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Converging to Create a Premier Technology Finance Group

Date: Jan 28, 2022 @ 05:00 AM

In early January, Regions Bank announced the expansion of its Regions Equipment Finance Corporation (REFCO) to include a new Technology Solutions platform and the addition of a veteran team led by Jay Cannon, who will serve as REFCO’s Technology Solutions Market Manager. The new Technology Solutions platform will focus on providing both financing and leasing products for Regions clients with a focus on helping businesses maximize efficient operations through technology.

Cannon is an industry veteran who most recently served as Eastern Region Manager for U.S. Bank’s Technology Finance Group. He began his career with Graybar Electric and moved into the finance industry with First U.S. Financial Corporation in 1981. He also served in leadership roles with Bombardier Technology Management Finance, Mellon U.S. Leasing Corporation and IBM Credit, LLC.

Joining Cannon are two industry experts – Mark Moro and Riley Thompson, who also previously worked with U.S. Bank’s Technology Finance Group. This powerhouse team has deep roots in equipment and technology financing.

Equipment Finance article with Jay Cannon of Regions Bank

Cannon met with Michael Toglia, Publisher of Equipment Finance Advisor the morning after the 2022 College Football National Championship game. So, it only seemed apropos that the game came up early in the conversation.

“I was kept up a little past midnight watching that game. I was trying to go to bed, but I couldn't leave the game. But after watching that National Championship game last night, the word convergence came to my mind. Convergence is a good word to open our discussion this morning, because if you think of the Southeastern Conference, you think of the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide – a true convergence of extraordinary talent is evident in both organizations. Great systems, great organizations and immense talent has funneled into those organizations. This is how I would describe the Regions organization. Regions Bank is bringing together tremendous pools of talent for the benefit of our clients and prospects, and Riley, Mark and I are very excited to be here now, converging,” said Cannon.

With that as the backdrop we began our interview.

Equipment Finance Advisor: Why is Regions Equipment Finance entering this specific leasing/lending niche, and what specifically attracted you and your team to this opportunity? Was Regions doing technology deals in the past?

Jay Cannon: In one word, culture – the people and the ability to create something that will make a difference. When I first spoke with Will Perry, Managing Director and head of REFCO within Regions, he said that if I came over to Regions, I would have a chance to leave my thumbprint here. It's funny how just a few words can make an enormous difference. We were looking for a great culture above everything else. This culture is incredible – meaning how these people work together. With all these factors coming together, it was clear that this was a big opportunity for us. We met with a lot of companies, and many were interested in our market focus, but Regions just stood out above the others.

As for Regions’ presence in the technology sector, Regions was doing some technology deals. They were partnering with other organizations to do the equity portion of the transactions, and Regions was doing the debt, but the bank was not yet addressing the technology sector the way we do it – where we do the debt and the equity.

Equipment Finance Advisor: Will your team be focused on serving clients and prospects within the bank footprint, and what is the credit profile you are targeting?

Cannon: We're going to be inside the regional footprint, collaborating with clients and prospects of the bankers in high-growth areas across the Southeast, Texas, and the Midwest, and we will also be outside the traditional footprint, expanding the relationships. Our focus will be on larger and higher-quality credits because if you think about the IT industry, the larger companies typically are the better-quality credits. Over the last five to 10 years, we have found these large companies need assistance, because there's so much coming at them. They need a sound mind that is focused on IT spending. We're really in this to be consultative. We want to have conversations with these clients, understand what they want to do, see where there's an opportunity for us to help them, and then effectively help them.

Equipment Finance Advisor: Are there plans to grow on a national scale in terms of business development?

Cannon: We certainly foresee that, down the line. We plan to build this group one client at a time. I speak to Riley and Mark all the time about how we are building a foundation, one block at a time. Each customer matters, and it's important that we bring on customers and educate them. It's not selling; it's educating. If we educate our customers, they will make the right decision. We're going to bring on what I call “educators,” as we grow. There's a tremendous opportunity out there, and we need to be focused and grow together.

Equipment Finance Advisor: What transaction sizes is your team targeting?

Cannon: We focus on companies needing financing in the one million dollar-plus range. However, we will do schedules that are smaller than a million dollars. In our careers, especially Riley and me, have had single transactions in the hundreds of millions of dollars. We've also had many transactions that are flow-type business, where every month or quarter there are invoices coming in for funding.

Equipment Finance Advisor: REFCO’s teams collaborate with Regions’ bankers through what is called the Regions360 approach. Please tell us about this approach and how this will provide you a competitive advantage in this market.

Cannon: With an organization the size of Regions, which offers wealth management, corporate bankers, commercial bankers, and much more, we provide a very powerful offering for our clients. Everyone here partners and focuses on the client. I've been in other organizations where they talk about it, but here they actually do it. Everyone is huddling and discussing what can be brought to the client, and all are working to clearly identify the customer’s needs. We don't try to provide a solution that is not a fit. We try to bring exactly what they are looking for and need. At Regions, this is a real strength.

Equipment Finance Advisor: Tell us a bit about the technology finance market and how it has changed over the years.

Cannon: I've been doing this a long time; since the early eighties. Back then, it was, "Do you want to lease your computer?"… or something similar. Relatively speaking, it was very simple. Today, it’s very complicated. But if we can meet with the client and understand what they are trying to accomplish, and address issues such as digital transformation, security software and more, we will be successful. I should mention that Regions is not afraid of software-driven transactions – meaning software-only deals.

Between Riley, Mark, and myself, we've been with some of the largest captives in the world, independents, and even large bank lessors. We've seen what all of them have done, and at one point in my career, I ran one of the largest business partners for a very large technology company. We've also seen the vendor side and how that works. As a result, we have a 360 view of the market between the three of us, and we feel confident we can deal with almost anything a client could need.

Equipment Finance Advisor: You mentioned the vendor space. Will creating and managing vendor programs be a focus for this team?

Cannon: We won't be doing vendor programs, but we will be working with vendors and vendor sales people to get to the right types of clients. That's part of our go-to-market strategy, but it's mostly direct conversations with the C-suite and a little below it, as well as procurement professionals in organizations. We spread out and get to know a lot of people in the organization.

Equipment Finance Advisor: Thanks for your time, Jay. Do you have any parting thoughts?

Cannon: There are a few key takeaways from our discussion. The experience we bring to this great organization, the importance of the Regions360 approach, the opportunity that we have ahead of us, and perhaps most importantly, that our clients can now also take advantage of the experience and knowledge that we've gained over the years. We can bring this knowledge to them and strengthen our organization. We will deliver a real and competitive difference for Regions. And again, I want to thank Will Perry, Ward Cheatham and Ronnie Smith for seeing what we could bring to the organization. I believe this it is a testament to their business acumen and ability to see opportunities when they become available.



Founder / Publisher | Equipment Finance Advisor
Michael Toglia is the Founder, Publisher and CEO of Equipment Finance Advisor.

Michael Toglia's experience in commercial finance spans over 30 years having held various roles in senior management, business origination, capital markets and commercial credit underwriting. Prior to entering the publishing industry, Toglia served as Vice President of Capital Markets and as the National Sales Manager for both the Equipment Finance and Asset-Based Lending Divisions of Textron Financial Corporation. He also held various roles with General Electric Capital and CIT Group.

Toglia currently serves as Marketing Chair for the TMA Philadlephia/Wilmington Chapter. Toglia served as the Executive Director/CEO of the National Equipment Finance Association from 2018-2020 and has been an active member of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association having served two terms as a member of the Service Providers Business Council Steering Committee.

Toglia holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and an M.B.A. in Finance.

Contact Michael Toglia at 484.380.3184 or mtoglia@equipmentfa.com.


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