Evolutions Per Minute: Mollica Leads CIT Equipment Finance Forward
by Phil Neuffer Monitor 100 2018
With a depth of experience in the organization rivaling any of his contemporaries, Vince Mollica was the natural fit to become managing director of CIT’s Equipment Finance business. As he takes the lead for one of the biggest players in the industry, Mollica is out to put people first and continue to evolve.
Vince Mollica started 2018 with a bang, so to speak. The more-than-20-year veteran of CIT was named managing director of the Equipment Finance business in February, giving him the keys to one of the most productive vehicles in the industry. After all, CIT has enjoyed lofty positions in the Monitor 100 for years, reaching the No. 6 spot in 2015 and maintaining a top 10 standing in 2017 and 2018. CIT’s Equipment Finance business needed a steady and experienced hand steering the wheel. Mollica was the easy choice to fill the role.
Following the Path
When Mollica joined CIT in 1995, the company was in the “New Economy” phase of its development. Mollica helped with the process and has continued to do so for more than two decades. But before he got to CIT, he beefed up his own experience and expertise, which would later help him at the company he has served since before the turn of the century.
Mollica’s career began at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) with a heavy concentration in financial services, which he credits for shaping his path early on in terms of banking. After PwC, Mollica moved on to the real banking world, taking on the role of chief financial officer for a $5 billion commercial line of business within a regional bank. This is where his interest in leasing and lending began.
“I really became enamored with the dynamic nature of commercial lending and leasing as a result of that CFO role,” Mollica says.
Thanks to his accounting background, Mollica found his way to CIT through the Finance organization, where he supported corporate and individual business unit initiatives. This included drafting CIT’s S1 IPO offering document, which gave him a baseline under- standing of the company as a whole.
“[That] was a great opportunity for me because it got me underneath the covers of all of CIT’s businesses,” says Mollica, adding he later provided M&A and ABS support for CIT before going through CFO rotations for a number of those businesses.
When CIT acquired Newcourt Credit Group in 1999, Mollica was there to lend a hand, helping assimilate the acquisition with a primary focus on its vendor finance business. From there, it was only a matter of time before he would rise even higher.
“Post-integration, I was promoted into a major relationship manager role within vendor finance for two large OEMs and, quite frankly, that wrote the rest of the story,” Mollica says. “I’ve basically taken on increasing responsibility within vendor finance from that period forward.”
The Natural Pick
Titles on a resume aren’t the only things Mollica has gained from his career at CIT. As he nears his 20-year anniversary in the vendor finance space, he recognizes the strengths he brings to the table.
“I have developed a deep understanding of program development and negotiation, program management and program retention across all the various markets that Equipment Finance at CIT participates in,” Mollica says. “That experience, coupled with my strong financial acumen really facilitates my ability to quickly see the end game and arrive at decisions to drive the business. My financial background has been a huge help with pricing and structuring. It’s been a strength for me and a great mix for this business.”
Along with the experience and titles, Mollica has developed working relationships at CIT which should enable its continued prosperity. Mollica has a strong connection with Mike Jones, president of CIT’s Business Capital division, whom he reports to. In fact, Mollica plans to follow Jones’ lead in his approach.
“Mike is an extremely communicative and empowering leader who provides the resources necessary to be successful in this role. He also allows for autonomy and does not micro-manage,” Mollica says. “One of the things that I think is absolutely phenomenal is that he brought in a people-first culture, which has had a huge impact on the platform. It’s something that’s also very vital to me. People are the key to this organization. I fully intend to perpetuate what he’s started in terms of a people-first culture.”
Jones isn’t the only person Mollica can rely on. Boasting of the depth of experience of the market leaders he works with, Mollica is quick to note he has been able to hit the ground running in his new role.
“I have a great working relationship with all four of my seasoned market leads,” Mollica says. “We’ve been in the trenches together, side-by-side for a number of years, and we understand each other, and what’s important to the market. It’s been a very natural transition.”
If Not But for the Customer
People are obviously important to Mollica. It’s not just his co-workers either. It’s everyone involved in the process, including the customer. Mollica’s mantra for conducting business is “if not but for the customer.” His customer bases include the end-users he does business with and CIT’s business and vendor partners.
“The vendor finance business is a trust-relationship driven business, with the customer experience/journey key to driving recurrent origination volume,” Mollica says.
With a constantly shifting competitive landscape in the industry, Mollica understands the challenges, which is why he maintains this viewpoint on what it takes to succeed.
“Onboarding and building a relationship is really not an easy lift, and it’s forever subject to competitive pressure,” he says. “There’s always somebody knocking at the door. The choices that we make should always be informed by the impact that it will have on our customers, and our investments in the business (both in terms of time and dollars) need to be similarly influenced. If not but for the customer. That’s really what drives me.”
To best serve CIT’s customers, Mollica outlines a value proposition he likens to a stool with four legs. Those legs include 1) speed of play or making crisp decisions day in and day out, 2) being easy to do business with by developing people, process and systems to enhance the customer experience/journey, 3) the certainty to close achieved by consistently delivering on promises and 4) the capability to provide creative solutions with strong invoicing and asset management.
“We’re going to continue to focus on operational efficiency within the business and that’s going to further enhance our value proposition in the marketplace by allowing us to be more competitive,” Mollica says.
Since taking on his new role, Mollica has been hard at work keeping CIT on a path of success while introducing his own vision for the Equipment Finance group. Much of his work has involved — you guessed it — people. In his first 12 weeks, a major initiative has been “taking the pulse of equipment finance customers” to give him a better understanding of what his group is doing right and how it could improve.
“My primary focus in stepping into this position has been delivering on the asset and earnings objectives for the unit,” Mollica says. “Toward that end we’re off to a great start in Q1. We have seen notable year-over-year growth. With that said, however, we continue to evaluate and optimize the sales motion, structure and alignment to ensure that that type of result continues throughout the balance of 2018 and beyond.”
On a more specific level, Mollica’s experience in the industry — and his dedication to continuing to understand it — has shaped his priorities for the group. He started this before he was officially named managing director, with material investments made in late 2017 and January 2018 in business development resources across all industry verticals, a process Mollica says is already bearing fruit.
“Additionally, we intend to enhance our office imaging product offerings to drive both closer to partner alignment and mutual operating efficiencies through integration,” Mollica adds. “Further, all markets continue to pivot toward as-a-service offerings. We need to be on the forefront of providing financing solutions in support of these offerings, and we’re working tirelessly to develop structures and documentation in support of that shift. Lastly, we intend to better exploit capabilities that are offered across all of Business Capital, which is effectively Mike Jones’ broader business, and provide the best possible experience for our customers.”
While the short term is obviously the immediate focus, Mollica isn’t one to forget about the long game. As he takes a broader look at the equipment finance space, his cautiously optimistic viewpoint maintains a sharp attention to rising interest rates and their potential effect as well as the need to continue to make “leap frog” investments in operations — critical to both customer satisfaction and retention, and the offering of competitively priced products. He also knows CIT can grow in other ways and has specific plans for how to do so.
“We’re always open to considering both bolt-on portfolio and platform opportunities that present themselves to us,” he says. “I would also like to extend collateral expertise across the Industrial vertical, and I believe that exploiting adjacencies both up and down the supply chain, for all verticals is really of interest to us.”
Whether you are a third-party originator or a funding source/bank, the responsibility lies with all parties to build partnerships based on mutual trust, mutual commitment, shared ideas and common goals.