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A Changing Tide ... Observations from ELFA’s Credit and Collections Conference

June 10, 2013, 07:00 AM

The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) held its annual Credit and Collections Conference at the historic Hyatt at the Bellevue in Philadelphia, PA on June 2-4. This year’s conference, attended by approximately 150 attendees, was appropriately themed “The Changing Tide of Credit and Collections”. And, from the sessions I was able to attend, it seemed clear that credit and collections shops are changing rapidly – making adjustments to traditional practices in an effort to operate more efficiently while simultaneously facing a new and evolving regulatory and economic environment.  

Attendees demonstrated a genuine sense of curiosity and interest in learning more about the best practices employed by not only the presenters, but also by their colleagues attending the sessions. 

It seems safe to say that the changes occurring in credit and collections are significant, and the lenders that consistently seek to improve their processes will likely be most successful. Perhaps what was most surprising to me as an attendee was the depth of the automated processes available to both functional specialties. The tools available to these professionals are rapidly changing and improving. So, unless your credit and collections shops are nimble, your company may get left behind in this highly-competitive equipment finance market. Yes, I used the word “nimble” to describe credit and collections professionals!

Let me explain. The technological advancements in these functional areas make it possible to not only approve and fund deals more quickly and efficiently, but also make it possible for the entire portfolio management function to achieve new levels of portfolio analytics as a result of the various analytical tools now available. The fact is that today, efficiencies in credit and collections are highly impacted by the level of technological expertise residing within an asset finance company.

Creating such efficiencies within the credit function was a key theme of the session presented by Mark Belanger of Deutsche Leasing and Kenneth Katz of Wells Fargo Equipment Finance. This spirited session covered numerous topics including the benefits achieved when a credit shop effectively utilizes the advancements in credit underwriting software and systems. Topics covered (among others) included: 1) How to automate the credit approval process via the use of credit scoring models and, 2) How to maximize data integrity though the auto-population of data fields throughout the front-end process.

The Collections Culture session presented by Kimberly Esposito of Independent Equipment Company, Daniel Goderis of GreatAmerica Financial Services, Dana Pace of PNC Equipment Finance and Jim St. Clair of De Lage Landen Financial Services was very well attended and panelists and attendees discussed numerous topics including the importance of building a front-end system that works efficiently for all stake holders in the portfolio management process. The point being that what collections professionals sometimes find effective in a process does not necessarily match what the credit people find effective.

From these two particular sessions, it’s obvious that the technology implemented in the credit and collections functions must work for all stakeholders – those in the trenches daily. To achieve this mission, it is imperative that these custom applications are designed with the collective input of the people who will utilize the platform, regardless of their individual job. This involvement in the design of a platform by key functional representatives will not only create a truly effective, efficient and useable platform, but also empower employees to create a process that will work for each of them in the long term.

On Monday, the attendees also had the opportunity to hear a presentation from Beth Ann Bovino, Deputy Chief Economist for Standard and Poor’s. During this comprehensive presentation, Bovino provided and in-depth view of the factors affecting the U.S. economy, and the risks presented by a global economy experiencing the seemingly endless effects of a fomerly depressed and now recovering (albeit slowly) housing market. The presentation also demonstrated the resiliency of the U.S. economy along with a cautious, yet optimistic long-term outlook.

There were of course many other excellent presentations during the conference presented by industry experts…but there were simply too many sessions for us to cover in one blog posting. One thing is certain, if credit and collections professionals don’t keep a close eye on the advancements available in the credit underwriting and portfolio management process, their organizations will eventually be left behind. 

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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