Insider Q&A: Brett Boehm– Co-founder & Principal, TBF FinancialBy contactdesign
Brett Boehm is co-founder and principal of TBF Financial, LLC, based in Deerfield, Ill. Since 1998 TBF has provided a valued service to large equipment leasing and finance companies that enables cash recovery from small-ticket portfolios of uncollected charge-offs. This is an efficient method of increasing recoveries and improving the bottom line. Boehm, who has a law degree from The John Marshal Law School, had previously managed his own law firm, Boehm & Boehm, P.C. in Chicago. At TBF Boehm is responsible for business development and marketing. We were curious to learn about how Boehm’s law experience influences his equipment leasing efforts and what challenges were met and overcome in this unique business model.
How many years do you have in the equipment leasing industry?
14 years, since our company, TBF Financial, LLC, was founded in 1998.
Our company helps equipment finance firms recover revenue from small-ticket portfolios of charge-offs.
How/why did you transition from law to leasing?
In 1998, my father, who had been a practicing attorney for his entire business career, my brother, and I, started developing a business concept concerning the buying of charge-off equipment leases. My father represented small-ticket leasing companies, and he thought that there was still some collectability in the non-paying leases that his clients gave up trying to collect. He believed that he could apply his legal experience to this opportunity and develop a successful business. Our research showed that no one was offering to buy charged-off leases. I saw this as an opportunity for me to work with my family in starting a new business and industry (buying charged-off equipment leases). I could be part of a pioneering effort, and this sounded very exciting to me. I obviously made the right decision since TBF has become the premier purchaser of charged-off equipment leases.
How does your legal background aid in the equipment leasing realm?
Most of the obligors on the charge-offs we purchase are able to pay their lease obligations on some basis, and have no legal reason for not paying, but they are refusing to pay. They have been contacted numerous times by the lessor and possibly its collection agencies, but with no results. In order to collect on these accounts, TBF will often utilize the legal system and my background allows us to do this effectively.
Within ELFA what is the goal of the Credit & Collections Planning Committee in which you serve?
The Credit & Collections Planning Committee organizes and plans an annual conference in June to discuss effective techniques for collection from non-payers and the state of the credit and collections aspect in the industry. This event also provides a platform for networking among the credit and collections people. Having attended this event several times in the past, I felt that I could greatly contribute since nobody does what my company, TBF Financial, does. Therefore, my view on things and experience would be unique to the committee. In addition, I am also on the slate of candidates for election to the ELFA’s Service Provider Business Council, and I hope to earn a position there as well. There could be valuable synergy because I would be a liaison between two important groups. We are grateful for all that the trade groups and publishing firms have done to help our business gain recognition. We are sponsoring the published attendee list that will be distributed at the ELFA’s annual convention in Palm Desert, CA. And, my colleagues will find me in the pre-conference social golf tournament.
What do you think of the current equipment leasing marketplace/economy?
I view the leasing marketplace and economy through the collections prism. From what I see, leasing companies became more cautious in 2008 and afterwards. Their credits are better quality than before 2008, and they have moved to clean up their portfolios. For the past 18 months and at this time, the portfolios of leasing companies are very clean and the percentage of charge-offs is quite low. A side effect is that the staffing of the collection departments has been thinned out as well.
What are your major challenges to date in the industry?
We did some market research recently through The Alta Group, a global consultancy, and we were pleased to learn that our service of buying charged-off leases and loans in exchange for immediate cash is actually pretty well understood and accepted. What we also learned is that it is important for us to make the process simple. To that end, we have added a quick form on our website that enables companies to obtain an estimate of the value of their charge-offs. People can call me directly with any questions about how our service works, and I would be pleased to hear from them with suggestions. My primary role is business development for TBF and in that responsibility I focus on getting closer to our clients to learn more about their specific needs and interests. I am also connecting with many in the industry through LinkedIn and I stay informed on relevant news. To date, TBF has been pretty successful in convincing leasing companies to sell their charge-offs. Our clients continuously tell us that they enjoy the ease of working with TBF, they appreciate that we are sympathetic to their concerns, and they especially appreciate that selling gets them the highest recovery with minimal effort.
Boehm resides in the Chicago area with his wife, Laura and three children. He is an avid golfer and Chicago Bears (NFL football) fan. To learn more about TBF visit www.tbfgroup.com.