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NAELB Members Upbeat in Vegas, Betting on Success

Date: May 08, 2013 @ 07:00 AM
Filed Under: Associations

In Las Vegas at the NAELB conference, 282 professionals networked and attended educational sessions designed to increase their chance to carve out a bigger piece of the $600 billion equipment leasing pie (1). This city of lights, gambling, food, sun and fun has quite the reputation and for leasing professionals, has been popular producing solid membership turnout. This year’s conference was no exception attracting 282 attendees from all over the United States. Meeting with funding sources and service representatives throughout the weekend were 123 brokers hailing from all over the U.S. and Canada as well as guests from both Ireland and the U.K.

More than any conference that I have attended in recent years, members who I spoke to and corresponded with after the conference were quite enthusiastic throughout their long weekend in Nevada. There was a true sense of optimism about the future of this large leasing industry that simmered at the 2012 national conference in Denver and really began to percolate at the last two regional conventions in Baltimore and Irvine. It has been a long haul since the economic flame shut off at the onset of the latest recession in what Larry Burkett called "the great economic earthquake" in his 1990 book.

Upbeat comments from attendees seemed to fall into two categories: Traditional standard praise, the kind that lauds the reasons why we get together with our industry peers, and those that go beyond by offering higher-pitched responses. These survivors have always seen the industry’s economic pie and have appreciated its benefits. The NAELB’s new President, Corey Bell, noted significant changes and new opportunities which will help build broker and funder businesses right away and for many years into the future. Over the pinging of the slot machines, excited visionaries exhibited their entrepreneurial enthusiasm and this enthusiasm was palpable as they networked and attended educational breakout sessions.

There are those that go to conferences because they know they are beneficial and profitable. I sought one such colleague, Gerry Oestreich. Gerry is a long-term member and former NAELB board president. Gerry often touts that when spending money on a regional or national conference each leasing associate is making an investment. He said that the contacts made at a conference always pay for the trip with the first transaction that closes due to that one single networking contact with another broker, a funding source member or an associate member. And the benefits don’t stop at the networking opportunities. They also come with the reminders of good old-fashioned tools and ideas paired with new learning tips and technologies.

I conducted my own informal survey this year and asked a diverse focus group what stands out in 2013 that was different from past conferences? What are the subtle changes on the horizon of the finance and leasing industry? What are the dynamic changes in our business? Here are a few of their comments:

  • More money is entering the equipment leasing and financing business.
  • Existing sources are freeing up credit windows and lowering buy rates to attract more business.
  • New brokers are sure to enter now and current brokers will be expanding their sales forces. We are likely to see a return from dormant brokers and funding sources.
  • Demand from clients is increasing and they are less reluctant to buy and lease equipment.
  • The conference was enhanced by the quality and quantity of funding sources, both new and old thus creating a lot of excitement for brokers.
  • Banks and funding sources have opened new areas to accept third party originators.
  • Exhibitors were impressed with the number of brokers attending this year’s convention, creating a very positive energy.
  • Brokers were excited about NAELB’s membership in the Independent Commercial Bankers Association opening new local opportunities to close good solid “A” business. An initiative pushed forward by board members Mike Parker and Pete Sawyer.
  • The British are Coming! Former NAELB President, Bud Callahan has had a vision to create a bridge between Europe and the U.S. toward increased leasing opportunities. After years of work and trips across the great pond, the British and Irish arrived. Adam Tyler from the NACFB spoke at lunch about opening channels to Europe. Tyler was quite complimentary about the NAELB and excited about the similarity between the two associations. And who could not enjoy the humorous moments of meeting Irish member Diarmuid McAuliffe who has already entertained international transactions from NAELB members.
  •  Some attendees were intrigued by how much more Canada has opened with cross-border financing opportunities.
  • Ethics were discussed and emphasized as a primary axiom for members of the NAELB as well as other leasing associations.

The NAELB estimates that its members generate over $2 billion in equipment financing transactions a year. That is already a nice slice of our $600 billion dollar pie and offers lots of opportunity for growth. Judging how the heat has been turning up since the Denver convention in 2012, it’s easy to see that number growing this year and in years to come.

Chairperson for the 2013 national conference, Meagan O’Brien with instaCOVER, whose company offers unique web based insurance programs to the leasing industry, was excited about the conference results. Meagan said, “Through twelve months of preparation I learned so much about this industry. Chairing the Vegas conference taught me what motivates funders and brokers and how to look at this industry from different points of view. Our goal and slogan was that everyone would leave a winner. I feel that we accomplished that and so much more.”

Barbara Griffith, president of Southern California Leasing, Inc. summed up the weekend: “The NALEB conference was very motivating and upbeat. The room was full of quality brokers among quality banks and service providers.” Barbara went on to say that she feels the NAELB is experiencing a turning point in the economy and has positioned itself to provide members with a forum for excellent education and networking comprised of a diverse group of funders and brokers.

It is common to hear both negative and positive comments about speakers and guests. But, thanks to the tireless efforts by O’Brien and her team, I heard primarily good feedback on this year’s presenters who offered helpful advice, along with a few yahoo’s from Texas’ inspirational speaker, Bryan Dodge. 

Those who attended this year’s NAELB annual conference are better prepared to take advantage of that piece of the $600 billion dollar pie. If you did not attend, be encouraged by the positive feedback. Brokers and funding source members are already experiencing resurgence in the business and are looking forward to profiting through this new post economic earthquake period. If you are a broker or represent a funding source please consider joining the NAELB and you will find a dynamic group of old and new lease professionals that are there to help you. I am here to report that moods and tangible successes are on the rise!

Past President Patrick Sponsel said, “Change is inevitable as everything around us is temporary. What we can depend upon is that even during the most difficult years; $600 billion in equipment was still leased and financed.”

After my twenty years in the business, it’s still clear to me that diligent leasing professionals -- the 2008 economic earthquake survivors in the NAELB and other associations -- have come out of the storms wiser, stronger and more proficient at gaining a greater percentage of that $600 billion dollar pie.”

See you at the next conference!


1. The Trillion Dollar Pie: U.S. Equipment Finance Market Study contacted by ELA was conducted by Global Insight, Inc., in 2007, reported that the equipment finance sector equated to more than half of all investments in of the entire U.S. economy. Total investments in 2006 were over one trillion, which included plant, equipment and software. Over $600 billion of the trillion-dollar pie was financed through loans, leases and lines of credit. In spite of the stalled economy since 2008, all indications are that the leasing portion of the trillion-dollar pie has remained constant. Hence, this analyst suggests that the opportunity for brokers and funders to carve out their piece is as profitable as ever.

Brian E. Huey
President | LeaseSource Financial Services, Inc.
Brian E. Huey is the Treasurer for the National Association of Equipment Leasing Brokers (NAELB)and the president of LeaseSource Financial Services, Inc.
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