ELFA Names Ware Winner of 2021 Michael J. Fleming Distinguished Service Award



The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association selected Thomas Ware to receive its 2021 Michael J. Fleming Distinguished Service Award. The award honors individuals who have made significant contributions to the association and the equipment finance industry. Ware, who is president of Tom Ware Advisory Services, will be formally recognized during a ceremony at the 60th ELFA Annual Convention in San Antonio in October.

“Over the past two decades, Tom has helped ELFA deliver market data and insights to our membership and highlight the value of the $900 billion equipment finance industry to the U.S. economy,” Ralph Petta, president and CEO of the ELFA, said. “It is an honor to present him with the Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to ELFA, the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation and the equipment finance industry.”

“I’m thrilled to be receiving this award from ELFA,” Ware said. “Throughout my career, first as a lender and chief credit officer, and later as a service provider, I’ve strived to find new and better ways of doing business, particularly by leveraging the power of data, analytics, systems and credit scoring. Doing this well requires real-world collaboration, and ELFA and the foundation have been absolutely essential in providing the environment necessary and conducive for such collaboration. Thank you to ELFA for making this possible.”

Ware has been an active member of the ELFA for many years, contributing to the mission of the association in a number of key areas. As an expert on small business credit and leveraging data and analytics for the commercial finance industry, he is a long-time member of the ELFA’s Credit & Collections Committee and a past member of the association’s Small Ticket Business Council Steering Committee.

Ware has been a champion of the association’s business and professional development programs. As an industry thought leader, he has served as a frequent speaker and facilitator at numerous ELFA events, including the Credit & Collections Conference, Annual Convention, Funding Conference and Operations & Technology Conference. He also has contributed to the association’s Executive, CFO, Bank and Captive and Vendor Finance Roundtables. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he has participated as a speaker in the ELFA’s Wednesday Webinars series. He also is a regular contributor to the association’s publications, including Equipment Leasing & Finance magazine.

In addition to his work with the ELFA, Ware is active with the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation. He currently serves as a member of the foundation’s board of trustees and executive committee and as chair of the foundation’s research committee. In this role, he leads development of the organization’s studies and research resources. Over the years, Ware has participated in the Industry Future Council and lent his insights to essential foundation reports, including those on financial technology, securitization, alternative financing, predictive analytics and credit scoring. Most recently, he spearheaded the design and analysis of the foundation’s COVID Impact and Recovery Survey.

As president of Tom Ware Advisory Services, Ware is an independent analytics, risk and credit scoring consultant. Prior to his current position, he served for 18 years as senior vice president of analytics and product development at PayNet, which was acquired by Equifax in 2019. In that role, he was responsible for the development of PayNet’s MasterScore and probability of default models, which have been used by hundreds of lenders to help make decision about millions of commercial loan and lease applications worth more than $300 billion. Ware was also responsible for creating loss forecasting models, peer lender performance benchmarking and strategic business reviews, and for developing a variety of research about commercial lending that appeared regularly at ELFA conferences as well as in print and television media outlets. Prior to PayNet, Ware spent 17 years as a lender with banks and finance companies, including as chief credit officer and senior vice president of operations at American Express Equipment Finance and as general manager of a division of J.I. Case/CNH Capital. He began his career with a Boston management consulting firm that became the New England office of Oliver Wyman.

In addition to the ELFA, Ware has contributed to a variety of other organizations. He served on the board of governors of the Risk Management Association’s Washington, D.C. and Maryland chapter and he has spoken at events organized by the Canadian Finance & Leasing Association, the National Equipment Finance Association and the Credit Card Roundtable. He also wrote “The 12 Secrets of Commercial Credit Scoring,” a three-part series of articles published in Monitor.

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