The equipment leasing and finance industry is for the large part self-regulated. What does this mean for purchasers of essential equipment and software? It means that choosing which finance firm your company works with requires a bit of leg-work on your part to make sure you aren’t working with low-integrity companies. As business owners, you want to protect your investment and see your organization succeed. As a CFO, Controller, or other purchaser, you do not want to be responsible for associating your firm with less-than-reputable companies, as these relationships always end in pain and can permanently damage your firm and your professional reputation.
Now that I’ve painted the doom and gloom, there is some good news. We are all fortunate enough to live in the age of information, which means we have more data about our associates available at our fingertips than ever before. Today’s economic environment is certain to sift the wheat from the chaff and clean out low-integrity firms because stakeholders do not have to make decisions blindly.
To find out more about the reputation of the leasing or financing company that you are considering, first just run a Google search on the name, and include your keywords of concern (try review, experience, story, customer, client, fraud, scam, etc).
Also, use the following well-established sources for more information about the reputation of the company:
The Monitor daily publishes online and in print and provides a vast expanse of technical knowledge for leasing and finance professionals. It also publishes regular rankings of leasing and finance firms by assets, market share, and other metrics, and comments about fraudulent practices. Check out the site here: http://www.monitordaily.com/
The Better Business Bureau is one of the most common and useful sources. Search by name for the company you are considering working with. Also, search the company owners names to make sure the same owners haven’t simply shut down one entity and began another to avoid bad ratings. http://www.bbb.org/
While it is more geared toward consumer complaints, you may also find some articles about companies that call on you here: http://www.ripoffreport.com (I hope not, but it is possible!)
Not-for-profit organizations like the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association and National Equipment Finance Association also require members to maintain certain ethical standards, which can provide added assurance that you are working with good companies. Visit the ELFA website here: http://www.elfaonline.org/, and the NEFA site here: http://www.nefassociation.org/.
I hope this information guides your firm to making more informed decisions for its ongoing financial health. Please post any additional thoughts or links to the sites you use. Thanks for reading.