The American Association of Commercial Finance Brokers (AACFB) hosted its fourth annual Commercial Financing Expo in September at the M Resort, Spa & Casino in Las Vegas. To say it was a triumph would be an understatement, considering this is the first in-person expo the association has hosted since the COVID-19 pandemic started shutting events down in 2020. Pre-pandemic, this event had been on a growth trajectory, so organizers were curious if the trend would continue after two years without an in-person event. Much to the AACFB’s delight, the 2022 Commercial Financing Expo did not disappoint.
The event garnered more than 300 registrations and experienced a 20% increase in attendance over the 2019 event and a 50% increase over the inaugural expo in 2018. More than 120 brokers kept the sold-out exhibit hall busy throughout the two-day event. Expo-goers also raved about the M Resort as the host hotel and the exceptional food served. With multiple dining options, an expansive pool and, of course, a casino, there was no need for attendees to leave the resort.
The AACFB is the premier trade association focused on supporting independent commercial finance brokers, their funding partners and service providers. This dedication to the industry drove the agenda for the event, which kicked off with a Women in Finance breakfast. Close to 60 women in the commercial finance industry gathered for breakfast and mimosas for the event, enjoying stunning views of the Las Vegas Strip and the surrounding mountains.
Networking & Educational Opportunities
Exhibit time immediately followed the breakfast, with 60 funding sources and service providers informing attendees on a broad range of financial products. Between exhibit hours and networking opportunities, attendees had ample time to make essential connections thanks to efforts by the planning committee, which was chaired by Katie Baker, CLFP, from MC2 Finance and supported by committee members Barbara Griffith from Southern California Leasing; Theresa Kabot, CLFP, from Kabot Commercial Leasing; Harmony Oswald from Oswald Law Firm; and Vickie Rocco from Entegra Capital, as well as board liaisons Laura Estrada from Preferred Capital Funding and Carrie Radloff, CLFP, from American Financial Partners. Together they developed an outstanding lineup of educational sessions.
Day one included no fewer than seven educational offerings including:
Pros and Cons of Working with Super Brokers
This panel discussion explored the topic of “super brokers” and when their services might be a good fit for a broker. Super brokers are not always the first choice, but there may be situations in wich a broker can benefit from their connections and expertise.
Fraud Detection and Prevention
Unfortunately, bad actors are ever-present in the commercial finance realm. This panel addressed how brokers and funders can identify such parties and help protect others in the industry from getting burned. Together, the commercial finance community can help to reduce the occurrences of fraud.
Tech Trends and Cyber Security
The tech-savvy team at Taycor Financial shared strategies for using technology to improve the customer experience, making it smoother and easier. Attendees learned of problems they can face and the solutions they can employ.
TradeRiver Sponsor Presentation
AACFB Gold Sponsor TradeRiver got attendees up to speed on how it goes about funding the complete supply chain for a deal and how brokers can use its STEPS Platform for seamless transactions.
How to Sell in a Rising Rate Environment
This experienced panel informed attendees on how to address client expectations in today’s high-rate environment.
Pros and Cons of Funder Portals
This lively discussion addressed the benefits of using funder portals and some of the headaches brokers are experiencing with them. Presenters highlighted the efficiencies gained while acknowledging some of the growing pains.
The luncheon on day one was packed as attendees listened intently to a panel discussion on the ever-changing and stress-inducing topic of disclosure laws, which was presented by AACFB’s legal counsel, Ken Greene, as well as AACFB broker Joe Schmitz, CLFP, from F.I.T. Leasing and AACFB funding source Kit West from C.H. Brown Co. No doubt this topic will remain front and center at future events as developments unfold.
To cap the day off in style, attendees gathered in the LUX, the M Resort’s private event space overlooking the Las Vegas Strip, which glowed magnificently as the sun set. Amazing food, drinks and company were enjoyed by all. It was the perfect ending to a productive day. While some called it a night after the reception, others ventured out to catch a show, try their luck in the casino or just take in all that Las Vegas has offer.
Day Two Did Not Disappoint
The second day of the expo started everyone off with a hearty breakfast followed by exhibit time. A bloody mary bar was on hand as an added pick-me-up as attendees made their way around to any exhibitors they missed from the day before.
Educational programming continued, with sessions including:
How to Compete Against Online Lenders/Lines of Credit
Customers have a lot of options for financing these days. This session talked through how brokers can compete against other lending options, such as online lenders, banks, lines of credit and credit cards.
Fintech — Automated Underwriting Services
Many automated underwriting services are coming onto the scene these days. This discussion covered how these systems work and how brokers can take advantage of them.
What Makes a Great Funder/Broker
The relationships between brokers and funders are key to a long-standing career in commercial finance. This session shared the results of a recent survey which identified the most important qualities for successful relationships between brokers and funders.
The two-day lineup of education was topped off with two in-depth boot camps. Marketing expert Kristi Schon from Channel dove into an approach to branding and strategies that will help companies stand out from the pack and guide more impactful messaging that resonates with their target audiences. Attendees went home with tips to avoid the pitfalls of sameness.
The second boot camp focused on recession-proofing brokerages. Industry veterans Bud Callahan, CLFP, from National Equipment Leasing, Wade Rasmussen from Amerifund and Scott Wheeler, CLFP, from Wheeler Business Consulting shared insights on how they weathered the last recession and the many ups and downs in the economy. Attendees found out how they have kept their businesses surviving and thriving through it all and what today’s finance professionals can do to keep their businesses healthy and prosperous through any period of economic volatility.
Attendees left the event already making plans to attend the 2023 expo, which will be held Sept. 20-21, 2023, at the luxurious Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, FL.
“This year’s AACFB Commercial Financing Expo exceeded expectations and makes us just that much more excited to see what the 2023 expo will bring,” Laura Estrada, president of the AACFB, said. “We greatly appreciate all of the volunteers and sponsors who make these events possible. It is always a pleasure to see our industry colleagues come together to support one another and the industry.”
As the AACFB Commercial Financing Expo continues to grow, it is certain to take its place among the other “must attend” events in the commercial finance industry.
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