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Why I Became a CLP

Johnnie Johnson, CLP, from Kuwait

This is the second in a series about the Certified Lease Professional program, explaining why individuals decided to become a CLP, the process, and their reaction to the knowledge and other benefits gained. Mr. Johnson was one of the early "educators" and "proctors"

of tests:

Sorry for the delay in answering your e-mail, but have been attending the Euromoney World Leasing Conference (this year held in Dubai, UAE). Great conference!. I had the privilege of being the Keynote speaker for the conference, as well has presenting a day long workshop on Islamic leasing. The conference included representatives from approximately 35 different countries around the world. Sudhir Amembal was the Chairman for the event, and as always, it was a pleasure to share the podium with him. Sudhir commands great respect in the world of International leasing.

To answer your questions regarding the education program for the CLP. In 1997, I became involved in discussion at United Association of Equipment Leasing (UAEL) centered on the need for additional education opportunities in the leasing industry, specifically as they related to the Certified Leasing Professional (CLP) program. The CLP program was at that time under the sponsorship of UAEL. While The Leasing Professionals' Handbook was available through UAEL as a reference and study resource, it was somewhat outdated, and was not comprehensive as to the "Body of Knowledge" that was required to prepare for the CLP exam.

At this time there was a recognized need within UAEL for an updating of the CLP exam, for defining the "Body of Knowledge" required for competency as a CLP, and for re-writing The Leasing Professionals' Handbook. In early 1998, I had sold all my interests in my leasing company, and was doing lease brokerage and consulting. I made a proposal to the UAEL Board to do an update of the CLP exam and to develop and write the "Body of Knowledge". The proposal was accepted, and I proceeded to do the work required.

The exam update was limited-that is it involved only removing/rewriting the ambiguous questions and the removing or addition of a few other questions needed to bring the exam up to date. This work "cleaned-up" the exam, and extended the then-current exam's useful life. The CLP exam, of course, has been updated a number of times since then.

I also developed and documented the "Body of Knowledge". Simultaneously, discussions were ongoing about how to best deliver this knowledge to prospective CLP candidates. These discussions resulted in the formation of the Institute for Leasing Professionals under the sponsorship of the UAEL. I was asked to serve as the Dean of the Institute, and to develop a curriculum (based on the "Body of Knowledge") for classroom presentation. I was also asked to develop a schedule of classes to be presented around the U.S.

We used two approaches in developing the class schedule. One was to schedule a class in a major metropolitan area, essentially with UAEL as the sponsor. Our second and main, effort, however, was to find a Corporate sponsor for the class - A leasing company/bank that would provide the facilities and a minimum number of participants. Both approaches were used successfully, but the corporate sponsorship worked the best.

Financially, expenses connected with the class were covered, then, for my efforts as the organizer and instructor, I received a percentage of the net revenues generated. UAEL received the rest, and provided support as to registrations, disseminated of material, etc. The program was never meant to really "make money", but was designed just to pay all the costs. At only $800 for a registration fee, the class was a real bargain. Discounts were also given for multiple registrations, and for participants from the corporate sponsors.

The classes were typically 4 days in length, with actual classroom time of at least 8 hours each day. It was a very intensive class, and comprehensively covered the entire body of knowledge required as a base for the CLP exam (the presentation involved nearly a thousand power-point slides). The classes were held all around the country. In most of the classes, the CLP exam was scheduled for the day following (or sometimes two or three days following) the end of the class, and probably 90% or more of the class participants ended up taking the exam at that time. Usually, I also acted as the proctor for the exam-although where there were schedule conflicts, other CLP's would from time to time act as proctor.

Mini classes were also presented in connection with UAEL events and conferences. These were essentially 1 day review session on the CLP "Body of Knowledge". As you can imagine, these classes were just a superficial covering of the curriculum. Typically, extra time was spent on areas where there were historic problems with understanding the material. The Institute was also involved in other education efforts, and presented education on other subjects related to leasing on a regular basis.

The schedule was, at times, very hectic, often with classes scheduled week after week. Personally, that meant I was often traveling for several weeks at a time, giving a class and exam in a different city each week.

The program continued until late 1999, when I ended up in Kuwait and was no longer available to do the instructing. I believe there was some activity after I left, but it was limited. The CLP Foundation was already under discussion at that time, and eventually the Institute for Leasing Professionals and all of the material I developed was folded into the CLP Foundation. For example, the CLP "Body of Knowledge" I developed is published on the CLP Foundation website, virtually unchanged from my original version. The Leasing Professionals' Handbook was updated and re-written under the auspices of the CLP Foundation, and is available as The Certified Lease Professionals' Handbook through the CLP Foundation.

Personally I found these efforts with the CLP program and the Institute for Leasing Professionals very rewarding. It was a pleasure to share the knowledge that I had gained from actually running a leasing company and being involved in the industry for nearly 20 years. I loved the teaching, and fortunately, have been able to continue sharing my experience and knowledge, both in the classroom and out, through my current activities in Kuwait.

The value of the knowledge gained by the students who participated is really incalculable. The experience level of the students ranged from the seasoned profession to a few who had just started in the industry-and who were not eligible to take the CLP exam, but who were hoping to enhance their knowledge. Without fail, however, even the seasoned professionals walked away with additional understanding of leasing and the industry. There is no doubt in my mind that those who participated gained a competitive edge for their success in the leasing industry.

Individuals who pass the CLP exam must have a comprehensive understanding of the industry, and a secure grounding in the basic skill required to be successful in leasing. The CLP designation does not guarantee success, but it is a clear affirmation of the individual's level of professionalism. I would strongly encourage anyone who meets the requirements to prepare for and take the exam-and receive their CLP. Certainly anyone who does business in the international scene will find the CLP designation as a helpful augmentation to their professional stature.

I hope this answers your questions regarding some of the early development work that was done. If you need any further information or clarification on anything, please feel free to contact me.


W. R. Johnnie Johnson, CLP
Senior Advisor - Strategic Projects
The International Leasing & Investment Co.
P.O. Box 3716, Safat, 13038, Kuwait
Phone: +965 244 0368 (Direct)
Office: +965 246 9000
Mobile: +965 942-6529

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