Learn from Kara Frachioni, Technology and Cross-Border Transactions Project Manager, as she shares her perspective and experience.
1) How has the leasing and financing industry changed since you joined First American?
Like every organization, the most significant shift in our industry has been adapting to the disruption of the pandemic. With everyone working from home, we took extra time to help guide our vendor relationships and clients to adopt a paperless process—using electronic invoices and e-signatures to complete their transactions. We also saw many clients adding or updating their technology to keep their businesses running during the pandemic. Our clients appreciated that First American concentrated on their priority projects for them, so they could focus on their teams and clients.
2) What is most notable about the sectors and assets you work with?
It's been interesting to see the increase in clients obtaining new assets to either replace obsolete equipment or build out their operations within the U.S. While the impact of COVID-19 hit every industry hard, many clients only delayed or reprioritized their projects in the short term. In many ways, the pandemic expedited the technology advancements that businesses would realize in the future. It was great to experience that firsthand and sit (virtually) alongside our clients to help them navigate the best approach to meet new and long-term plans.
3) What evolving trends are you watching over the next five years?
If the pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that everything and anything can change quickly. I expect the current trends will become the industry norms. For example, we see many companies prioritizing increasing efficiencies along with expanding their footprint. I work primarily with Canadian companies, and they are more eager than ever to establish their presence in the U.S.
While cross-border business sounds complex, our digital process makes it seamless. Our clients plan to build warehouse facilities with more automation equipment and software while relying more on data centers to support their hybrid office operations. I expect clients to establish equipment and technology refresh programs more than ever to keep up with the evolution. We see clients experiencing firsthand how simple upgrades can have such a dramatic impact on their operations.
4) How are your client support responsibilities evolving with those trends?
Our team has learned how to become an asset to our clients who have businesses in Canada and the U.S., specifically structuring financing programs based on the entities involved and the location of the equipment. We must incorporate the tax and accounting benefits that apply to the different financing structures and ensure clients take advantage of every opportunity when financing versus paying cash.
5) What is one valuable piece of feedback you have heard from clients?
I constantly hear how easy it is to do business when the right tools are in place. Our Canadian clients truly appreciate the ability to check on a status, submit documents, or e-sign for a project all in one place, especially when the borders were closed and any in-person business meetings were put on hold.
Ultimately, we continue to help our Canadian clients find ways to work smarter, not harder, and I think that trend will remain constant as the digital evolution and cross-border expansion continues for years to come.
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