Ally Financial and the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers, known as NAMAD, have partnered in an effort to promote financial literacy by providing auto dealers with a set of resources to further educate consumers as well as their dealer employees.
The “Guide to Being Wallet Wise” is being made available to dealerships by NAMAD and Ally. The free toolkit for use by dealers aims to drive increased knowledge of the vehicle financing process, as well as other key financial topics that consumers should know when making a significant financial decision.
This joint effort comes as debate heightens surrounding dealer responsibility within financing process.
Ally and NAMAD debuted the program Wednesday at NAMAD’s convention in Miami. Ally said for every NAMAD member dealer that signs up before July 18, the company will make a donation to Junior Achievement to advance financial education. The program will continue to be available at no cost to NAMAD dealers
An Ally spokeswoman said the program is not a direct response to the company’s $98 million consent order with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last December. She said Ally has been a supporter of advancing financial literacy for about a decade, and that education can be a powerful tool.
“This program is aimed at driving more transparency and consumer education on financial topics and the vehicle financing process, which we believe is a positive step,” said Susan Fitzpatrick, Ally spokeswoman.
The guide includes a brochure with tips on financing or leasing a vehicle, an Equal Credit Opportunity Act training course for dealership personnel, a social media component, and the option to host a consumer financial education class in the dealership. The consumer information in the Guide is based on Ally’s own financial literacy program Wallet Wise, which offers free courses on budgeting, credit, banking and investing, and auto financing.
Damon Lester, President of NAMAD, says auto dealers play a key role in helping consumers understand the vehicle financing process. He said becoming a financial literacy leader in their community provides NAMAD members additional opportunities to build and strengthen their relationship with customers
“We’ve always preached and advocated for consumer literacy,” Lester said. “This partnership with Ally provides us with a better vehicle, to do a mass hit, using our larger body of people, using our dealers their customers to be able to preach and teach the importance of financial literacy.”
Lester said NAMAD dealers would educate consumers who come to a dealership for anything, be it parts, sales, or the general ABC’s on how to finance a vehicle. Lester said he’d done a dozen or so radio interviews over the past year, specifically focused on the how to buy a car, and those interviews reinforced the fact that consumers are missing a wide gamut of knowledge about the car buying process.
“We always know we can negotiate the price of a car,” he said. “But knowing the do’s and don’ts , what you should be armed with, knowing what your Fico score, knowing your gross monthly salary — those little tidbits will take a consumer far, in helping them know what they can afford.”
He said NAMAD will continue to urge all consumers, both minority and non-minority about the importance of financial literacy and particularly, how to buy a vehicle.
NAMAD represents the 1,100 minority-owned dealerships in the nation.