Building a Bright Future While Staying True to ELFA Roots
wants you to know more about the benefits of your ELFA membership. The new ELFA Chairman believes that understanding the tools and resources that the organization offers members is the best way to help people advance in their careers and attract new talent to the industry overall.
In fact, that yearning to expand his network and learn more about the industry was exactly what brought Snyder to ELFA. He had been working at BMO since 1994—in commercial banking roles, and then specifically in the equipment finance company—but realized he didn’t know many people in the equipment finance industry. So, in 2006, he attended an ELFA bank and large-ticket finance event. He was immediately hooked.
Snyder felt like he had found kindred souls who were as engaged in the profession as he was. They were surprisingly open about their careers, their challenges and even what their companies were doing. That openness helped him professionally and drove him to get more involved with the organization.
Snyder, now President of the BMO Harris Equipment Finance Company, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has been deeply involved in ELFA for over a decade and has served on the Board of Directors since 2011. In addition to his current position on the ELFA Board, Snyder serves on ELFA’s Executive, Audit, Nominating and Personnel Committees. He previously served as Board Treasurer (2014-2015), as Board Liaison to the association’s Emerging Talent Advisory Council (2014-2016) and as Chair of the Financial Institutions Business Council Steering Committee (2010).
Although he’s been involved with ELFA for years, Snyder says he still finds learning opportunities and value in every association event he attends. He wants more industry members to find the same camaraderie and opportunities he has discovered.
“Engagement for our member companies is critical, as well as educating them about the different components of what we provide, whether it’s federal and state advocacy work, survey and equipment finance data that’s available to all members in the Monthly Leasing and Finance Index, or all of the educational seminars, conferences and workshops. A primary goal for my year as Chair is really driving that engagement and education transparency for our membership,” he says.
Cultivating the Next Generation
Keeping current members engaged does more than just strengthen the bonds with those currently involved in the organization. It also provides the industry with effective conduits to attract new talent to the ranks and build relationships with up-and-coming leaders, Snyder says. ELFA recently added language to its mission statement and strategic plan emphasizing the need for “new and diverse talent.”
Moderating the Q&A session with Dr. Larry Sabato at the 2018 ELFA Annual Convention
“As a symbol, [changing the mission statement] is important because words matter,” says Snyder. “It may seem minor for the Board to make this change, but by making this commitment visible, we show that we take it seriously.”
Snyder especially wants to cultivate greater gender, racial and ethnic diversity within the organization and the industry overall. He believes this reflects the roots of the industry, which has a long tradition of helping a wide array of small business owners. “This industry was built on entrepreneurialism and creativity, with a real focus on who is using these assets and how we can support them in growing their businesses and continuing to grow the economy,” he says.
Roughly five years ago, the Board formed the Emerging Talent Advisory Council (ETAC) to help cultivate interest in both the promising career opportunities in the equipment finance industry, as well as highlight the networking, professional development and other opportunities that exist within the association. Snyder, who served as Board Liaison to ETAC, says that as he has traveled to various regional conferences and roundtables, he sees rich opportunities to attract greater diversity within the membership. He notes enthusiastically that the association has also formed the ELFA Women’s Council, which is working to increase the participation and leadership of women across ELFA and the equipment finance industry.
Snyder is also proud of his work on the committee that in 2012 updated the Business Council Steering Committee (BCSC) charters. Today, the BCSCs are key components of ELFA and offer leadership opportunities for a broad range of member companies, giving them industry visibility and contacts.
Building for the Future
Snyder also has been active with the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation, serving as Board Liaison in 2016. He also has lent his expertise to the State of the Equipment Finance Industry Report, is a regular participant in the Foundation’s Monthly Confidence Index and has supported the Foundation as a donor. He believes the data the Foundation provides is critically important for members to gauge the state of the industry and make key decisions about the future of their businesses.
At the Women’s Council Reception at the 2018 ELFA Annual Convention
As the economy has strengthened over the past several years, the equipment finance industry has enjoyed a long period of robust business. Snyder is intent on helping members focus on the lessons they have learned from the past and prepare for the future.
“This association, the banking industry and commercial equipment finance specifically have been living through really strong and positive economic times over the last five to seven years,” he says. “It’s up to us to start thinking about whether we are planning properly for what we know must be coming next.”
By discussing how to weather the next recession now, he hopes that members will be better able to weather future economic volatility.
Snyder has good reason to be focused on the future. With five children high-school age and younger, he is hopeful for the opportunities ahead of them, as well. When he’s not on a sports sideline or spending time with his family, he can usually be found on the golf course or reading. Recent favorites include I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
, the story of education activist Malala Yousafzi, and The Dinosaur Artists: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Search for the Earth’s Ultimate Trophy,
which explores the dynamic between science and commerce through the sale of a prized dinosaur skeleton.
As he looks toward 2019, Snyder is hopeful that he can continue to shape the ELFA story, helping the organization make new progress toward its goals. “We want to keep reminding people and companies in our industry how important it is to innovate, to be entrepreneurs and to be creative in helping their companies grow that way,” he says.