A successful Group F&I Manager starts with having a passion for people

A passion for people, admin and of course cars, is what’s needed to be a good F&I, and if you have it in abundance, you are the best in die automotive industry.

23 Hannelie Laz1

This is the case with Hannelie van Zyl from the Lazarus Motor Group, who was awarded the title as the country’s top Group F&I Manager at the first ever Finance and Insurance (F&I) Awards hosted by Absa.

Not only is she the Group F&I at Lazarus overseeing all the F&Is in the company’s Ford, Mazda, Kia, BAIC, Honda and Jaguar Land Rover brands, but also the Key Individual (KI).

An F&I’s task is to facilitate the transactions between the dealership’s clients and the financial institution. The KI is responsible for establishing and directing all relevant policies and procedures in terms of the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) and FAIS and all other legislation, ensuring all legal requirements are fulfilled for each transaction.

Seen here are Colin Lazarus (Owner), Hannelie van Zyl (Group F&I Manager and Key Individual), Madelein Kruger (Marketing Manager) and Ross Lazarus (Financial Director).

“The award came as a total surprise to me, and I am honoured that my input over the years, as well as that of my team, was recognised at this level,” Hannelie tells Dealerfloor.

“My love for the process of enabling customers to purchase the vehicle they desire and can afford, began with my career at the then Bankfin many years ago at different branches and in various capacities.

“I really got into the nitty-gritty of things when I worked at a large car dealership, King Cars in what was then known as Port Elizabth, today Gqeberha. Here I had to learn everything required at dealership level and helped to establish the necessary policies and procedures,” says Hannelie.

“Without going into too much technical detail, you need to be registered with the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) and obtain a Financial Service Provider (FSP) number in order to provide a financial service to any client . This is legislated in the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act (FAIS) .

The F&I team: Mariska Behr (Assistant JLR), Melanie Viljoen (F&I Ford New), Simone Janssen (F&I Mazda and BAIC), Danielle Bester (Assistant Mazda, BAIC, Kia and Honda), Peet Potgieter (F&I Kia), Hannelie van Zyl (Group F&I and Key Individual), Lerichka Kruger (Assistant Ford New & Used), Bianca Biggs (F&I JLR and Honda) and Yasmin Vadia (F&I Ford Used).

“The constantly changing legislation around the FIC requirements on the one hand and the changing and competitive landscape in the automotive retail sector on the other, mean I have to stay focused and on top of everything all the time.

“Training and keeping my team abreast of this, mean we have regular training sessions. We also need to keep the sales teams involved as they bring in the potential customers to us for approval via all the above-mentioned processes. We all need to be on the same page to achieve our goals, she tells Dealerfloor.

“We have to fulfil strict requirements as F&Is, and I had to undergo even more intense training to be the dealership’s KI. All of these qualifications require examination and take time to achieve. At Lazarus, we are only two KIs, but each brand has its own F&I.”

Some of the Ford masterpieces at Lazarus Motors in the museum at the dealership.

Asked if takes a certain person to be an F&I, Hannelie says most definitely. “Although all our F&Is are trained in all the brands, each has specialised training in terms of what the added value services like insurance, service plans, etc entail.

“The F&I has to have a passion for the specific brand as he or she has to link up with the sales team, which requires more than just product knowledge. Enthusiasm goes hand in hand with knowledge, and customers realise that,” she says.

Hannelie says she has been with the Lazarus Motor Group since 2015 and it has been a wonderful ride since day one. “The Lazarus Motor Group is a family business established 66 years ago. Today it is run by Colin Lazarus, grandson of the founder, and his involvement, knowledge and commitment are something to behold. The rich history, support and dynamism at the dealership contribute to a great working environment. Ross Lazarus, Colin’s, is the Financial Director and will take Lazarus into the fourth generation.

“I consider the staff as my family and I realise that if someone is down or is experiencing a problem, it could have an effect on everything. I make a point to motivate, educate, train and contribute to the well-being of all my team members,” Hannelie concludes.

  • At the F&I Awards ceremony, the Lazarus Motor Group was also honoured with another prestigious accolade. The 2023 F&I Marketing Campaign of The Year silverware went to Madelein Kruger for a creative and successful marketing campaign, boosting awareness, customer engagement and sales.

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