ELFA - Equipment Leasing and Finance Association - Equipping Business for Success
Equipment Leasing & Finance

5 Ripple Effects of Training

2024_5 Ripple Effects of Training_800x451 


Why programs like ELFA’s new online courses are essential to your organization’s health

Employee learning and development are more essential today than ever.* To meet a growing demand for training in the equipment finance industry, later this spring ELFA will launch a series of online courses specifically targeted toward the skills and information new equipment finance professionals need. The courses are part of a long-term plan that was developed after ELFA conducted an extensive audit of its education and training portfolio to ensure it is meeting member needs [see "Ready to Learn? ELFA Unveils New Online Courses" below].

Effective training—both from ELFA and other sources—offers benefits to employers seeking to reduce the skills gap while developing and retaining employees who are eager to learn new skills to advance in their roles. Here are five important ways equipment finance leaders say the “training ripple effect” will strengthen your team and company.

1. Filling your talent pipeline

At Mitsubishi HC Capital America, Inc., junior employees and those new to the industry are encouraged to take ELFA’s Fundamentals of Equipment Leasing and Finance—a self-paced, two-hour online course—to help them get a comprehensive view of the industry.

“It’s a wonderful introduction for folks who have not been part of this industry for any length of time,” says Joni Kovac, Executive Vice President, Human Resources and Chief Human Resources Officer of the Norwalk, Connecticut-based company.

 

Beyond that, she says it’s critical for her team to be mindful of the skills they have within their teams—as well as those that need to be developed. By identifying high-potential employees and assessing the skills they need to develop to be successful and advance, the Mitsubishi HC Capital America team can build a solid succession plan to keep filling their talent pipeline.


“[ELFA’s] basic courses accelerated [our employee’s] knowledge of the industry, and how comfortable she could be in her job.”
— Ken McCullough, GTC Equipment Finance, LLC
At Pitney Bowes Global Financial Services in Stamford, Connecticut, the team has access to an internal collection of training resources, including some from ELFA, called PB University. The company has curated content and learning modules specific to various roles within the organization. Training can be tracked, and specific training can be identified and recommended to strengthen an employee’s skills or performance.

2. Meeting employee needs

Team members want training to help set them up for success. According to a 2024 research report by TalentLMS, a learning management software company, 66% of employees believe they need to develop new skills to be successful in their jobs and 41% of employees will look for another job this year if their employer does not offer training opportunities.

At GTC Equipment Finance, LLC, Director of Financial Services Ken McCullough says that access to training for his team was one of the reasons his startup joined ELFA. And the impact on employees is real. He points to a new hire he made a few years ago—a new financial services administrative manager who was new to the industry. “We were a new upstart company with not a lot of procedures or guidelines,” he recalls. The new employee took several ELFA training courses and her confidence level skyrocketed, he says. “Those basic courses accelerated her knowledge of the industry, and how comfortable she could be in her job,” he says.


“If you don’t address all the needs of your employees, they’re just not going to be as engaged and their experience with your company is going to be limited. They won’t stay.”
— Joni Kovac, Mitsubishi HC Capital America, Inc.

Jenaleigh Lathrop, Equipment Finance Trainer at Arvest Equipment Finance (AEF) in Fort Smith, Arkansas, has also seen the interest in—and impact of—employee training first-hand. Lathrop helped create the company’s “AEF Acceleration Program,” which is a training curriculum that takes associates through the various roles at AEF and helps them understand what each team within the division does. It helps them identify where they want to go professionally within the division—for example, into credit or documentation areas—so managers can help team members define a path to get there, she says. Each year, the program content changes based on the participants.
 
“At the end of the program, an associate is going to have a better understanding of what they want to do—and what they don’t, and how they fit within the whole picture,” Lathrop says. “It’s like you’re looking at a puzzle, and you’re seeing where your piece fits.” The three employees who went through the very first AEF Acceleration Program have all moved on to new roles within the division, she adds.

3. Building culture

At Woodland Hills, California-based CHG-MERIDIAN USA Corp., among the company’s foundational principles are its commitment to people and culture. “We have an ethos called ‘It’s about you,’” says Mona Safa, Head of People and Culture, USA and Canada. “Our people and culture teams strive to attract, develop and retain top talent, empowering them to deliver exceptional value to our internal and external customers and drive strategic priorities forward.” Through training initiatives, Safa says that CHG MERIDIAN USA equips its diverse workforce with the knowledge and skills necessary to drive the company forward, while also moving team members closer to their own aspirations and living up to its ethos.

For Mitsubishi HC Capital America, training also serves the purpose of bridging the cultures of three companies, Kovac says. Over the past few years, a series of mergers has had the new entity integrating three companies into one. Training helps the new entity meet the needs of employees and ensure uniformity in skill sets. It also provides access to support, resources and information to meet employee needs, ranging from learning industry knowledge, core competencies and internal policies to managing stress.


“We’ve been really proactive with wellness programs—physical wellness, mental wellness—and have integrated wellness learning topics into our training programs.”
— Elizabeth Ritchie, Pitney Bowes Global Financial Services

The company’s training portal includes a wide range of learning opportunities, including courses, articles, podcasts, webinars and more.  “If you don’t address all the needs of your employees, they’re just not going to be as engaged and their experience with your company is going to be limited. They won’t stay,” she says.

At Pitney Bowes Global Financial Services, the approach to training also fosters employee relationships and connection. Part of the training program includes “conversation cafés,” where employees gather virtually to discuss a training topic. “We do polls and chats. Employees participate in the discussion. Then, they make a commitment to go and apply what they’ve learned,” HR Director Elizabeth Ritchie says. That person-to-person interaction and application both reinforce learning.

4. Keeping your team current

As generative artificial intelligence (gen AI) changes the way so many industries work and process information, keeping up with the fast pace of change can be a challenge. Virtually every member interviewed cited gen AI as a key area of interest—in other words, a “hot topic”—within their training systems. Other key areas of interest include leadership, navigating change, innovation and automation.

Pitney Bowes Global Financial Services also includes wellness as an area of focus in its training. “We’ve been really proactive with wellness programs—physical wellness, mental wellness—and have integrated wellness learning topics into our training programs,” Ritchie says. Through the company’s training portal, employees can access lessons and even virtual workout sessions.


“Empowered and skilled employees contribute directly to our company’s overall performance and bottom line.”
— Mona Safa, CHG-MERIDIAN USA Corp.

McCullough uses his weekly meetings as training opportunities, reviewing challenges and missteps so the team can learn from them. “If we have a repossession that goes all the way through us liquidating it, establishing a loss, those type of things, then I always use those as teachable moments now,” he says. The key is to keep the conversation positive and curious rather than to try to “punish” anyone. He also encourages his team to establish a network of peers from whom they can learn and to stay up on industry news.

5. Helping the bottom line

For organizations, training and developing a holistic learning culture can also have a direct impact on efficiency, productivity and even profitability. Safa recalls a CHG-MERIDIAN USA employee who was supported in obtaining external training to get her project management certification. After obtaining her certification, Safa says the employee used her enhanced skills to play a pivotal role improving various facets of operations, including the sales team’s performance, customer and vendor integration, onboarding and change management. “So, this tangible impact not only underscores the value of our investments, but also demonstrates how empowered and skilled employees contribute directly to our company’s overall performance and bottom line,” Safa says.


“The fact that ELFA is pouring time and money into helping provide this training so that people entering this industry actually get this holistic view of how they’re part of this bigger world of equipment finance is exciting.”
— Jenaleigh Lathrop, Arvest Equipment Finance

And Kovac says the turnover savings by offering training content cannot be ignored. By preparing the next generation of employees and ensuring they have what they need to achieve their goals, you’re going to keep employees longer. And that not only helps the company perform better, but it also saves money. “Employees—their salary expense and benefits and all that—is probably one of the biggest line items in the budget there is. So, if you’re spending that much money, you also want to invest in those people, because those are your subject matter experts, and you really can’t execute your business plan without them,” Kovac says.


“Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned pro, ELFA is here to support your learning and career journey. That’s why we’re excited to introduce these new courses.”
— ELFA President and CEO Leigh Lytle

Lathrop says ELFA’s training efforts are a good thing for the industry. “The fact that ELFA is pouring time and money into helping provide this training so that people entering this industry actually get this holistic view of how they’re part of this bigger world of equipment finance is exciting,” she says.

Ready to Learn? ELFA Unveils New Online Courses

Last year, ELFA worked with an outside expert to conduct an extensive audit of the association’s training and education portfolio.

The audit process started with ELFA asking members about their needs: what they need to train new employees and make progress in their careers. The feedback collected has helped the association reimagine the existing approach to education and training programs to appeal to a broad range of prospective talent.

In addition, the process helped ELFA uncover tools that can be deployed to use technology to deliver learning and development—while also helping the association become more efficient and effective on behalf of members.

As a result of the audit, ELFA is launching a series of new courses to enhance its educational offerings and meet member needs. The new courses, coming later this spring, will be a comprehensive resource for understanding the equipment finance industry, building essential skills and developing talent.

“Our number one priority is helping our members succeed,” said ELFA President and CEO Leigh Lytle. “And to do that, it’s super important to make sure industry talent gets the right training. Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned pro, ELFA is here to support your learning and career journey. That’s why we’re excited to introduce these new courses—with more to come. It’s an important step in reimagining our education and training.”

The new members-only courses and resources are focused on getting users up-to-speed and prepared to progress in their careers. Topics range from general industry information to the specifics of leases versus loans, the benefits of equipment finance, types of equipment finance organizations, understanding market segments, and the three lenses of equipment finance. (These courses will be added to existing courses on Equipment Finance Transaction Lifecycle and Understanding the Master Lease Agreement.) The courses are free for members, with new courses to be added regularly, creating informative, industry-specific content to develop the next generation of industry talent.

*According to LinkedIn’s 2024 Workplace Learning Report, 90% of organizations are concerned about employee retention, and providing learning opportunities is the top retention strategy. Companies with strong learning cultures have a 57% increase in employee retention over baseline learning and development initiatives and experience a 23% increase in internal mobility.

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