Cultivating Change: Converge Inspires the Digital and Innovative Future of Equipment Finance

by Brianna Wilson Mar/Apr 2024
Converge is, as Lisa Rafter puts it, “the most fun you’ll ever have at an industry event.” Featuring crowdsourced, dynamic discussions, Converge is designed to get ahead of upcoming disruption and ensure that the equipment finance industry is “future-proof,” all while intimately connecting forward thinking industry leaders and celebrating the sector’s outstanding accomplishments.

Brianna Wilson,

Converge started as a simple celebration of Monitor’s 50th anniversary. In the midst of planning the 2023 event, it occurred to Lisa Rafter, publisher and CEO of Monitor, that because Converge was drawing in leaders from across the industry, “we might as well add an opportunity to ideate and learn together,” Rafter says. “As we started exploring ways to do that, we came up with this organic crowdsourced type of conference, and we
pulled it off!”

Monitor decided to host Converge again this year, on May 15-16 in Philadelphia, to continue this imperative work of creating the future. In an interview with Monitor, Rafter and Bill Verhelle, founder and CEO of QuickFi, describe what attendees can expect from the unique, dynamic conference.


Peter Hinssen, a master of startup technology and a frequent researcher of innovation in legacy organizations, will set the foundation for day one’s discussions. Hinssen’s book, “The Phoenix and the Unicorn,” will be the primary source of his keynote. “When I read Peter’s books, I said to myself: ‘He wrote these for equipment finance,’” Rafter says. “What he writes about is really going to set the tone and the foundation for the two-day event.” These insights include what Hinssen knows from other industries and what it could look like for equipment finance to be similarly disruptive and innovative.

“When you grow up in an industry, you have certain predispositions, beliefs and prejudices because you’ve always been in that industry and things have always worked a certain way,” Verhelle says. Verhelle believes Hinssen’s work will pull attendees out of this thought loop to begin drawing inspiration from what other industries have accomplished and transition to emerging new business models.


Hinssen’s keynote will inspire the following panel, moderated by Verhelle, featuring Mike Jones, president of First Citizens Bank; Kelly Furia, head of global marketing and experience at DLL; and Ellen Comeaux, who recently retired from her role as senior vice president and commercial division leader at EverBank. Hinssen will also sit on the panel to continue sharing his insights while Jones, Furia and Comeaux ground his ideas in equipment finance to truly connect the dots — particularly the unique challenges the industry faces — for attendees.

Verhelle designed the Converge panel to be authentic, provocative and informative. “There’s really no preparation other than to be provocative, be interesting and get the audience involved in the discussion,” Verhelle says. It’s much like other Converge sessions, in which the important preparation is getting participants into an inspired and authentic mindset.


Following the panel discussion with industry leaders, when “everybody’s wheels are turning,” attendees will begin collaborative work. They will discuss their takeaways in small groups and consolidate the most important ideas from the morning’s speakers. With a combination of post-it notes and technology, attendees will submit key topics they hope to discuss with other industry leaders in breakout sessions. “It’s crowdsourced, organic content,” Rafter says. “I love this part because it’s a bit chaotic, but it’s so honest. It provides industry leaders with rare, high-level interaction with industry peers.”

Verhelle echoes Rafter’s love for this part of the event. “Converge takes the best of the collegiality and the willingness and interest to work together and raises it to a level where the content is very strategic and involves executive-level thinking,” Verhelle says. “It’s the kind of event that you’d want to pay a little bit of money for and take the time out of your calendar to travel to Philadelphia, clear your mind and participate with people you know and respect.”

This work, including the breakout discussions — three rounds of five to six simultaneous discussions to choose from — will fill the remainder of day one. Each panelist will facilitate one of the first breakout sessions on topics such as developing innovative leaders and how to balance risk when there’s an imperative to innovate. Other facilitators “will be people you know — leaders who bring a lot of cutting-edge thinking to the industry,” Rafter says.


Inspired by feedback from 2023 attendees, who wished for an additional, deeper piece of Converge they could tangibly take back to their companies, Converge will include a fullday workshop led by Hinssen and Deborah Reuben, founder and CEO of TomorrowZone. Attendees will roll up their sleeves to engage in hands-on work designed to explore practical application of day one’s ideas.

Another surprise feature of the event is the new “Tech Talks,” which will introduce attendees to cutting-edge technology companies — from within and outside of the industry — that can solve challenges and make a difference. Attendees will have a chance to interact with each company following its five-minute presentation, which will offer insights about what could change the digital and transformational landscape of equipment finance.


The final piece of Converge is the awards gala, which, following last year’s conference, many have referred to as the “Oscars” of equipment finance. For Rafter, the gala is “the cherry on top.” While Converge’s daytime events attack where the industry is and explore what the industry can be, the gala takes a step back to celebrate how far the sector has come and acknowledge the achievements of leaders, teams and rising stars. With the conference located in Old City Philadelphia, Converge attendees will walk by the Liberty Bell, see Independence Hall and enjoy the city at a gorgeous time of year. “If you’re thinking about coming to Converge, consider the opportunity to not only be among some of the best leaders in equipment finance, but to be in a beautiful part of Philadelphia and have what I think are the most important conversations to be having right now,” Rafter says.


Converge is intentionally heavy with free-flowing, dynamic content because it’s designed to mirror the future. “There’s a lot of depth and a lot of content, but really we’re looking to create the future — and that’s what it looks like,” Rafter says. Verhelle agrees, “It’s a pretty complicated agenda, but it seems simple when you’re an attendee, and it’s exceptionally worthwhile.” •

Visit to learn more about the event and to register.

Brianna Wilson is editor of Monitor.

Leave a comment

No categories available

No tags available