An Association Evolves: The NAELB Expands to Become the AACFB – Article | Equipment Finance Advisor

At the opening reception of the 2018 National Association of Equipment Leasing Brokers (NAELB) annual conference in Las Vegas last April, then-NAELB President Rodney Blecha announced to attendees that the organization had changed its name to the American Association of Commercial Finance Brokers (AACFB).
 
The NAELB was founded by a group of equipment leasing brokers in the fall of 1990. Alarmed about fraud in the equipment leasing industry, they wanted to meet face-to-face to figure out a way to stop it. After gathering at the Atlanta airport they were no closer to ending fraud, but they did leave with an idea, a very big idea—to form an association for brokers, by brokers.
 
That November, the group reconvened to determine the goals and objectives of the organization, which included reducing fraud, offering member benefits, developing funding-source relationships, creating a code of ethics, and promoting success through association.
 
By 1991 the association had become a reality, and the first NAELB Annual Conference was convened. In the beginning, yearly membership was only $250, and member benefits included discounted long-distance phone service and credit bureau reports. At the conference, 27 funding sources attended a mixer with equipment leasing brokers. The workshop topic covered fraud, and NAELB legal counsel Barry Marks gave a presentation on “Legal Liabilities and Pitfalls.”
 
Over the next 25 years, the NAELB grew from a handful of brokers to over 400 members, including not only brokers but also funding sources and associates. Along the way, the association has helped cultivate thousands of successful careers. The annual conference became an event no broker wanted to miss, for they knew they’d leave with the tools not only to grow their business but to grow within their business. Sessions and workshops offered professional development opportunities, and many brokers found homes for difficult deals thanks to face-to-face networking with funding sources.
 
Members received additional benefits through group pricing discounts on items necessary to run a broker business, such as credit reports, UPS labels, and office supplies. Educational programs including mentoring for new brokers, distance learning for new and seasoned brokers, and a “Meet the Funder” webinar series provided many opportunities for continued education.
 
The NAELB’s Code of Ethics became an important guide in the industry, holding everyone to a higher standard. Knowing that a broker adhered to the Code—demonstrating honesty, professionalism, and integrity—appealed to funding sources, and gave them peace of mind that the deals NAELB brokers sent their way were legitimate. Vice versa, brokers working with NAELB funding source members knew they, too, adhered to the Code.
 
By 2017, due to an expanding industry, trends in technology, and the results of a member survey, the NAELB Board of Directors decided a change was needed to meet the demands of the evolving marketplace and membership. Working with a strategic planner, the board ushered in the transformation of the NAELB to the American Association of Commercial Finance Brokers, or AACFB.
 
To become more inclusive and grow as an association, the AACFB now welcomes all commercial finance brokers, where the NAELB was strictly for equipment leasing brokers. This means the products and services supported must grow as well, so instead of only supporting equipment leasing and financing, the AACFB has opened its doors to alternative finance products, including factoring, working capital, SBA lending, and trade finance.
 
The AACFB is also expanding in-person networking opportunities by adding the inaugural 2018 Commercial Financing Expo. The Commercial Financing Expo will be held September 6-7, at the Dallas/Plano Marriott Legacy Town Center in Dallas, and will be an innovative and informative event that is not to be missed.
 
The association’s Director at Large, Cindy Downs, will lead the overhaul of the organization’s educational resources, as well as the mentorship and distance-learning programs. Although a more comprehensive program is in the works, the AACFB will remain committed to offering new brokers learning opportunities, and will provide tune-ups for tenured members.
 
AACFB member benefits include 24/7 access to funding sources, a members-only online forum community, certifications in Best Practices and Ethics, and much more.
 
The result of this evolution is that the AACFB is more dedicated than ever to supporting the modern broker. As the approximately $1 trillion commercial finance industry shifts with the business climate of the 21st Century, successful brokers will be able to adapt to new finance regulations, utilize expanded funding products, and implement today’s technology solutions to streamline business. By undergoing the name and brand change, the AACFB has committed itself to adapt to these changes and to deliver the highest value to its members by remaining the first stop for the modern commercial finance broker.
 
AACFB thanks all of its members for their continued participation in the association. If you are not currently a member, or have been a member in the past, please visit AACFB’s website www.aacfb.org to learn more about the association’s renewed vision. 

As former NAELB President Rodney Blecha said during his toast at the opening reception of the 2018 annual conference:
 
“Now, we embrace a new vision together as the American Association of Commercial Finance Brokers. Still rooted in the early days and growing–with a new name and added direction. We look forward to the next chapter of brokers supporting brokers for the good of all its members for another 25 plus and beyond!”
 
And to that, as the first President of the AACFB, I say: “Hear! Hear!”
 
About American Association of Commercial Finance Brokers (AACFB)
The American Association of Commercial Finance Brokers (AACFB) is the premier trade association empowering independent commercial finance brokers. The AACFB represents the expanding interests of its growing membership by providing best practice education and networking opportunities, while promoting a culture of ethics. For more information visit: www.aacfb.org
 

 

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