F&I Story

Why F&I Sentinel

Relieving regulatory pressures with technology and human intelligence for context.  

F&I Story

Experience & expertise.

From the beginning.

In the multi-faceted world of automotive finance and insurance (F&I) products, compliance isn’t just a box to check; it’s a strategic imperative. Enter F&I Sentinel, a beacon of reliability and innovation amidst the complex regulatory landscape and consumer protection mandates. 

Born of the need to navigate the evolving demands of federal and state regulators, F&I Sentinel bridges the gap between auto finance companies, dealers, and product providers. Led by co-founders Stephen McDaniel and Matt Nowels, legal stalwarts with nearly two decades of expertise in F&I regulations, F&I Sentinel champions a mission to safeguard consumer interests while fostering a transparent and efficient marketplace. Through the fusion of human intelligence and leading-edge technology, F&I Sentinel redefines compliance, introducing a dynamic framework that adapts to the ever-changing regulatory ecosystem.

F&I Story

The F&I Sentinel story

Voluntary vehicle protection products such as vehicle service contracts, GAP waivers, prepaid maintenance agreements, etc. are offered to consumers by car dealers during the car buying process. Known by a variety of names including, ancillary products, voluntary protection products and F&I products, the cost of those products chosen by the consumer become part of the loan that is financed by the auto lender. The administration of these products are conducted by yet another party: The product company.

But it is the auto lender that regulators hold accountable for non-compliance during any phase of the products’ lifecycle. 

F&I products have been coming under greater scrutiny by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) since 2015. Compounding matters, the patchwork of state regulations governing these product along with the ever-evolving regulations at both levels, make compliance challenging.

In many instances, the lack of data transparency between dealers, product companies and auto lenders lead to inefficiencies and inadvertent inaccuracies especially at servicing.  

F&I Sentinel was born out of this complexity.

Prior to starting the company, co-founders Stephen McDaniel and  Matt Nowels, both highly skilled attorneys, spent almost two decades working with auto lenders and product companies on regulations for F&I products in all 50 states and at the federal level. Their experience and expertise along with the increased scrutiny by the CFPB led them to start F&I Sentinel in 2018.


Create a compliant, transparent and efficient F&I product marketplace for auto finance companies, dealers and product companies.

Apollo, F&I Sentinel's lion logomark tightly cropped as a favicon

The F&I Sentinel VISION

An auto retail ecosystem where consumer interests are protected, and auto finance companies, dealers and product companies can thrive. 

F&I Story

The F&I Sentinel difference

To achieve this mission, F&I Sentinel’s highly skilled Concierge Compliance Team and its leading-edge CITADEL platform deliver uniquely effective managed compliance solutions to enable customers to achieve what we term, “Dynamic Compliance.” 

Citadel ecosystem, including Fund with certainty, Refund with confidence​, Security & integration​, Managed compliance, Managed Look-Backs, and Regulatory Audit & Examination Response
CITADEL® Platform​

CITADEL® Platform​

Trusted by 16 auto lenders, including six of the top 10 lenders, and used by 600 F&I product administrators, the cloud-native CITADEL® platform houses more than 112,000 F&I products. 

Rules-based workflows, and easy to use interfaces for lenders, dealers and product companies are just some of the features that reduce friction in the origination process.  

On the downstream, the CITADEL FAIRRCalc® refunds quote engine and communications workflows ensure accurate real-time quotes and timely dealer and product company notifications.

Concierge Compliance Team​

Concierge Compliance Team​

At F&I Sentinel, compliance is never a set and forget. The complex and evolving compliance landscape coupled with the growing scrutiny on F&I products significantly raises the stakes for auto lenders, product companies and dealers, alike. The F&I Sentinel Concierge Compliance Team operates at the intersection of F&I products, regulations and compliance. 

The team of almost 30 specialists rigorously reviews every product submitted by our network of 600 F&I product administrators. Only those that meet their corresponding lender’s risk threshold or Minimum Business Requirements are credentialed and added to the repository.  We continuously monitor the regulatory landscape to proactively identify issues and develop solutions. 

We pride ourselves in staying ahead of the curve by seeing what’s around the corner before our partners do and having a solution waiting in the wings when they get there. The result— an outsourced turn-key compliance solution that mitigates the legal, regulatory, and reputational risks associated with the financing and resolution of F&I products. It’s the recipe to our success.

Unlock compliance excellence powered by CITADEL® today.

From dynamic compliance solutions to real-time insights, CITADEL® powers F&I Sentinel’s solutions that streamline and simplify F&I product compliance-related operations. 

Ready to level-up your approach to compliance? Connect with our dedicated team today and embark on a journey toward operational efficiency.

Stephen McDaniel

Stephen McDaniel

Chief Executive Officer

Prior to co-founding F&I Sentinel, Stephen spent 13 years as insurance regulatory counsel focusing his career on compliance issues relating to F&I products. During his time practicing law, Stephen was responsible for overseeing the passage and implementation of state laws throughout the country governing the offering of F&I products. 

Throughout his career, Stephen has worked with many of the largest vehicle finance companies in the United States to implement a compliance management system with respect to the financing of F&I products. Stephen’s experience with the regulations governing the offering and financing of F&I Products has been instrumental to F&I Sentinel’s customers navigating the complex regulatory environment applicable to these products.

Matt Nowels

Matthew Nowels


Prior to co-founding F&I Sentinel, Matthew spent 13 years as insurance regulatory counsel focused on the areas of guaranteed asset protection (GAP waiver), vehicle service contract, and motor vehicle ancillary products.

During this time, Matthew developed a unique expertise specific to these products. Instrumental in the shaping or passage of legislation across the country governing the offering and financing of GAP waiver, Matthew is the nation’s leading expert on the product. Since the inception of F&I Sentinel, Matthew’s expertise has been invaluable in helping vehicle finance companies address a constantly evolving regulatory and litigation landscape.

Talk to an expert​