Certified Leasing Professional Designation

by Cynthia W. Spurdle March/April 2008
In the 24 years since a small group of leasing professionals started the Certified Lease Professional designation, it has become the only designation in the leasing and finance industry that recognizes those who strive to be the best in the business. This article chronicles the history and mission of the foundation, and explores the requirements, preparation and payoff for those who wish to become a CLP.

In 1984, a small group of lease professionals, members of the Western Association of Equipment Leasing (WAEL), started the Certified Lease Professional (CLP) Program, a designation that identifies and recognizes individuals within the leasing industry, who have demonstrated their competency through testing, conduct and continued education. They recognized the importance of raising the professional standards and encouraging continuing education within the leasing industry. This group, with the support of WAEL, created the first CLP study tool (a three-ring binder) and created a comprehensive six-hour exam.

During the first ten years of the program about 30 leasing professionals sat for and passed the exam. In 1994, the association decided to make the CLP Program a part of its Education Committee. Bob Teichman, CLP, current president of the CLP board of directors, was the Education Committee chair in 1994 when that change was made. During that year the CLP Home Study Guide was extensively rewritten and was subsequently published as the Leasing Professionals’ Handbook.

Over the next five and a half years, interest in the importance of the program really took off. More than 180 leasing professionals’ passed the CLP exam and received their CLP designation. In 1999, WAEL, now the United Association of Equipment Leasing (UAEL), introduced the CLP Program to the entire leasing industry.

In May 2000, the CLP Foundation was established as the official governing body for the Certified Lease Professional Program, which includes testing, certification and re-certification of lease professionals who qualify for the CLP designation. Our mission is to raise the professional standards of the industry, encourage continuing education in current procedures, laws and regulations, encourage greater industry participation by leasing professionals, and to establish the CLP designation as a recognized credential throughout the industry, with members of the general public and governmental agencies.

The CLP Foundation is supported by its members and is governed by a board of directors. The current board of directors consists of CLP’s elected by the membership and CLP’s appointed by supporting industry associations. The Eastern Association of Equipment Lessors (EAEL), National Association of Equipment Leasing Brokers (NAELB) and the UAEL lend their full support to the foundation.

The eligibility requirements to take the CLP test are very straightforward. An eligible candidate must have at least five years combined experience in equipment leasing or commercial finance, have acceptable character, ability and a solid reputation in the industry and then pledge in writing to adhere to the CLP Standards of Professional Conduct.

Regardless of a person’s role within an organization today, leasing personnel should consider the possibilities of their career paths and the value they will bring to a company with a thorough understanding of the history, terminology, classifications used and the basic aspects of marketing and sales in the leasing industry, the opportunities they will have with a greater understanding of the relationship between lessors and vendors, and a solid handle on lease pricing and general accounting issues within our industry.

A thorough knowledge of credit — knowing why that particular deal got approved or not — and having an understanding of why specific lease documents are required for certain transactions and will help further the careers of operations and credit personnel, as well as sales staff. Other subjects covered are leasing law, collections, documentation, government leasing, lease company and portfolio management, lessor funding and much more.

The path to achieving the CLP designation is not an onerous one, but not necessarily challenge free. It is recommended that a CLP candidate commences preparation at least 75 to 90 days prior to sitting for the exam. The foundation has many study tools available to assist the candidates with their preparation. The Certified Lease Professionals’ Handbook, which was written by lease professionals who are experts within their sectors of the leasing industry, was completed in June 2004.

In May 2005, select chapters were updated for a second printing. The Body of Knowledge, an in-depth outline of the equipment leasing industry, can be downloaded from our website. This is an excellent guide for candidates to follow through their study program. Candidates also need to be sure they are comfortable with solving for rate, yield, the concept of Present Value, etc., on a calculator or computer based program, such as TValue or SuperTRUMP. The Education Library on the CLP website lists several books that show how to best utilize a financial calculator or use TValue.

Another great way to prepare for the exam is with a “buddy” or a group of peers. Each holds the other accountable. Many have found this a great source of encouragement.

The Mentor Program is designed to assist the CLP candidate in answering specific questions that arise during their initial study. Mentors are assigned to a candidate matching their strengths to the candidate’s weaknesses.

There is also a special program called the “Anonymity Program.” This program was set up for those very “visible” leasing professionals who may be concerned about not passing the exam the first time and would like to study and sit for the exam anonymously. The foundation is ready and willing to accommodate those candidates.

Review classes are available as final preparation before sitting for the exam. The foundation offers the CLP Master Review one-day class at different locations around the country for small groups studying to sit for the exam. This review is also offered by our supporting associations, free of charge to those who attend their annual conferences.

The CLP Foundation offers a convenient exam location each month in different parts of the country. The written exam is scheduled for a full day with two breaks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon with a lunch break. The exam consists of multiple choice, true/false, short answer, problem solving and essay questions.

In 2006, the CLP Foundation signed an agreement with the Canadian Finance & Leasing Association (CFLA) to use foundation products as well as the designation of CLP. Last year, the CFLA started work on a Web-based educational program to be introduced this year. The certification program will soon follow. The association also signed an agreement in 2006 establishing a Ukrainian Certified Leasing Specialist (UCLS) program for the Ukraine. The Union of Certified Leasing Specialists (UCLS) has been formed and there have been 67 certificates awarded to new Certified Leasing Specialists (CLS).

Certified Lease Professionals are required to maintain their designation in a variety of ways, including teaching and attending leasing and finance-related events. This year the association is very proud to announce that CLP’s will be able to earn Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits for attending or teaching at an Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) conference or Web seminar.

The CLP designation sets the standards for professionalism in the leasing industry. It identifies and recognizes individuals within the leasing industry who have demonstrated their competency through continued education, testing and conduct. The CLP designation represents a visible recognition of an industry professional’s achievement and status.

Clients, customers, peers and employers recognize this commitment to excellence. Most importantly, you will have the self-satisfaction in knowing that you are a “Professional” in the leasing industry. Currently there are 313 leasing professionals who have studied for and successfully passed their CLP Exam, met all of the requirements and earned their Certified Lease Professional designation.

The CLP program is the only internationally recognized lease certification program.

Cynthia W. Spurdle Headshot
Cynthia “Cindy” W. Spurdle has more than 20 years experience in the equipment leasing industry. As the executive director of the CLP Foundation, she has managed the CLP Program since 2000. Her leasing experience began with The Wrigley Group Ltd., as vice president managing a limited partnership. After becoming president in 1988, Spurdle added four more subsidiaries to the limited partnership.

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