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The 2022 ELFA Convention – One Word: INCREDIBLE!

October 19, 2022, 07:00 AM

To start, moving the venue from hurricane-torn Marco Island to Orlando in just six days from start to finish was incredible. The fact is, pulling off this convention was unprecedented regardless of how you cut it and from any angle. Think about this: The entire staff of the ELFA pulled together to make the gutsy decision to MOVE, not to CANCEL, with the ELFA Executive Committee and Board. Ralph Petta, the ELFA CEO, and his team deserve a big thank you from all of us, so I recommend sending them a note of thanks!

The JW Marriott Orlando Grand Lakes carried it off as if it were planned long ago. The ELFA members changed their travel plans on a dime – all 904 attended. By the way, 1,100 or so were initially registered, and due to the storm, we still ended up just above 2021's attendance. So, kudos to all the members for making this a big success.

So now, let's get into some of the meat of the convention:

Atmosphere: The general atmosphere was upbeat as everyone was excited to see one another and be together. The attendance at Sunday's golf outing, community service projects, welcome reception, exhibitor booths, both bars (JW and the adjoining Ritz), and the nightly cigar roundtable at the fire pit support that assessment.

Keynote Speakers: They were all great, but Peter Zeihan stole the show as usual. Being a geopolitical expert, Peter conducted deep dives into the Ukraine – Russian war and the latest dust-up between the U.S. and China dealing with high-tech chip manufacturing. Peter stated that he was always firm in his belief that the Russian takeover of Ukraine would be maybe six months from start to finish. So, he has been surprised, but still believes it is Russia’s to lose, and they are doing their best at losing thus far. Towards the end of his time, he answered some questions and discussed what we are all still undecided about – the forecast for inflation. I will say that his answer was a shocker for everyone. Peter stated that a 9 to 15 percent annual inflation increase for the next five years is pretty much baked into the cake. Think about this, 9 to 15 percent PER YEAR! How many of your people were around in the late 70s and early 80s? His rationale was that supply chains are still being reconfigured – meaning manufacturing plants must be built from scratch in entirely different countries, which is, for a lot of reasons limited to just a few U.S. global partners we prefer to partner with, i.e., North America. Even more understandable are the country-specific demographics of the potential employee pool to fuel these new plants. That is a significant problem due to the aging population in North America. A bright spot he mentioned was immigrants from Central and some South American countries, but this presumes that the U.S. will change its immigration quotas for legal immigration – a longshot due to union influences to keep the quota status quo as it has been for decades.

Breakout Sessions: They keep getting better and better each year and this year was no exception. One in particular was the "40-Year Retrospective" session. Yes, I know I personally moderated it, but I am writing this blog, so forgive me for the shameful plug. It was standing room only, and they were there to see my panel, not me. We had an all-star panel of four past ELFA Chairpersons: Valerie Jester, Dave Schaefer, Bill Stephenson and Tony Cracchiolo. Not a shrinking violet in the bunch. The purpose was to use ELFA SEFA data for the past 40 years to tease out some pearls of wisdom, extensive knowledge and life experiences to project out the next 18 months in our industry. In the end, each provided their outlook for the type of recession, used equipment asset values, delinquency, charge-offs, cost of funds and spreads. Since I am at my word limit for this blog, if you want to see their projections, just send me a note with your contact information, and I will send it.

If you attended the convention, the ELFA makes all the content (video of keynotes and audio of the breakouts) accessible. If you did not attend, you can purchase access to them at a reasonable price at the ELFA Conference Resource Center (CRC) here. The CRC should be updated shortly. Unfortunately, due to the speakers' restrictions, the three guest keynote videos will only be available to stream for 30 days.

Bob Rinaldi, CLFP
President | Rinaldi Advisory Services
Bob Rinaldi is a lifelong entrepreneur with a sizable history of success in banking and commercial equipment finance.

A forward-thinking, innovative Finance Executive, Bob has amassed a solid background in assessing organizational needs, developing solutions, supporting implementations and delivering results. During his tenure, Bob guided multiple businesses through profitability and scalability to eventual acquisition, and as a founder of ILC (Information Leasing Company) he helped grow the organization to the fifth-largest bank-owned leasing company in the United States.

Currently President of Bob Rinaldi, LLC, Bob provides advisory services to independent lessors, banks, industry service providers, manufacturers and international firms entering the US equipment finance marketplace.

His tenure in the commercial equipment leasing and finance industry has shaped Bob’s non-traditional approach to envisioning, building and implementing a business model, developing a growth strategy or guiding crisis/problem resolution.

A growth strategist first and foremost, Bob’s specialties include: merger and acquisition planning, improving enterprise value, corporate strategy, process management, tactical design, marketing, new product development, information systems and international expansion.

As an international speaker and a published writer, Bob travels the world sharing his insight and expertise, advising leaders to prepare for shifts in the traditional business environment and to secure their corporation’s place at the forefront of their industry.

Rinaldi can be found on LinkedIn and on his website
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