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Friday, November 8, 2019

Monitor conference attracts equipment finance revolutionaries

Nearly 100 equipment finance executives convened at Philadelphia’s Museum of the American Revolution on Nov. 6, 2019, to examine technology’s impact on their evolving industry. Monitor, an industry trade publication and resource for equipment finance professionals, hosted Equipment Finance Disrupted+, the first in a new conference series. The one-day event included a mix of keynote presentations, panel discussions and networking opportunities.

Eduardo Del Rio, cofounder and president of AA Bankers, a working capital solutions company, found the conference enjoyable and thought-provoking. “It’s important for finance leaders to think outside the box and not just stick to what we know,” he said. “The information was interesting, especially the demonstrations about how businesses can leverage technology.”

In opening comments, keynote speaker Deborah Reuben, president of Reuben Creative, challenged the audience to look ahead, recognize trends and create a technology watchlist. “Think about what’s possible at the intersection of multiple technologies,” she said, pointing out that advanced technologies are augmenting, rather than replacing, existing systems. Examples included mobile, cloud computing, IoT, automation, blockchain, 3-D printing, robotics and virtual reality.

Starting over

Bill Verhelle, CEO at Innovation Finance USA, launched a mobile app from scratch after serving as co-founder and CEO at First American Commercial Bancorp from 1996 to 2012. After selling the company to City National Bank in 2012, he continued to serve as CEO until 2015.

Twenty years after starting First American, Verhelle was ready to begin a new company on a clean slate. By using the latest technology, he automatically eliminated legacy systems, data and customer portfolio conversions and employee orientation. Following were among his key considerations in launching QuickFi, a mobile finance app:

  • Business strategy: Be willing to depart from “economies of scale” thinking.
  • Break away: Be willing to try something different, instead of expecting to achieve results by being like everyone else.
  • Business model: Remember, traditional, widely adopted models are in decline; a small number of new model companies are more profitable.
  • Organizational structure: Decide if your model will be separate or combined, incremental or revolutionary.

“Today, a new enterprise software business can be started for under $10 million,” Verhelle said. “Prior to 2008, it would have cost $100 million. Cloud computing, APIs, open source and platform models are exploding over the last decade. This is the future.”

Reimagining a legacy business

On the flip side of the discussion, Rafe Rosato, chief innovation officer at DLL Group, found past success to be the biggest impediment in reimagining a 50-year-old business. Companies that perform well for a long time have bragging rights and may not immediately recognize the impact of disruptive newcomers on old-line thinking, he stated. To combat this complacency, he recommended asking the following challenge questions:

  • Are we as good as we think we are, or is the market void of excellent options?
  • Have we been celebrating that we are the “least-worst” choice?

Steve Nelson, senior vice president, director of operations at TD Equipment Finance, agreed that finance is generally a risk-averse business. He encouraged attendees to look beyond the status quo to new, adjacent opportunities and disruptive business models. “What was once the revolution that brought [incumbents] to power becomes the conservative mindset designed to keep them in power,” he said.

For more information on the Monitor’s Disrupt conference series, visit www.monitordaily.com/events/ end of article

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