Changing the Conversation: Perry and Regions Equipment Finance Put Community First

by Rita Garwood Monitor 100 2017
One of Regions Equipment Finance’s core values is supporting economic development and growth in the communities it serves. As president, William Perry plans to take the company to the next level by instituting a policy of transparency, thoroughly evaluating processes and transforming sales reps into valuable consultants through education.

When GE Capital veteran William Perry was looking for a career change, he interviewed with several financial institutions, but Regions Bank and its equipment finance platform stood out above the rest.

“It’s a tremendous place to work, with unlimited opportunity. We’ve just begun to scratch the surface,” says Perry, who joined Regions in 2013, serving as a senior vice president and managing director before being promoted to president of Regions Equipment Finance (REFCO) in August 2016 upon the retirement of Bill Fite.

“When interviewing with Bill, I immediately noticed the strategic direction he was trying to take the organization. Bill did a tremendous job transforming our platform and making REFCO a much more embedded and relevant product partner to the bank. His shoes and personality are unfillable, but I look forward to carrying on his good work.”

Passionate for Principles

Perry has a “pure passion” for equipment finance. “At this time, it’s where I can make the most immediate impact for Regions and our shareholders,” he says. “My time at GE afforded me an opportunity to work alongside and learn from the top equipment finance minds in the world. We received extensive training in equipment finance, accounting, tax and strategic finance principles. My goal is to transfer these principles to our four go-to-market strategies.”

Core to REFCO’s go to market strategy is the direct channel led by National Sales Manager Bryan Grantham. Direct equipment finance reps are embedded within the geography to serve and partner with the bank and its client base. Second is REFCO’s syndication desk, which buys and sells paper between other financial institutions daily. Third is Regions Capital Advantage (RCA), a tax exempt platform that works with hospitals, schools and municipalities. RCA allows REFCO to diversify risk by adding high investment-grade profiles to its portfolio. The fourth and newest strategy is REFCO’s solar platform, which provides financing for large investment grade solar developments.

Next Step: Greater Heights

“My job now is to take REFCO to the next level,” Perry says. “We’re doing this through education, resulting in deeper client dialogue. We’re becoming more strategic about how we go to market, ensuring that we understand our clients’ needs which, in turn, allows us to bring solutions that add value.”

Perry believes it’s vital to keep in mind that today’s CFO role is ever expanding with increasing responsibilities. “CFOs today wear a number of different hats,” he says. “Often, they simply do not have the time to focus on equipment finance strategies that will affect their bottom line. Our job is to be the expert in our craft which allows our client base to be more competitive.”

To achieve that expertise, Perry created education roadmaps for REFCO’s staff outlining the next three years. “If there was anything I learned from my past employment, it was that expertise within your craft separates you from the rest of the field,” Perry says. “We’ve implemented robust education plans for all of our customer-facing RMs. The intent is to change the conversation we’re having with our clients and ensure we’re bringing strategies that help grow their business.”

Major changes are taking place at REFCO under Perry’s leadership as the company embarks on a strategy of transformation through education. “We’re transforming ourselves from equipment reps to consultants, from providing a service to providing smart ideas to both Regions and our client base,” Perry says. “Operationally, we’re undergoing a wing-to-wing strategy that is thoughtfully examining our back office processes allowing us to mitigate risk, cut cost and gain critical efficiencies.”

Power of Positive Energy

One of the most valuable leadership traits Perry has learned is the value of positive energy and its ability to energize others. “This eventually becomes infectious and allows our employees to exceed even their highest expectations,” he explains. “It’s rewarding to see our employees learn, grow and stay challenged.”

From a cultural perspective, Perry believes a dynamic, high-energy environment built on solid fundamentals will allow for thought leadership and continually challenge employees. “I am a believer that some of our best ideas come from those closest to the situation,” he says. “So we’re creating an environment that fosters an ownership mentality, empowering employees to contribute towards our future growth, that level of accountability is very powerful.”

Perry also strives to continually provide and seek feedback. “I think it helps to validate that communication channels are open between employees and leadership. This ensures we’re all going in the same direction,” he says. “As a result, we know how we can serve them as leaders and our employees always understand our goals and objectives.”

Industry Outlook

“There is certainly a sense of renewed optimism within our client base and the equipment finance sector,” Perry says. “Our forecast for the remainder of 2017 is optimistic as we’re seeing renewed organic growth and companies reinvesting back in their businesses.”

Perry sees the current regulatory environment as a potential challenge facing the industry. “The additional workload burden regulation has added to financial institutions is a bit concerning,” he says. “If future regulation can slow just a bit, I think we’ll see institutions become more efficient in handling new regulatory responsibilities. That said, a little de-regulation would be nice as well.”

Core Values

No matter what happens on a federal level, Perry says REFCO remains committed to serving locally. “RCA is very important to REFCO because it allows Regions an additional vehicle to invest back into the communities where we live and work by supporting economic development and growth.”

“I have yet to work for an institution that has such an inspired employee base and extraordinary core values,” Perry says, adding that Regions’ values include enjoying life, doing what is right, focusing on the customer and putting people first. “Our corporate values are lived out each day by all of our employees, which makes Regions a tremendous place to work.”

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