The State of the Evolving Equipment Finance Industry: Changes That Will Outlast the Pandemic

by Tom Schied

Tom Schied is the Director of Asset Management for TD Equipment Finance and is based in Abington, PA. Tom is a Senior Accredited Appraiser and has been in the leasing industry for more than 30 years. His interests include reading, singing and hockey. Tom is on several boards that combat homelessness and assist with financial literacy.

As we move ahead in 2022, digitization and the implementation of technologies to increase operational efficiency, like remote valuations, show no sign of slowing down.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been a multitude of changes across various industries – including restaurants adopting more mobile ordering and delivery than ever before and doctors pivoting to rely heavily on telehealth services – and the equipment finance industry has not been immune to these changes. The industry at-large has evolved its approach to attracting and retaining talent as well as experienced operational and technological shifts, which made it possible to successfully conduct business in an environment that limited physical interaction and encouraged remote work.

While some of these changes may be a sign of the current COVID-19 environment, others have improved industry efficiency and are sure to outlast the pandemic.

  • Expanded idea of flex work: Prior to the pandemic, most equipment finance leaders worked to ensure that new team members could physically come into the office every day. Over the last 18 to 20 months, industry leaders developed new ways to collaborate outside of the office. While it is still important to have in-person meetings, the pandemic has caused an industry shift and many leaders now believe that it may not be necessary for employees to be in the office every day. The pandemic truly changed the idea of flex work, which allows industry leaders to attract and retain top talent from a broader geographic radius.
  • Reliance on remote valuations: The pandemic served as a catalyst for the implementation of new tools for equipment valuations. Remote valuation technologies that rely on video were implemented. Once the valuation is conducted via video, it is saved in its entirety in the system, so there is video support of the conversation and valuation. While remote valuations reduce the need for travel and the cost for bankers and customers, the video records of these valuations were an unintended process improvement. While in-person valuations are still important, the future of the industry will likely include a combination of in-person and remote valuations based on the customer’s specific needs.
  • Utilization of video conferencing platforms for vendor engagement: Due to government mandates and the goal of minimizing the spread of the virus, bankers are utilizing video conferencing tools like WebEx and Zoom for vendor and customer engagement. However, once virus transmission concerns have minimized, this fully remote model is not likely to remain in place. The human element is crucial for vendors and customers and helps build relationships and ongoing trust. Moving forward, this engagement will likely consist of a hybrid mix of video conferencing and in-person visits.
  • Increased emphasis on digitization and limiting paper-based processes: Many equipment financing processes are traditionally paper-based, including the creation of working files. Prior to the pandemic, the Asset Management Group at TD digitized this process to create holistic, virtual working files. This digitization proved invaluable during the pandemic when the workforce became heavily remote, and colleagues needed to resume business quickly and efficiently for their customers. Digitization across many aspects of the industry, from working files to e-signature, has improved the speed and efficiency of these processes for customers and the industry at-large.

As we move ahead in 2022, digitization and the implementation of technologies to increase operational efficiency, like remote valuations, show no sign of slowing down. As a leader in the industry, TD Equipment Finance will continue to evolve its operations and practices to improve the overall customer experience.

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