Monitor’s first Disrupted+ conference of the 2020 series in Newport Beach, CA encouraged attendees to view the industry — and the future — through a new lens.
What does the “+” mean in a conference title? Maybe it means you will learn something new, plus, be inspired to think differently.
That was what many attendees said about the one-day conference hosted by the Monitor on February 25 in Newport Beach, CA. Fortunately, this gathering met ahead of the concerns reported later that week about the coronavirus, travel restrictions and a “virus recession.”
In her usual upbeat and authentic way, Deb Reuben, president of TomorrowZone (formerly Reuben Creative), served as program moderator throughout the day, introducing individual speakers, then engaging them in fireside chats.
This was the second in a series of Monitor Disrupted+ events. “The force of digital change is sweeping through the equipment finance industry and impacting the way we all do business. We believe this topic is vital to the future of those in our industry,” said Monitor publisher Lisa Rafter about the origin and purpose of this series.
Key take-aways from the morning session with Reuben and Charles Anderson, president of CurrencyPay:
• You should have a “technology watch list” that includes companies to watch like Carvana and Innovation Finance. “Follow those companies (not necessarily in our industry) that are boldly questioning and challenging the status quo,” Reuben said. She said recent discussions within the industry suggest leasing and finance could just become a utility.
• Adding “fire” to the fireside chat, Charles Anderson, president of CurrencyPay, said, “We need to transform from finance companies to technology companies.” If we do not do it fast enough, he added, Amazon could buy the industry. “There is no way this industry is going to stay the same…why? The borrower and business owner are the same.” He added, “Solve this: What is best for your customer, not what is best for your employee?”
Then, lightning struck, or in the new lingo of Monitor Disrupted+, it was time for a few five-minute sessions with new industry entrants that could help shake things up:
• Fincura, creator of a financial insight engine that extracts data from financial documents using AI and human judgment
• BrightReps, a company helping finance firms automate their processes
• TAO Solutions, a provider of software designed to empower the financial services industry with operational agility
Speakers on Leading Change
Denis Stypulkoski, senior vice president and CIO, TIAA Bank Commercial Finance Division, described the digital product mindset necessary to replace project thinking. He said a lifecycle approach is critical. Under Stypulkoski’s leadership, his company created a digital products team with people who, like him, have insatiable curiosity. They explore the journey of their customers against an inventory of capabilities and deliverables. He said, “you need to start acting like a start-up to become the next Uber of the industry.”
Tawnya Stone, vice president, Strategic Technology, GreatAmerica Financial Services, a self-declared “change champion” who is also part of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s new innovation group, said: “It’s easy to do incremental change, but hard to look at the future and see it as very different from what it is today. And it’s hard to fix something that is working.”
“How do you convince someone to spend money on something that’s not broken?” GreatAmerica’s EVP, CFO Joe Terfler was in the audience nodding with understanding as Stone spoke. She described re-organizing the company around various units — each with its own marketing leader. Stone talked about the positive nature of including people in the process so they don’t feel like the subject of change, but rather the producers of it.
Steve Riggs, president of Advanced Solutions at DLL, talked about managed services, but he said, let’s just call it “pay-per-use.” He showed two PWC pie charts showing how the new sharing models will represent 50 of the traditional rental market by 2025.
Riggs was asked how he gets “buy-in” from management for the change needed to succeed. He said he doesn’t like that phrase. “Go for commitment,” he urged. “What you need is time and board members committed to giving you the time” to develop this new model of business. DLL is now on the cusp of booking its first few deals under the new business model he is leading.
A wrap-up session couldn’t be ignored, because speaker Jeff Willmore, founder of an entrepreneurial course that empowers organizations to reach higher levels of performance, came down from the podium challenging the audience to discover new ways to reframe uncomfortable leadership situations with greater self-awareness.
“Vuja De moments” was a new term introduced by Reuben earlier in the day to say it is like déjà vu backwards and represents when parts of our industry can be seen through a new lens. Based on the feedback from attendees, there were a few of those moments stimulated and perhaps more to come. Here are a sampling:
“I think that was one of the best future-looking meetings I have ever attended. Interesting things happening in our world,” said Wendy C. Menefee, vice president, program manager at Key.
“While I don’t think it’s unusual to hear why change is implemented, I believe it is rare to find an event in which the disruptors are so willing to share how they implemented change. The Monitor knocked it out of the park with the Newport lineup, full of thought leaders secure enough in their success they are willing to share their knowledge to better the industry as a whole. I am excited to see what the Disrupted events continue to have in store for us,” said Stephanie Hall, EVP, small-ticket, BankFinancial Equipment Finance.
“I like the regional one-day concept of this conference. It makes it possible to put the pause button on your daily work and take a little time to think bigger, to look at ways to break the mold on how we lead. I definitely walked away with some fresh ideas and appreciated some of the courageous new concepts shared by the presenters,” said David A. Normandin, president and chief executive officer of Wintrust Specialty Finance.
More than eighty professionals representing a diverse mix of people based on gender, age and roles in their respective companies were in attendance. Sponsors included TIAA Bank, IFS LeaseWorks, Fincura, MMedia, BankFinancial, Mantrapoynt, Tamarack, BankFinancial, BrightReps and TAO Solutions.