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EFG Companies and Northwood University Announce F&I Innovator of the Year Competition Judges


DALLAS, Texas – EFG Companies, the innovator behind the award-winning Hyundai Assurance program, together with Northwood University, today announced the judging panel in the 2016 F&I Innovator of the Year competition. Representing all automotive brands spanning across the country, the 8-member blue-ribbon judging panel brings extensive experience and expertise in understanding consumer drivers in the F&I space to the competition. For more information on the competition, visit http://bit.ly/Inn0v8te

The judges will select a winning F&I product idea from one of six teams currently competing in the F&I Innovator of the Year competition, which will conclude Friday, November 11. The winning team and product will be announced on Thursday, December 8 at Northwood University.

2016 Competition Judges

Judge Title Auto Group/Company
Alvin Heggs Dealer Principal Superstition Springs Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram
Kurt Hornung Vice President of F&I Operations AutoNation, Inc.
John Kane Co-Founder Empire Dealer Services
Tiger Lester Regional Finance and Insurance Director Group 1 Automotive
Anthony Patterson Vice President of Operations Patterson Auto Group
Claudia Sands Director of Financial Services Penske Automotive Group
Fernando Somoza Executive Manager Central Houston Cadillac, Central Houston Nissan, & Baytown Nissan
John Stephens Senior Vice President Dealer Services, EFG Companies

“The judges selected for this panel have developed reputations as change agents within the automotive industry on both regional and national levels,” said John Pappanastos, President and CEO, EFG Companies. “Their ability to raise the bar in innovation, backed by their years of experience, gives them the unique ability to determine what F&I product has the most potential to benefit consumers, dealerships, and the industry as a whole.”

About the competition

The F&I Innovator of the Year competition is designed to foster breakthrough ideas in the F&I space. It includes six competing teams from Northwood University that have been tasked with developing a business case for a new F&I product. The students must research, rationalize and demonstrate market viability of their new product, and its potential to facilitate F&I product sales in franchise dealerships.

At the conclusion of the competition, EFG Companies will award the winning team $25,000. The company will also develop the winning F&I product for the retail automotive marketplace, and return a percentage of the product’s revenues to Northwood University.

Visit http://bit.ly/Inn0v8te to learn more about the F&I Innovator of the Year Contest, watch this year’s Innovator video submissions, and follow @EFG_NWInnovator on Twitter for the latest competition news.

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EFG Companies and Northwood University Announce Student Competitors and F&I Mentors in 2016 F&I Innovator of the Year Competition


DALLAS, Texas – EFG Companies, the innovator behind the award-winning Hyundai Assurance program, together with Northwood University, today announced the student competitors and F&I mentors participating in the second annual F&I Innovator of the Year competition. Vying for $25,000 in prize money, this year’s 18 contestants hail from Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. For more information on the competition, visit http://bit.ly/Inn0v8te

The credit-based competition pits six teams of Northwood’s automotive students to conceptualize and build a new F&I product. Each team is mentored by an F&I director, and the competing teams develop a business case for their new F&I product that incorporates industry research, market viability, and the product’s potential to facilitate F&I product sales in franchise dealerships. The teams will also keep weekly, YouTube video diaries of their progress, challenges and breakthroughs.

“The mentors’ industry experience is invaluable in guiding the competitors on the real-world challenges facing dealerships today,” said John Pappanastos, president and CEO of EFG Companies. “From changing consumer purchasing behaviors, to increased FTC and CFPB compliance oversight, and a call for enhanced transparency, these mentors will impart a wealth of knowledge that spurs innovation among the students.”

The teams and mentors include:

Team Name Team Members/Hometown Mentor/Dealership
Angular Momentum Charles Elledge, Coal City, IL
Charles Wheatley, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
Harry Collins, Franklinville, NJ
Ben Hagan
Bob Moore Auto Group
Oklahoma City, OK
Envision Alex Rogers, Lancaster, PA
Ali Nasrallah, Dearborn, MI
Zach Peters, Philadelphia, PA
Caleb Hargreaves
Hanlees Auto Group
Davis, CA
Groundbreakers James Skop, Petoskey, MI
Tori Mason, Detoit, MI
Zach Luchenbill, Pinkney, MI
Sam Levin
Nyle Maxwell Auto Group
Austin, TX
Triple Clutch Amanda Poriefka, Midland, MI
Harrison Ervin, Chesaning, MI
Mollie Arnold, Lowell, IN
Dena Moore
Davis-Moore Auto Group
Wichita, KS
Team Turbo Cody Davidson, Green Bay, WI
Kendra Taylor, Flushing, MI
Mark Ruhle, Royal Oak, MI
Greg Grimes
Rohrich Auto Group
Harrisburg, PA
Team Vigilance Alec Bond, Lindin, MI
Houston Huff, Tuscon, AZ
Lucas Myhre, Austin, TX
Craig Drew
Central Maine Motors Auto Group
Waterville, ME

Each year, Northwood selects the best and brightest students from the Automotive Marketing and Management Program to participate in the F&I Innovator of the Year competition. To be eligible for participation, each student must maintain a 3.0 GPA, and hold internships or extracurricular activities in the automotive industry.

The competition runs through November 11, 2016, when a panel of leading dealer principals and EFG executives will judge each team’s business case. EFG Companies will award the winning team $25,000, and will develop the winning F&I product for the retail automotive market. The company will also return a percentage of the product’s revenue to Northwood University.

Visit http://bit.ly/Inn0v8te to learn more about the F&I Innovator of the Year Contest, watch this year’s Innovator video submissions, and follow @EFG_NWInnovator on Twitter for the latest competition news.

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EFG Companies and Northwood University Launch 2nd-Annual F&I Innovator of the Year Competition


DALLAS, Texas – EFG Companies, the innovator behind the award-winning Hyundai Assurance program, together with Northwood University, today announced the launch of their second annual F&I Innovator of the Year Competition. Held during the fall semester each year, this competition leverages the out-of-the box thinking of today’s Gen Z college students, coupled with F&I industry leaders’ insight, to boost the F&I industry’s focus on innovation. Visit http://bit.ly/Inn0v8te to learn more about the contest, last year’s winners and the upcoming launch of the winning 2015 product.

“The automotive industry is going through a period of extensive change,” said John Pappanastos, President and CEO of EFG Companies. “Consumer expectations and buying habits have shifted towards a more value-conscious and long-term mindset. The Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are continuing to focus on transparent auto lending practices. Manufacturers are undergoing a shift with the rise of electric vehicles, connected cars and ride sharing services. Each of these aspects of a dealership’s operations is in a mutually effective relationship with F&I. As new, young talent has brought significant advancements to other areas of the auto industry, it makes sense for the F&I industry to avail itself with new ideas from fresh minds, as well.”

The Annual F&I Innovator of the Year Competition pits six teams of Northwood’s junior and senior automotive students against one another to conceptualize and build a new F&I product, while earning course credit. With an F&I director as a mentor and guide, the competing teams develop a business case for their new F&I product that incorporates industry research, market viability, and the product’s potential to facilitate F&I product sales in franchise dealerships. The teams will also keep weekly, YouTube video diaries of their progress, challenges and breakthroughs.

“This competition puts Northwood University students at the forefront of the innovation that will forever change the dealership landscape,” said Keith Pretty, President of Northwood University. “Through this competition, our students have the opportunity to provide a never-before-seen solution to current dealership challenges and drive dealership profitability. This exemplifies our philosophy of hands-on learning and developing the leadership skills and talent necessary to bring the automotive industry into the future.”

A panel of leading dealer principals from across the nation and EFG executives will judge the business case competition in late November, and crown the newest champion in early December. The winning team will take home $25,000, and more importantly, EFG Companies will develop the winning F&I product and launch it to the retail automotive marketplace. The company will donate a percentage of the profits from the sale of the product back to Northwood University.

Last year’s winning team, Quantum Integration, applied consumer research, industry and mentor input and millennial sensibilities to create an F&I product for the connected car. Their product utilizes a mobile application to provide consumers a convenient way to stay current on vehicle maintenance, prevent theft, or recover their vehicle. EFG Companies will roll out the product in Q4 of 2016. Richie Durso, from Quantum Integration, had this advice for this year’s competitors, “Think of real world problems and see how you can solve them to make people’s lives easier. Also, remember that your product can be a service and not just a tangible item. Even if you don’t win, the experience is priceless!”

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Compliance Summit Heads West


Welcome to the inaugural Las Vegas Compliance Summit! Our series of regional events has made stops in Miami, Chicago, Austin and Tampa, and we can’t wait to share our program with you here at Paris Las Vegas.

Compliance Summit was designed to deliver a crash course in federal regulations and enforcement actions and help you build sustainable sales and F&I processes without sacrificing productivity or profitability. If that sounds like a tall order, it should, but our speakers know how to get it done. Here’s what we have in store:

Welcome Address

Our first speaker is Andy MacKay, executive director of the Nevada Franchised Auto Dealer Association (NFADA). He is a fourth-generation Nevadan who previously served as chairman of the Nevada Transportation Agency and as a partner in several private enterprises. MacKay is charged with protecting the interests of more than 100 new-car dealers in his state, and we are grateful that he has agreed to share his thoughts and kick off our event.

F&I Products, Regulators and the Presidential Election

Attorney and compliance expert Aaron Lunt of The Warranty Group will touch on a number of hot-button issues in his opening keynote address. He believes increased compliance and regulation is the most significant pressure point for dealers today, and he will explain the roles federal agencies and state attorneys general — and, yes, even our next president — will play in shaping the compliance landscape in the years ahead.

The Buck Stops Here: Dealers, Compliance and Enforcement

Few compliance experts command as much respect as Terry O’Loughlin, a former regulator with the Florida attorney general’s office who now serves as director of compliance for Reynolds and Reynolds. He will explain why dealers, not managers nor staff, bear the onus of compliance, and how having the right policies, tools and best practices in place is the best way to protect your operation.

Knowledge Is Power

Our first panel session will be led by compliance expert and attorney Michael Maledon and staffed by Bob Balak of Compli, Alpha Warranty’s Darin Ramos,  Steve Roennau of EFG Companies, and Timbrook Automotive Group’s Dina Wilson. Maledon and his experts will sort through the complex maze of rules and regulations to identify and focus on the best practices dealers are using today to keep up with changes and withstand scrutiny.

Luncheon Address

Our luncheon speaker is Jim Radogna, a San Diego-based compliance expert and trainer. Before founding Dealer Compliance Consultants, he served as compliance officer for a large auto group, the apex of a 15-year retail career that also included roles in F&I and sales management. Radogna will offer his views on the state of dealer preparedness and discuss compliance issues unique to the Western states.

Compliance Traps Your Store MUST Avoid

Attorney Jim Ganther of Mosaic Compliance Services is a dealer advocate and a Compliance Summit mainstay. His address will cover the common mistakes made by dealers in a highly regulated environment, how to avoid them, and how to train managers and staff to ensure your sales and finance processes remain up to code.

Leadership, Teamwork and Accountability

I have the honor of leading our second panel discussion, which will focus on the individual roles owners, managers and staff — and, in particular, your appointed compliance officer — play in protecting your dealership and your customers. I will be joined by Justin Gasman, the award-winning finance director at McCaddon Cadillac Buick GMC in Boulder, Colo., and compliance experts Michael Tuno and Max Zanan of ARMD Resource Group and Total Dealer Compliance, respectively.

The Paper Trail: A Dealer’s Best Defense Witness

Compliance expert and trainer Gil Van Over, founder and president of gvo3 & Associates, will take the stage to discuss your documentation program — or lack thereof. In a sales and finance process that requires the customer to sign their name 80 times or more, you need to establish and enforce a set of rules that can serve as a defense against litigation claims and government inquiries. With your operation on the line, every signature counts, and consistency is the key to your paper trail.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Our final panel discussion will be helmed by United Development Systems (UDS)’s Brian Crisorio, who will be joined by Erika Ahern of CNA National, Doug Fusco of Dealer Safeguard Solutions, F&I Express’ Brian Reed, and Iris Spiegel of Miller Automotive Operations. This esteemed group will turn our discussion from the theoretical to the practical, detailing the simple, actionable processes and controls dealers are implementing in F&I offices nationwide.

Is It Compliant? 

Day One ends with a bang as our master of ceremonies, Bob Harkins of American Guardian Warranty Services, will facilitate “Is It Compliant?,” an open-forum discussion among Compliance Summit speakers and attendees. This is your chance to pose your toughest questions to our experts and share the challenges you have faced in your dealership and market. So don’t hold back, and remember: Compliance Summit is your event!

Certified Automotive Compliance Specialist Review and Exam

Day Two brings your opportunity to earn Certified Automotive Compliance Specialist status following the successful completion of a four-hour review session and a satisfactory score on the exam that follows.

The review session is divided into two parts: Part 1 runs from 8:00 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. and will cover such topics as ethics, vocabulary, Reg Z and M, adverse actions, ECOA, FCRA, credit applications and more. After a break, Part 2 starts at 10:00 a.m. and ends at noon; this session will include Magnusson-Moss, the Used Car Rule, Red Flags, Safeguards, OFAC, Unfair, Deceptive or Abusive Acts and Practices (UDAAP) and more.

After a half-hour lunch, the exam itself will begin at 12:30 p.m. and end at 2:00 p.m. But the fun doesn’t end there.

Industry Summit

Your Compliance Summit registration also grants you full access to Industry Summit, the auto retail and finance industry’s premier training event. You can drop in on sessions covering topics ranging from needs discovery and objection-handling to lender relations, the used-car market correction and everything in between. Tour the exhibit hall, take advantage of the free meals and join us for evening receptions.

I am so happy you have decided to join us for Compliance Summit. We take great pride in our event and we have been encouraged by all the positive reviews, phone calls and emails that followed our first four conferences. I hope you take full advantage of everything this week has to offer.

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Maledon Joins Compliance Summit Roster, Will Lead Rules and Regs Panel


LAS VEGAS — Attorney and compliance expert Michael Maledon will serve as moderator for a panel discussion devoted to rules and regulations at the upcoming Compliance Summit, organizers announced Tuesday. The two-day conference will begin on Monday, Aug. 29, at Paris Las Vegas as part of the annual Industry Summit.

Maledon’s panel will include Bob Balak, director of sales for national accounts for Compli, Darin Ramos, vice president of business development for Alpha Warranty Corp., and Steve Rounneau, vice president of compliance for EFG Companies.

“With its maze of laws and regulations, retail automotive has become as complicated as ever,” Maledon said. “Compliance Summit serves as an opportunity to move beyond the buzzwords to discuss practical, workable solutions. Our goal will be to identify and focus on best practices that can be successfully implemented into a dealer’s workflow.”

The panel, “Knowledge Is Power,” will begin at 11:25 a.m. on Monday, immediately following “The Buck Stops Here: Dealers, Compliance and Enforcement,” a featured presentation by attorney and former regulator Terry O’Loughlin.

“Following Terry is no small task, but I am confident Michael and his panelists can handle it,” said David Gesualdo, show chair and publisher of Auto Dealer Today and F&I and Showroom. “They are experts in their field, they are the ideal translators for lawmakers, and they will have our undivided attention.”

Compliance Summit attendees are also invited to attend any Industry Summit session and sit for the Certified Automotive Compliance Specialist exam, both for no additional charge. To register for Compliance Summit and the exam, click here. For more information, including sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, contact David Gesualdo via email hidden; JavaScript is requiredor at 727-947-4027.

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EFG Companies Names Steve Roennau as Vice President of Compliance


DALLAS, TX – EFG Companies, the innovator behind the award-winning Hyundai Assurance program, announced today the appointment of Steve Roennau as Vice President of Compliance, reflecting the company’s ongoing mission of driving operational compliance for its retail dealership clients.

Roennau brings a 30-year history of driving bottom-line results in automotive F&I, sales and product management, giving him strategic insight into the compliance hurdles facing both dealers and lenders. His experience includes compliance consulting and training/operational development for Chrysler’s Five Star initiative, Chrysler Capital, Santander Consumer USA, Hyundai, General Motors, Ford, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, and numerous dealer groups throughout the country. He is an AFIP Senior Certified Professional in Financial Services, and has conducted numerous training courses.

“Today’s dealers are facing a much greater level of compliance oversight, affecting everything from finance margins to advertising practices,” said John Pappanastos, President and CEO of EFG Companies. “Dealers need forward thinking partners who can successfully navigate the myriad of changes on local, state and federal levels. With Steve leading our compliance initiative, we are in a strong position to stay ahead of upcoming changes and proactively prepare our clients. In 2014, EFG’s dealer clients rated compliance as one of EFG’s top three areas of performance. In 2016, we expect Roennau to raise the bar for our clients and the industry.”

“At EFG, we are committed to facilitating the highest levels of operational compliance for our dealer partners,” said Roennau. “Our very progressive work will provide our clients with a sophisticated analysis of their current compliance procedures, and prepare them for upcoming changes that will enhance customer service, compliance alignment and increased profitability.”

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