(L-R) Jade Schenk & Teresa Thacker (Director at Large, AACFB Board of Directors) from Brahma Lending and Leasing; Carrie Radloff (VP, AACFB Board of Directors) from American Financial Partners; and Vickie Rocco & Sara Hadley from Entegra Capital.

(L-R) Jade Schenk & Teresa Thacker (Director at Large, AACFB Board of Directors) from Brahma Lending and Leasing; Carrie Radloff (VP, AACFB Board of Directors) from American Financial Partners; and Vickie Rocco & Sara Hadley from Entegra Capital.

BET ON IT: THE AACFB ANNUAL CONFERENCE RECAP

By Paul Burnham 

The American Association of Commercial Finance Brokers hosted its annual conference this past May in (viva!) Las Vegas. Paul Burnham provides a rundown of the three-day event, which offered attendees the chance to learn, network, and, in the spirit of its host city, maybe go home with an extra prize or two.

The AACFB Annual Conference was held May 2-4, at Caesar’s Palace Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. With a final attendance count of 353 – comprised of 168 brokers, 177 funder/associates and 8 guests – along with 61 exhibitors, it was the largest turnout in the recent history of the conference. The venue was truly elegant. The Caesar’s conference facilities live up to their name, with heroic colonnades, gold carpeting, and an amazing pool area where I’m sure even the hotel’s namesake Roman Emperor Caesar Agustin would have been perfectly comfortable. 

The conference this year made an extra effort to welcome new brokers, starting with the Women in Leasing Luncheon (ladies first!) sponsored by Channel Partners and an opening session for first timers, hosted by Gary Greene of Lease $mart. The session was thorough and informative even for veterans of the industry. I learned a lot, including, but not limited to, how to post in the online AACFB forum, along with the forum’s basic rules. Greene was also generous with his time as moderator of the forum. 

The first day’s sessions continued to provide plenty of material for attendees to chew over. Bud Callahan led the Brokering Essentials class, doling out several new tips and tricks of the trade to attendees. More than one broker on an unsolicited basis told me this session alone was worth the whole trip.

Representatives from Rapid Finance, Visio Lending, Entegra Capital, and Quality Leasing all gave thirty minute presentations of their excellent programs. 

The hour-and-a-half “Speed Dating” session created a roar. The structured event facilitated meetings between brokers and funders/service providers in a fast, efficient manner by limiting time at each table to a set amount before a bell sounded, and attendees moved onto the next table, giving each person a good chance to network. 

The opening reception, sponsored by CH Browne, at the Apollo Pool rounded out the first day with music, an open bar, and great food. The weather was the perfect backdrop, and the atmosphere was friendly and sociable. All present worked to make the evening a pleasant, productive and memorable occasion. 

The conference also integrated several other presentations designed to help, inspire and support the brokerage community. Those included:

CONFERENCE SESSIONS:

Market Disruptors 

David C. Lee of North Mill Equipment Finance examined the difficulties in executing a digital marketing strategy that connects with your customers, increases your brand awareness and skyrockets your revenue, and compared them to the ways disruptors have differentiated themselves in the stodgy world of financial services.

The Future of AACFB 

SPONSORED

SPONSORED

This panel was chaired by past AACFB President Rodney Blecha of Precision Leasing and presented by Greene, Pete Sawyer of Sun South Equipment Leasing, Jaci Miller of ConnectedFi, and Carrie Radloff of American Financial Partners. It was packed full of information for where the AACFB is headed and the value it holds for our members, whether they’re an associate member, broker, funder, or anything in between.

Building Your Own Portfolio 

Doug Houlahan of Clicklease, Shervin Rashti of SLIM Capital, and Kim Riggs of Orion First Financial provided brokers with information about building their portfolios, including how to expand beyond originating leases to bring more opportunity to their businesses for steady income growth. 

Upselling to Increase Your Revenue by Understanding Credit Scores/Analyzing Financial Statements 

Mike Miller of NCMIC and Buddy Zarbock of Commercial Funding Partners examined the various business financing products and services that can fulfill customers’ needs for all types of credits in various industries, including the tools necessary to identify how these products can help customers while also adding additional and recurring revenue streams for AACFB members. 

Speed Up Your Approval Process 

Taylor Moseley of General Financial provided attendees a blueprint on how to use technology and common sense to automate  tedious tasks, so they could spend more time working with customers, vendors, and underwriters and less time waiting for approvals or, worse, declines. 

Inbound Marketing Leads 

Jill Miller of Marketing Design Mix covered everything you need to get started with inbound marketing -- including thought leadership, downloadable content, email, social media (featuring LinkedIn), and calls-to-action. The session was followed by a hands-on workshop on how to optimize your company’s LinkedIn and Google business pages, fine-tune your website’s calls-to-action, create a Google Analytics account, and explore common features found in popular ESPs such as MailChimp and Constant Contact.

How to Get Vendor Business In 2019 

Jamal Dean of Apple Capital Group and Jeff Brannon of SLIM Capital explored how the commercial finance industry is evolving exponentially and unveiled multiple trade secrets guaranteed to bring in good repeat vendor business. 

Cyber Security — CYA (Covering Your App) 

John Miller of Marketing Design Mix warned of some of the cyber risks that can make companies vulnerable – and with most companies now online through websites, issue laptops, and smartphones, those targets for hackers, phishers, hijackers and other cyber-thieves are numerous, with web applications for financial institutions and IT suffering over 900 attacks per day in 2017. Miller covered the ways brokers can protect themselves from application security risks, following it up with a Cyber Security Workshop.

Fast Track Approval Workshop

General Financial’s Moseley also hosted a real time workshop on speeding up the approval process, revealing the secret (and not so secret) tools available to all brokers.

IN CONCLUSION

Finally, the conference wasn’t all work and no play. The meeting ended with Jill Miller auctioning off prizes at the closing lunch. Bidders used the AACFB Bucks that were awarded by vendors to attendees as a small token/reward for visiting their booths at the conference. Palpable excitement spread through the room as high bids on some items escalated, some reaching into the $50,000.00 (AACFB Bucks) range. Some bidders formed consortiums toward the end of the session in order to pool their resources, while Rashti even ran up another prize at the end in a valiant effort to keep the elation going. This event was a lot of fun and definitely the highlight of the show. I’m going to make a point to get all the AACFB Bucks I can at next year’s conference. 

Luckily, despite all of the excitement at lunch, the meeting ended just in time for interested attendees cheer on their favorite horse in the Kentucky Derby. 

The AACFB will host its next event, the 2019 Commercial Financing Expo, on September 19-20, at Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, Florida. I look forward to seeing everyone there and having another successful AACFB event. •