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Taking the Reins of Wells Fargo Equipment Finance

Date: Sep 30, 2022 @ 07:00 AM

Wells Fargo announced Amrita Patel as the new leader of Wells Fargo Equipment Finance (WFEF) in early August. She succeeded Bill Mayer, who led WFEF since 2015 and announced his retirement in June after 34 years in financial services.

Prior to taking the helm of WFEF, Patel was head of Process Transformation for Wells Fargo Commercial Capital. In that role, she drove change across its various business lines through improved documentation, processes and controls — an effort that helped transition the organization to a more innovative, sustainable-growth business model. Prior to this role, Patel was National Sales Manager for Wells Fargo’s Commercial Vehicle Group, a division within WFEF.

Patel brings a unique background and perspective developed over her career to her role leading WFEF and, after roughly sixty days on the job, Michael Toglia, publisher of Equipment Finance Advisor, sat with Patel to gain insight into the challenges and opportunities she sees for one of the nation’s leading equipment finance organizations.

Michael Toglia: Prior to starting this position at Wells Fargo, you were the Head of Process Transformation for Wells Fargo Commercial Capital. Can you tell me a little bit about that role and how you think it prepared you for taking the helm of Wells Fargo Equipment Finance?

Equipment Finance article with Amrita Patel - Head of Wells Fargo Equipment Finance

Amrita Patel: My career path hasn't been what I would call linear. It's been a compilation of many different roles that have helped me acquire various skills and experience. As head of Process Transformation for Wells Fargo Commercial Capital, I had a chance to look at the six businesses as independent products. You assess the value they bring and how they can holistically provide our clients the solutions they need, with the goal of driving operational discipline, consistency, and a commonality in what we do.

Having to look at the business more holistically and understand it at a macro level really helped prepare me for this role because I need to think more broadly and understand how businesses are similar and different. Leading a business like Wells Fargo Equipment Finance, it’s important to understand the matrix environment, the different functions and how they work together, and how to motivate everyone to work toward the same goal — while keeping the clients at the front and center of all our decisions. I would say that the two roles are very relatable.

Toglia: It sounds to me that you're really looking at things from a much wider perspective with the goal of funneling it all down into best practices for Wells Fargo Equipment Finance.

Patel: Absolutely. I'm going in with unyielding curiosity. I am asking a lot of questions to understand what, why and how. I try to understand what we have done in our peer businesses and whether that is translatable. I believe the ability to look at things across the board and funnel it down, as you said, as well as asking those questions and driving best practices, is important. It's definitely that process mindset that I'm bringing; the operating discipline of understanding how we drive this business not only as its own offering, but also across the commercial bank and how it helps our clients.

Toglia: What is going to be your primary focus for Wells Fargo Equipment Finance, and how would you describe your vision for what's going to be happening?

Patel: I recently hit sixty days in this position, so the vision is still developing. What I will tell you is that my primary focus has been to visit sites where we have a large equipment finance presence to meet with our talent and hear their feedback. I want to understand what we need to work on, what our clients are saying, and what barriers we are facing. I’m also meeting with our customers to understand the macro trends and how these trends are affecting their ability to grow their businesses. This information provides us an understanding of what we should be doing going forward for our clients because we don’t want to just blindly continue doing things the same way. It’s important to evolve to meet our clients where they are.

I’m also focused on learning what we look like today, determining what we want to look like by 2025, and developing the roadmap to achieve our goals. We’re examining growth opportunities, client offerings, industries that we want to partner in, and ways to work closer with our peer businesses across Wells Fargo.

Toglia: Wells Fargo Equipment Finance has enjoyed tremendous success as a top equipment finance source in the United States. It's been that way for a long time. What do you attribute that long-term success to?

Patel: I think it's a couple of things. The client experience must be in the center of what we're doing. If we're not paying attention to that, it damages our reputation and affects our bottom line. Second, our long-term success is also equally attributed to our talent. As I’ve gotten to know our talent in the market, I’ve seen how well they know their geographical regions and their industries. I also experienced firsthand how amazing and knowledgeable our people are when I was in equipment finance four years ago in our transportation business. The ability to speak with your clients specifically on industry issues creates trust and engagement with them, and we become a part of their business solution.

Our team has experience in the cyclical trends in various industries. We understand the inputs and outputs of pricing, where these industries are going, and how equipment is valued. That expertise is a very powerful attribute to our success. Coupling a strong client experience with industry insights allows us to be more of a partner than just a commodity. I believe this is what gives us our stronghold.

Toglia: Wells Fargo Equipment Finance provides equipment financing options across many different industries. We are currently in a very unusual economic environment with many challenges such as supply chain issues. Do you have a feel for some of the sectors that will likely have some of the greatest opportunities and potentially some of the greatest challenges as we go into the fourth quarter of this year?

Patel: Yes, we are focused on a myriad of industries.

When I look at the supply chain and all the pieces that go into it, the challenges are actually quite common across different industries. You have the rising cost of materials, for example steel for marine, to build a barge. There are driver shortages across motorcoach, bus and general transportation. I think across many industries, you're going to see labor issues as a common theme. But, with every challenge, there's an opportunity. As an equipment finance company, we can help our clients think about their capital needs and how to best use capital. We can help determine the liquidity they will need for what they feel is coming in this pending downturn.

As far as opportunities, I think electrification is going to be very big. A very large client recently shared their plans about electrification and retrofitting, and how they do their job every day. It's transformational. We need to provide not only financing solutions, but also insights into what we're seeing in each industry because Wells Fargo is very focused on the environment as well.

I do think there are some incredible opportunities in construction. We are seeing green building practices grow in various geographical areas, so we should be thinking about this in terms of the solutions we can provide and the types of equipment we can finance.

Toglia: From your perspective, what do you feel is most important for Wells Fargo Equipment Finance to focus on to create long-term and mutually beneficial relationships between the company, the individual employee, and preparing them for leadership roles?

Patel: This is a topic that I'm personally very passionate about. I'm a product of early talent development programs and sponsorship, and those experiences have given me insight on this topic.

I want our team to focus on where we want to go in equipment finance, and you start that with an assessment of where we are today. We must then determine our goals for the next three years, and how we are going to achieve these goals. Next, we empower our leaders by creating an environment where they can bring up ideas and think outside of the box. I didn't come from a traditional background, so I value creativity and believe it’s important for our talent have visibility to bring new ideas forward. We must also ask ourselves what is working well for our peer businesses across the bank, and how is this meaningful to the client.

We empower leaders by leading by example, giving them visibility to the broader strategy, and encouraging them to build a niche of understanding of what we do. There are also so many opportunities at Wells Fargo to try different things. You can have multiple careers without leaving the company. I've done that in the last four years, so I hope that that's motivation for others — you don't have to come in and just do one thing. You can do many.

Toglia: Is there anything that's keeping you up at night right now about the business?

Patel: I have very big shoes to fill, and this is a business that's important to me and to Wells Fargo. I don't know what I don't know, so I'm constantly asking questions, trying to connect dots, leaning on peers, and gaining an understanding of what our clients say.

But I tend to be a very good sleeper, and that’s because I know I try to do the right things each day, and I've got to come in with a clear mind and get at it the next day. I'm always aware of blind spots and making sure that we're thinking about worst case scenarios. But I come back to work every day ready to hit our focus areas.

Founder / Publisher | 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 on the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association's Service Providers Business Council Steering Committee and the ELFA's Communications Committee. Toglia has also served as Marketing Chair, for the Turnaround Management Association (TMA) Philadelphia/Wilmington Chapter.

From 2018 - 2020, Toglia served as the Executive Director/CEO of the National Equipment Finance Association.

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

Contact Michael Toglia at 484.380.3184 or

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