Why I became a CLP
This is the fourth 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.
Nancy Pistorio, CLP, is Executive Vice President of Madison Capital, LLC, a Baltimore-based equipment and vehicle leasing company which provides direct lease financing for businesses nationwide, in Canada, and in Puerto Rico. She also is the first female president of the Eastern Association of Equipment Lessors (EAEL.)
"I had been in the leasing industry for just over ten years working for what was, at the time, an independently owned, small-ticket equipment leasing company. Because it was a smaller firm, and I was the general manager, I had experienced, to one degree or another, the running of most aspects of the company. Credit, sales, marketing, administration, human resources, and accounting, were all areas in which I'd had exposure. Still, taking the CLP test was going to be a challenge to which I would need to apply discipline, focus, and basically go to back to studying.
"I had heard it was a difficult test. Like most people in their late thirties, I was not wild about having to do massive amounts of preparation for test taking.
"For preparation, there is a CLP manual/book to read and different prep study courses one can arrange to take. Usually this study seminar or course is taught by one of the better known industry educators and/or industry CLP's. As it turned out there were several of us working in local Baltimore leasing firms who were interested in sitting for the CLP exam so we got together and hired an educator to help us prepare.
"After having the CLP manual for approximately 30 - 60 days, I remember our group spent 2 - 3 days, 8 hours a day, studying and asking questions with the educator in a classroom-type environment.
"We used Johnny Johnson as our educator/proctor, "she explains.
" Please understand this was 8 years ago, and I have trouble remembering what I had for lunch yesterday! I asked some of my fellow test takers and we seem to recall that the class prep was two 8+ hour days of studying and one 8 or 9 hour full day of test taking. We did all the days in a row.
"Also, the test was actually 4 main sections which were then divided into 4 sub-sections. On just one of the main sections, you were to choose two out of the four sub-sections to complete for your test purposes. So, in total, a test-taker completed approx. 14 sections of testing."
"So the question is.Does becoming a CLP give one an immediate entrée into more opportunities and/or higher paying jobs in our industry? Does it win you more business? More respect? "I am frequently asked these questions by those in our industry considering sitting for their CLP.
"Our industry, unlike many others in the financial sector, remains, for the most part, unregulated particularly with regard to any governing or licensing of those who practice our vocation.
"For our profession, this can be a double-edged sword. It makes the barriers to entry less; however, lack of certification also allows more of the basically unqualified or unknowledgeable to work in this industry indefinitely, sometimes leaving a trail of destruction and failures in their wake.
"This makes credibility for our industry and our products even more challenging.
" As for winning additional business, I know of at least one colleague who recounts a story where a potential client was trying to decide between doing business with my colleague's leasing firm or another sales rep from a different leasing company:
"Both deals were similarly priced and the client had good rapport with both salesmen. On my colleague's business card, he had the CLP insignia after his name. When the client asked and was told what the designation meant, the potential Lessee replied, "Oh well then, I want to give my business to a CLP."
"My colleague won the deal! Does this happen often??? Probably not, but like anything else, the CLP can be what you make of it. And, as with all competitive situations, every little bit of extra effort helps!"
"Any efforts by our own to raise levels of education, create measures of achievement, and maintain high and ethical standards of those within our industry should be both encouraged and supported by all," Nancy Pistorio, CLP, concluded.