Tuesday, May 7, 2019
Funders, lenders, legal analysts and service providers gathered at New York City's Roosevelt Hotel for the second annual Broker Fair. Balcony seating in the hotel's grand ballroom accommodated the approximately 800 attendees, who cheered when Broker Fair founder and deBanked president and chief editor Sean Murray opened the conference.
Noting that the movie Wall Street had been taped in the very same ballroom in 1987, Murray recalled Gordon Gekko's famous "greed is good" speech, stating that it's no longer greed that is good, but aligned interests that are good.
"Of the $15 billion that was lent to businesses last year, half came from brokers," Murray said. "Small business owners are expanding their businesses, pursuing opportunities, replacing capital assets or making repairs. These are mostly positive things, not emergency situations."
Murray also stressed the need for ethics in funding, noting that the maturing lending industry can no longer support "survival of the un-fittest" as it continues to evolve. "Do it responsibly … and make a difference," he said. "Do it right or be eliminated."
Business best practices were further explored in Operating with Integrity: Why Ethics Matter, an afternoon panel with Justin Bakes, CEO at Forward Financing and Christine Chang, CEO at 6th Avenue Capital LLC. The CEOs stressed that being ethical can directly and positively impact the bottom line. Aggressive collection tactics and subpar merchant services can damage a company's image and brand, they stated.
"We were proud to be asked to participate in this panel," said Darren Schulman, president at 6th Avenue Capital. "Honesty and integrity are our core principles. In this industry, there are a lot more deals that are done right than wrong, but we can always be better."
Citing the program's three key tenets: education, inspiration and opportunities, Murray observed that Broker Fair has expanded its focus to the broader lending ecosystem while remaining committed to the success of individual agents and brokers.
Educational sessions included product demos, regulatory updates and business best practices. Keynote speaker Kindra Hall, a professional storyteller, set the tone for an inspirational day with practical advice on how to use storytelling in sales. Opportunities were ever-present in product demos, interactive workshops and networking breaks throughout the program.
Industry leaders took the Main Stage to assess the state of the industry and evolving regulatory environments. Andrew Reiser, chairman and CEO at Kapitus, moderated The Great Debate with panelists Mark Ruddock, CEO at BFS Capital; Jeremy Brown, chairman at Rapid Finance; and David Gilbert, founder and CEO at National Funding. The panelists concurred that the lending industry has evolved dramatically in recent years.
Brown noted that brokers will have to continually adapt in this increasingly competitive space. They may differentiate their service offerings, develop a more vertical focus, go upmarket to better credit customers or go down-market by funding subprime merchants that competitors can't touch, he pointed out. "Brokers of today are not the same as brokers of ten years ago," he said. "It's hard to say exactly how brokers will change as they continue to compete."
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