This article was originally published by ELFA in January 2024.
Reprinted with permission from the author.

A group of innovators is connecting ELFA members with new ideas and each other.

The ELFA Innovation Advisory Council is a brilliant group of C-level and senior leaders from across the equipment finance industry who convene regularly to keep up with technology and innovation trends and, more specifically, assess how the trends impact our industry now and into the future.

From these trend-scanning discussions, we develop educational content and opportunities to engage association members in exploring these topics through various ELFA virtual and in-person events as well as written content for ELFA’s QuickBrief e-newsletter and Equipment Leasing & Finance Magazine.

Thanks to former ELFA President & CEO Ralph Petta for the original vision that catalyzed this group as well as the enthusiastic support of our mission for the past five years.

Quarterly Roundtables

Through our quarterly virtual Innovation Roundtables, hosted by the TomorrowZone team, in 2023 the Innovation Advisory Council engaged 92 professionals from 59 different companies. It was so wonderful to convene a cross section of ELFA’s members to connect, learn and share ideas about technology and innovation with industry peers. Participation included diverse representation from bank, independent, captive, fintech and service provider members.

In these engaging sessions, we explored the following top-of-mind technology and innovation topics with innovation thought leaders:

  • The Human-Side of Innovation in Equipment Finance
  • The Possibilities of Standards To Accelerate Innovation And Liquidity In Our Industry
  • AI and the Future of Equipment Finance
  • The Art of the Possible: Pushing Boundaries with New Technologies

Innovation roundtables are carefully designed to bring cutting-edge hyper-relevant technology innovation discussions to a broad audience throughout the year. We are creating opportunities for ELFA members to connect with new ideas and with each other without the expense of travel. Top-of-mind innovation themes are selected by the working group right before the roundtable so that we are always exploring relevant topics.

The 2024 ELFA Innovation Roundtable series is planned for Feb. 15, May 9, Aug. 8 and Nov. 21.

The Innovation Advisory Council also designed and facilitated three engaging breakout sessions at the ELFA Annual Convention:

  • AI 1.0: Practical Applications of AI and the Future of Equipment Finance
  • Intelligent Automation & Fraud Management: Cutting-Edge Strategies to Safeguard Your Business
  • Accelerating Innovation: The Transformative Role of Industry Standards in Equipment Finance.

2024 Innovation Advisory Council Members

  • Michael Baez, CLFP, Leasepath
  • Barry Beer, Dell Financial Services
  • Mark Blais, Channel
  • Tina Cartwright, CLFP, U.S. Bank
  • Bill Choi, ELFA
  • John Cooper, CNH Industrial Capital LLC
  • Andrew Cotter, Somerset Capital Group, Ltd.
  • Lisa Fitzgerald, First Citizens Bank Equipment Finance
  • Roman Gajda, Mitsubishi HC Capital America, Inc.
  • Kaheres Hahn, Finova Capital, LLC
  • Martin Klotzman, CLFP, Ivory Consulting Corporation
  • Jennifer Martin, CLFP, LTi Technology Solutions
  • Jillian Munson, QuickFi
  • Tyson Norman, Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation
  • Sheila Oliver, John Deere Financial
  • Harmony Oswald, Esq, Oswald Law Firm
  • Robert Preville, APPROVE
  • Deborah Reuben, CLFP, DES, TomorrowZone (Chair)
  • Eldon Richards, Solifi
  • Tawnya Stone, CLFP, GreatAmerica Financial Services
  • Denis Stypulkoski, Reimagine Advisors
  • Beckham Thomas, Trnsact
  • Kaitlin Thompson, Siemens Financial Services, Inc.
  • Moto Tohda, CLFP, Tokyo Century (USA) Inc.

Thoughts on the Outlook for 2024

“There are some clear trends that have come from our Innovation Advisory Council discussions. Our industry is insatiably curious about how to integrate AI into their companies, whether it’s systems or processes to help with efficiency, decision-making or an enhanced client experience. Detecting and preventing fraudulent activities is also of specific concern. This issue has come to the front of all EF companies’ burners as the vigilance needed to safeguard customers and assets becomes increasingly difficult. Last, at an industry level, there is an exciting conversation surrounding the “Zoom out” strategy of our industry. An example is our discussions at the ELFA Annual Convention where there was collective curiosity surrounding an industry-wide digital ecosystem fueled by industry standards and other enabling frameworks. This longer-term innovation conversation is a necessary strategic industry step that will gain traction in 2024.” – Jen Martin, CLFP

“AI is now in our lives. You can now interact with it directly through a browser or any interface. AI will force a hard cyber security battle between us and bad actors/fraudsters by allowing everyone to be more sophisticated. We can find more anomalies, but they can better attack and personalize their confiscation. AI can fill resource and communication gaps with chatbots and interactive messaging. The mantra is that you want technology for a solution, not the reverse. Continue to host a place and time for your people to understand what you are trying to innovate.” – Moto Tohda, EMBA, CLFP

Deborah Reuben, CLFP, DES, is CEO & Founder of TomorrowZone and Chair of the ELFA Innovation Advisory Council.