Honoring the Past to Celebrate the Future:
The CFA Rebrands as the Secured Finance Network
The Commercial Finance Association made a big splash at the end of 2018 when it announced its intention to rebrand as the Secured Finance Network. But, as CEO Rich Gumbrecht and President Dave Grende explain, the rebranding is just the latest in a series of moves to reflect where the organization actually is, as opposed to where it had been.
By Michele Ocejo and Amanda Koprowski
Ben Franklin said, “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” CFA’s CEO, Rich Gumbrecht, clearly adheres to this belief. Under his leadership, the Commercial Finance Association will be rebranding in 2019 and will be known as the Secured Finance Network. The change is the latest in a series of ambitious endeavors by the CFA since Gumbrecht took the helm as interim CEO in January 2017 before accepting the position permanently in October the same year.
“Trade associations, in general, need to stay relevant to the next generation of leaders and CFA is no exception. We’ve made great strides in the past two years in improving our financial health, increasing member engagement, delivering increased value and creating a more inclusive environment to perpetuate the vitality of the organization,” Gumbrecht explains. “Rebranding is a natural next step in our evolution. Our new name and visual identity respect our heritage while at the same time better reflect the dynamic and diverse community we are today. It’s so much more than just a name change. It’s about what we do, how we do it and the positive impact we have on our members.”
This will include networking and connecting communities to drive business, generate opportunities and foster long-term relationships, whether enabled locally, nationally or globally, in person or through CFA’s redesigned website, which will launch in the summer.
“Our new name and brand system will help us own the attributes people value and will enable us to be thought of in ways we’d like to be known,” says Gumbrecht. “The name is simple, explicit and contemporary. It’s more specific than ‘commercial finance’ and reinforces our breadth and interconnectedness to the entire secured finance universe. It’s also a clear departure from the more dated ‘association’ tag.”
According to CFA’s 2019 President Dave Grende, the planning on the re-brand has been going on for some time, with an announcement made to the membership in June 2018, several months before the public rollout.
“At the national level, we’ve felt for some time that the current brand, including the logo and look and feel, was tired and out of date. That’s what happens when you’re 75 years old,” says Grende. “When we started thinking about all the positive change going on at the CFA — more inclusiveness, new programming, a diverse set of constituents, new valuable information resources — we thought that this was the time to go all in and do something that would be both energizing and reinvigorating.”
Gumbrecht points out that the 2018 decision to include service providers as members also played a role in the rebranding. “Changing from ‘association’ to ‘network’ better describes our value proposition. It’s inclusive of factors, service providers, asset-based lenders, our chapters and other important members of our ecosystem. As our world evolves, this word is a better fit.”
Members and constituents won’t notice many alterations at the start, with most major changes coming later in 2019. According to Grende, an outside firm, Sametz Blackstone Associates, was chosen to guide the year-long process after the CFA saw the successful work the company did on the Gordon Brothers rebranding.
“The reimagined CFA places an emphasis on quantifiable outcomes. We want to ensure we are delivering measurable value to our community,” says Gumbrecht. “We’ll continue to grow awareness and excitement until we officially change our name and launch our new brand later this year, leading up to our 75th annual convention in New York.”
Even before the rebrand announcement was made, 2018 was a busy year for the organization, with the CFA Education Foundation playing a significant role.
“Over this past year, the Foundation was restructured and just published, with assistance from Ernst & Young, its first comprehensive Market Sizing & Impact Study of the secured finance universe. This study shows the impact our industry has on our economy and will be a valuable tool for attracting capital, as well as planning and expanding our advocacy efforts,” says Gumbrecht.
“The study is really the first stage of a coming-out party for the Secured Finance Network and the Secured Finance Foundation,” adds Grende. “We will begin promoting the findings to both old and new constituents, and when the new website comes online, they’ll get a better taste for what’s in store in our key areas of networking, education, information and advocacy.”
The Foundation’s plans for 2019 also include further expansion of information resources and the launch of a scholarship and internship program for disadvantaged college students. The CFA has also significantly invested in its education programming.
“We’re updating the curriculum and exploring different formats and delivery options that better align with our members’ busy lives,” said Gumbrecht. “We’ve also been ramping up our advocacy efforts to support our member interests on impactful issues, including proposed federal legislation on bankruptcy reform and customer/client disclosure requirements at the state level.”
Both Gumbrecht and CFA’s 2018 president, Michael Monk, made CFA’s chapter network a priority over the last twelve months. “Our chapters are thriving thanks to the dedicated chapter leaders. We were excited to see the launch of a new chapter in Washington, D.C. this past fall,” says Gumbrecht.
On the event front, the CFA decided to defer its next 40 Under 40 Awards until June 2020, but will be hosting a 40 Under 40 Future Leaders Roundtable at its new “IdeaCon” event in June 2019 in New York City.
The gathering will bring together past 40 Under 40 winners, along with select other groups, to be part of interactive discussions on critical business issues with senior executives in the industry and with notable guest speakers, who will provide leadership insights.
“To complement the event, the June edition of The Secured Lender will feature ‘Difference Makers’ and will celebrate these rising stars in our ‘Where Are They Now?’ feature,” says Gumbrecht.
Overall, Gumbrecht sees a bright future ahead for both the organization and its members.
“Dave and I are excited about where we are headed, as an association and as an industry. Our success is a testament to the depth and breadth of talent and entrepreneurial spirit of our community of volunteers and professionals. I’m honored to work with such an inspiring group of people,” he says.
Grende expresses an equal amount of optimism. “We plan to make a big splash on our 75th in New York, where we have an opportunity to honor our past, as well as to celebrate our future and where we’re going. You don’t get a bigger stage to make an impression than that. Our future has never looked more promising.” •
Michele Ocejo is editor-in-chief of The Secured Lender and the communications director of the Commercial Finance Association.
Amanda Koprowski is the managing editor of ABF Journal.