&I office, but few actually aspire to become finance managers. Why is that, and how can we change it? Not only does it benefit the dealership, but spending time in F&I can be the key to moving forward in any career.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the last 100 years have seen the majority of women in the workforce (52.8% in 1920 and 69.8% in 1950) occupying roles such as secretary, teacher, bookkeeper, nurse and “private household worker” — all admin, support or caregiver roles. Accordingly, women who work in dealerships are most commonly seen in admin or support roles. Despite a slight downturn in these numbers, it is still rare to see women in sales, F&I and leadership positions in dealerships.
Two common objections women have to the F&I office include the dealership culture, in which there is little representation of women leaders, and the hours, since F&I managers often work up to 15 hours a day, six days a week. Another barrier preventing women from entering F&I is that of imposter syndrome, a topic that has been more and more commonly discussed in recent years.
Imposter syndrome is “the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.” Women in all industries and careers can (and do) experience imposter syndrome. However, many of the skills required for admin and service roles translate directly to the F&I office, proving that women are qualified. To begin moving more women into F&I, we must address imposter syndrome: show women they belong, include them in management meetings, listen to their feedback and ideas, and encourage their professional growth and development.
More women in F&I can positively impact a dealership’s bottom line. According to Forbes, women are more likely to close a deal than their male counterparts, and they also tend to outperform them. Additionally, having a more diverse team helps you “better connect with your customers” because they represent a large portion of any dealership’s customer base, can provide different perspectives, and often have a natural ability to “build trust, nurture relationships, listen and provide recommendations” (Forbes). Without starting a battle of the sexes, suffice to say that women have a lot to offer in the field of F&I.
In addition to the contributions women can make in an F&I role, they can also derive many benefits. Along with various industry and dealership perks, a career in F&I can prepare you for almost any opportunity moving forward. It provides you with a management title and leadership experience; networking opportunities across many fields and industries; legal experience and familiarity with the CFPB, FTC, state and federal laws; the confidence to present complicated information to consumers; insight into and understanding of dealership operations and an understanding of how different teams integrate; as well as a thorough understanding of credit bureaus and credit reports.
This experience, in turn, proves to future employers that you are trustworthy (handling legal contracts and large sums of money), demonstrates your ability to lead and work with people, strengthens discipline and translates to a myriad of other industries: title and registration agencies, compliance and regulatory industries, risk management, insurance, product and training companies, real estate and more. The bottom line is, there’s no reason why women should not go into F&I. Don’t be afraid to pursue a career in this field — you can find great success in this role, and it will open doors and provide countless opportunities for your future.