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American Financial Network to Provide Equipment Leasing to Community Bankers

February 06, 2013, 07:19 AM
Filed Under: Industry News

Midwest equipment leasing veterans Spencer Richman and Richard Homan have launched a new division of American Financial Network, Inc. (AFN). Bankers' Equipment Leasing will provide Midwest community bankers an opportunity to offer equipment leasing to their commercial customer base, a service that historically has been impractical due to lack of expertise and economies of scale. Richard Homan will lead the division building on his successes at BB Community Leasing Services Inc.
"Community banks are exposed to significant competition in the equipment finance arena", states Homan. According to the Independent Community Bankers of America, community banks control approximately 21% of all US banking assets and 58% of all loans to small business. "Despite this market acceptance for traditional bank loans/products, community banks control a negligible portion of all lease receivables. At the same time banks are also experiencing lack of loan demand, net interest margin squeeze and high levels of liquidity. Community banks have the demand and ability to fund these transactions. They simply need the expertise and platform from which to operate. We provide that platform without the fixed investment and overhead of establishing their own business unit" concludes Homan.
Bankers Equipment Leasing is taking a distinctive approach to delivering a unique and sometimes misunderstood product to the community bank market. Unlike other equipment finance companies, Bankers Equipment Leasing will provide a wide variety of options to community bankers to help them increase their loan portfolio and bottom line. They will be able to pick and choose their level of involvement on any given transaction depending on their level of risk tolerance, liquidity, capital level and yield requirements. Banks will be able to generate fees, loans or lease receivables on any given transaction and will have the flexibility to change their approach at any time.
Competing offerings to community bankers appear to fall into one of two categories. The most commonplace product involves a leasing company that offers a fee for a referral. The alternative approach typically involves a leasing company that presents a transaction to a bank for funding. According to Mr. Richman, "...these programs have their merit but have failed to achieve any significant market share for the community bank marketplace. The "fee only" products do not offer enough incentive to actively market the product while the funding opportunity model presents customers who are typically not local or known to the community banker and present a transactional funding opportunity only. Community bankers are just that - they want to build long term relationships in their community".
Mr. Homan has spent 28 years in the financial services industry, including the most recent nine years building a bank-owned leasing company with a similar model. He has worked extensively with 100+ Midwest community banks and understands their challenges. Spencer Richman has owned AFN since 1988. He has developed a large syndication network and specialized underwriting approach that will allow Bankers Equipment Leasing to fund a wide range of transactions. "Size of transaction and client exposures should not matter when we evaluate the ability to fund a given lease", says Richman.
Bankers Equipment Leasing will offer a full complement of equipment finance products to community banks that will in turn be offered to their clients, including vendor finance, municipal leasing, agriculture equipment/real estate fixture finance and all forms of commercial equipment finance. Lease structures will include true leases and loans and will be driven by the end user's desired tax and financial objectives. "We work directly with the commercial lenders to understand their client's need and provide them with the correct product" Homan concludes. 

AFN was founded by Spencer Richman in 1988. AFN has developed an impeccable reputation within the equipment finance industry in the areas of business development, credit analysis and "sell-side" syndications. Further, AFN has developed expertise in middle-market, small ticket and municipal leasing. Its volume is primarily driven by vendors, regional bank referrals and direct originations. The company also has investment banking and servicing capabilities. Finally, AFN's professional credentials include, among others, Certified Lease Professional© earned in 1998, NAELB Best Practices Broker designation in 2008 and NAELB Master Member designation in 2007.

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