CRE Finance Council Focuses on the Commercial and Multifamily Debt Markets, Housing Affordability, ESG, CRE Technology, and LIBOR Transition at Recent Miami Conference

“We pride ourselves on a long history of substantive panels and forums that provide our conference attendees not just a glimpse into the issues at hand, but a deep dive into critical developments affecting the future of our industry.” — Lisa Pendergast, CREFC Executive Director.

NEW YORK (PRWEB) January 24, 2020
The CRE Finance Council (CREFC), the industry association that exclusively represents the $4.4 trillion commercial and multifamily real estate finance industry, completed its Annual January Conference last Wednesday in Miami, Florida. Over the course of the four-day conference, industry leaders and member organizations participated in thought provoking panels, roundtables, forum discussions and networking events at the Loews Miami Beach.
“We pride ourselves on a long history of substantive panels and forums that provide our conference attendees not just a glimpse into the issues at hand, but a deep dive into critical developments affecting the future of our industry,” noted Lisa Pendergast, CREFC Executive Director. “To the good, we are entering a new decade with strong market fundamentals and an economy fueled by both robust labor markets and historically low interest rates. We are watching as several issues come to the forefront this year including the systemically important transition from the longstanding LIBOR floating-rate benchmark to SOFR, housing affordability, fintech, climate change and the potential impact the results of the 2020 elections will have on commercial and multifamily assets.”
Key themes, many of which will take center stage during the 2020 election and beyond, dominated the discussions among industry leaders at CREFC’s January Conference:
Policy and Government RelationsLegislative and regulatory decisions made by policymakers in Washington, D.C. continue to have a significant impact on our industry. The conference delivered inside-the-Beltway analyses of what occurred in Washington, D.C. in 2019 and what lies ahead in 2020.
CREFC’s Policy and Government Relations Team highlighted several positive developments for the industry in 2019, including the seven-year reauthorization of The Terrorism Risk Insurance Program (TRIA) and the shorter-term extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (with long-term reauthorization still in negotiation). The final High Volatility Commercial Real Estate (HVCRE) rules were also published and substantially conformed to CREFC’s recommendations. The industry is currently implementing the final HVCRE rules. Also notable, the Current Expected Credit Losses (CECL) rules were finalized and became effective for most CREFC members on January 1; importantly, the deadline for some medium and smaller financial institution compliance was extended for one year to January 2023 to allow for further preparation to comply.
In 2020, CREFC members will continue work with policymakers to revise Dodd-Frank rulemakings such as the Volcker rule, finalize capital rules such as the Net Stable Funding Ratio and implement legislative reforms to ‘know your customer’ rules such as beneficial ownership requirements and cannabis banking.
Housing Affordability + Rent ControlCREFC continues to be an important voice for the industry on the issues of GSE multifamily reform and Housing Affordability. Its members have provided federal policymakers such as Treasury and the FHFA with first-hand insights into these issues and cemented CREFC as an integral component in this dialogue. In 2020, CREFC’s membership will focus on a host of housing affordability and multifamily reform issues, including revisions to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), GSE capital rules and FHLB eligibility. CREFC will continue to support the development of a vibrant multifamily finance marketplace in both the public and private sectors through its work with regulators, legislators and member stakeholders with the long-term goals of releasing the GSEs from conservatorship and meeting the nation’s housing affordability demands.
LIBOR to SOFR TransitionExpert background and updates of the transition from LIBOR to the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) were shared through a dynamic conversation about its industry implications. A number of 2020 developments should ease the way for the development of a robust SOFR term structure, including ISDA’s finalizing its amended definitions to include SOFR as the replacement rate for USD LIBOR in the coming months as well as a change in discounting methodology to include SOFR by the major central counterparty clearinghouses (CCPs). CREFC expects these events to drive increased liquidity in both SOFR futures and debt issuance – both critical components to derive a term structure for SOFR, which does not exist today. In addition, the New York Fed announced plans to publish 30-, 90-, and 180-day compounded averages for SOFR in the first half of 2020. In December, Freddie Mac successfully priced a CMBS transaction with a bond class indexed to SOFR and CREFC anticipates more securitizations to follow. CREFC plays an important role in bringing awareness of these critical events and will work with its members to help facilitate a smooth transition. Note that in 2020 CREFC enters its second year as a full member of the Federal Reserve’s Alternative Reference Rates Committee (ARRC).
Technology + ESG2020 will be the year to fully embrace CRE technology and focus on ESG issues more than ever before. Many of the conference’s panels and keynote speakers focused on how to capture and organize data to streamline industry functions and improve overall reporting. Panelists and conferees debated the current state of climate change, the status of implementing ESG objectives and the future implications to the CRE finance industry. The overarching theme is that what we do now matters. It was noted that Millennials are driving much of the momentum, and that those who choose not to embrace ESG may see reduced liquidity in the finance and debt markets.
“We are very proud of the robust and energetic participation of our members at Miami 2020 as they are the true lifeblood of our organization,” noted Chuck Lee, Head of CRE Securitization and Warehouse Finance at Credit Suisse Securities and Chair of CREFC’s Executive Committee. “I want to specifically thank the amazing panelists and forum leaders, participants and CREFC staff, as well as our keynote speakers, industry greats Barry S. Sternlicht, Chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group, and Thomas Flexner, Vice Chairman of Citigroup Global Markets, as well as David Gergen, Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and former advisor to several presidents who added tremendous insight into yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s politics and public policy. We are proud of the health of our industry and look forward to a successful 2020.”
CREFC hosts several events per year. For more information about upcoming events visit the organization’s website.
About the CRE Finance CouncilThe CRE Finance Council (CREFC) is the collective voice of the $4.4 trillion commercial and multifamily real estate finance markets. With more than 300 companies and 11,000 individuals, its members include all of the significant portfolio, multifamily, and commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) lenders and issuers; loan and bond investors such as money managers, insurance companies, pension funds and government funds; loan servicers; rating agencies; accounting firms; law firms; and other service providers. CRE and the CRE finance industry play a critical role in our country’s economy due to its important role in the financing of office buildings, industrial complexes, multifamily housing, retail facilities, hotels, and other types of commercial and multifamily real estate. In addition to its sector specific member forums, committees and working groups, CREFC acts as a legislative and regulatory advocate for the industry, plays a vital role in setting market standards and best practices and provides educational/mentoring opportunities for market participants in this key sector of the global economy. For more information visit

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Greenberg Traurig Attorneys Participate in the 2020 Infocast Wind Power Finance & Investment Summit

LOS ANGELES (PRWEB) January 22, 2020
Shareholders Jeffrey A. Chester and William Garner of global law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP will participate in the 2020 Infocast Wind Power Finance & Investment Summit, Feb. 4-6, at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in San Diego, California. Greenberg Traurig serves as the Summit Sponsor of the event, recognized as one of the leading networking and deal-making events for the wind power industry. Thomas R. Brill, Robert J. Downing, Alejandra Garcia Earley, Rabeha Kamaluddin, and April B. Kim, members of the firm’s Global Energy & Natural Resources Practice, are also attending.
According to its website, the annual summit gathers more than 800 of the “industry’s leading developers, investors, lenders, turbine suppliers, EPCs and other players gather to gain valuable insights into industry trends, get the latest market update on the finance and investment landscape.”
Chester will serve as the Summit Chair and present the session, “Wind Power Market Overview.” Chester has been the Chair of the Summit since it began in San Diego in 2005. His presentation will review the state of the wind power market, including market shares and league tables, observations, and predictions. Chester will also moderate the panel, “Tax Equity Market Dynamics.” The panel will discuss the latest trends in tax equity and feature tax equity investors, who will share their perspectives on participating in non-traditional offtake structures.
Chester is global chair of Greenberg Traurig’s Energy Project Finance group and a member of the firm’s Los Angeles office. He has deep experience handling transactions related to renewable energy, having closed more than 100 wind and solar power projects throughout the United States and Mexico. Chester has been centrally involved in the development of the equity, debt, and capital markets for renewable energy projects and represents developers, sponsors, lenders, and investors in a wide variety of energy finance transactions. He counsels a broad range of participants on renewable energy finance transactions involving construction and term debt, backleverage, tax equity (partnership flips and sale leasebacks), and private equity capital financings.
Garner will serve as the Pre-Summit Executive Briefing Chair of the event. A member of the firm’s Houston office, Garner chairs Greenberg Traurig’s Renewable Energy group and co-chairs the Energy & Natural Resources Practice. He focuses his practice on domestic and international hydrocarbon and inert gas transactions and renewable energy. He has experience working on worldwide natural gas projects, including unconventional gas. He has worked on projects in the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Poland, Kazakhstan, U.A.E., United Kingdom, Algeria, Turkey, and Mexico. He has served as an investment banker for the world’s leading oil and gas investment banking boutique, advising on domestic and international upstream and midstream transactions.
About Greenberg Traurig’s Energy & Natural Resources Practice: Greenberg Traurig’s Energy & Natural Resources Practice has broad transactional, regulatory, and litigation experience across many sectors of the energy industry, including oil and gas, LNG, electricity, coal, wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources. The firm’s exceptional multi-office platform, including key offices in major energy centers, enables us to serve and implement legal strategies for energy clients throughout the U.S. and internationally.
About Greenberg Traurig, LLP: Greenberg Traurig, LLP (GT) has approximately 2100 attorneys in 41 locations in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. GT has been recognized for its philanthropic giving, diversity, and innovation, and is consistently among the largest firms in the U.S. on the Law360 400 and among the Top 20 on the Am Law Global 100. Web: Twitter: @GT_Law.

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AppZen Announces General Availability of the AppZen Platform for Finance Teams

…The AppZen platform for finance allows companies to pull levers and adjust policies and rules that are unique to their industry and business. Once the levers are adjusted, the platform automates the enforcement so highly-skilled workers can focus attention on strategic work.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (PRWEB) January 21, 2020
AppZen, the world’s leading AI solution for modern finance teams, today announced the release of the AppZen Platform. For the first time, companies can automate complex financial and compliance processes built on a variety of systems that have historically been manual because they require deep domain knowledge and human decision making.
“Financial controls and compliance processes rely on transaction controls, manual oversight, and analytics. They are very inadequate and do not meet all the needs of every company, in every industry. What is an important compliance rule for a healthcare company is different for an entertainment company,” said Anant Kale, CEO of AppZen. “The AppZen platform for finance allows companies to pull levers and adjust policies and rules that are unique to their industry and business. Once the levers are adjusted, the platform automates the enforcement so highly-skilled workers can focus attention on strategic work.”
In a report titled, “Bots, algorithms, and the future of the finance function,”* McKinsey & Company states that, “about a third of the opportunity in finance can be captured using basic task-automation technologies such as RPA,” and that, “capturing the remainder of the opportunity requires advanced cognitive-automation technologies, like machine-learning algorithms and natural-language tools.”
The consulting firm also found that current technologies can automate 42 percent of finance activities. The AppZen Platform helps finance teams streamline even more manual work by automating rules and policies that used to require deep domain knowledge, human review, and understanding of financial transactions and scanned documents and images. AppZen customers can also leverage the AppZen platform to tailor their AppZen Expense and AP Audit implementations to accommodate their unique business processes.
“I’m applying AI and the AppZen Platform to my compliance, audit, accounts payable, and expense departments, because like most organizations, we have finite resources in governing and controlling an enormous and ever growing amount of transactions,” said Peter Sperger, Chief Corporate Compliance, Internal Audit, and Information Security Officer at OPKO Health, Inc. “AppZen looks at every transaction and allows my team to focus more on risk prevention and root cause analysis/course correction.”
About AppZenAppZen delivers the leading AI-driven platform for modern finance teams. The AppZen Platform is built on 7 years of learning from thousands of online sources, thousands of customers and billions of financial documents and transactions like invoices, contracts, expense and accounting data. Starting with business spend, we automate manual process, uncover problems and optimize decision making at scale for finance organizations around the globe, including one-third of the Fortune 500. The AppZen Platform combines patented computer vision, semantic analysis, and deep learning to understand financial transactions in business context and make decisions before those transactions happen. It is a must-have for CFOs and their teams to reduce spend, comply with policy and regulations, and streamline process.
Over 1,650 enterprises have standardized on AppZen, including four of the top five banks, four of the top ten media companies, four of the top ten pharmaceutical manufacturers, two of the top five aerospace companies, and six of the top ten software providers. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter at @AppZen.
________________________________________*Plaschke. F, Seth. I, and Whiteman, R. (2018). Bots, algorithms, and the future of the finance function

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Ephesoft to Enhance Loan Processing in New Zealand for Toyota Finance New Zealand

“Ephesoft will enable us to integrate an innovative, cloud-enabled solution that uses machine learning for enhanced document and data management, ultimately making it simpler for our staff to help customers secure financing for a new vehicle,” said Stephen Blay, GM Operations at TFNZ

IRVINE, Calif. (PRWEB) January 21, 2020
Toyota Finance New Zealand Limited (TFNZ), a regional subsidiary of Japan-based automotive finance company Toyota Financial Services Corporation, today announced it has selected Ephesoft, Inc., a leader in content capture and data discovery solutions, to accelerate its automotive loan application and settlement processing.
TFNZ will deploy Ephesoft Transact to its loan operations team in order to automate the classification of proprietary loan application forms and ancillary documents to expedite data extraction – delivering a more streamlined loan validation process. This approach serves as a best practice for financial service providers globally. Leaner processes and increasing customer satisfaction can lead to lower costs, more efficient use of resources and growing revenues.
“For a financial organization like TFNZ, the digital transformation of loan processes is most importantly a customer service initiative,” said Stephen Blay, General Manager Operations at Toyota Finance New Zealand Limited. “Ephesoft will enable us to integrate an innovative, cloud-enabled solution that uses machine learning for enhanced document and data management, ultimately making it simpler for our staff to help customers secure financing for a new vehicle. This partnership will also enable our loan operations team to shift their focus on manual data handling to strategic customer support.”
Ephesoft Transact is a modern capture productivity platform that leverages artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud-based web services to empower the digital worker in a wide range of document-intensive industries. TFNZ will run the solution in the cloud, integrating with its own loan origination system, to bring smart capture data extraction and classification capabilities to its employees and customers. TFNZ proprietary documents such as application and direct debit forms will be classified and extracted to assist with validation and loan finalization. Supporting documentation, such as proof of income and proof of address, will be identified, classified, extracted and validated against core application data, resulting in a faster and more accurate loan validation process with fewer customer touchpoints.
“We are honored to partner TFNZ as they invest in agile digital transformation solutions for their loan validation department,” said Ike Kavas, founder and CEO of Ephesoft. “It is inspiring to see lenders and other financial organizations taking charge of their high-value documents and manual workflows in order to modernize the back office and deliver faster, more accurate customer results. We are pleased to be TFNZ’s flexible Software-as-a-Service partner, offering a cloud-native, machine learning technology that enables them to embrace future change and transformation.”
About EphesoftEphesoft, Inc. develops technology that makes meaning out of unstructured data for decision-makers worldwide. Using supervised machine learning and a focus on efficiency and reliability, Ephesoft has crafted the next generation of enterprise content capture and data discovery solutions. Organizations use this power to automate any document-based business processes, improving accuracy, increasing productivity and reducing costs. Ephesoft is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., with regional offices throughout the US, EMEA and Asia Pacific. The company is undergoing rapid growth and has customers in over 50 countries. To learn more visit
About Toyota Finance New Zealand LimitedOpening its doors in 1989, Toyota Finance New Zealand Limited (TFNZ) was one of the very first finance companies established by Toyota outside of Japan. Since then, it’s grown to be one of the largest motor vehicle finance companies in New Zealand, offering a full range of motor vehicle financial services, including vehicle financing and leasing, fleet management and insurance.
TFNZ are proudly 100% owned by Toyota Financial Services Corporation of Japan (part of the Toyota Motor Corporation), which currently operates in over 30 countries and regions around the world. TFNZ has assets totaling over $1.4 billion and are proud to have helped over 300,000 satisfied customers with their Finance and Insurance requirements.

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Four Veteran Finance and Real Estate Attorneys Join Waller in Birmingham

Press Release – updated: Jan 15, 2020 09:00 CST

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., January 15, 2020 ( – Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP announced today that four prominent Birmingham attorneys – Jesse S. Vogtle, Jr., Randolph H. Lanier, Eric  T. Ray and Paul H. Greenwood  – have joined Waller’s Birmingham office as partners. They previously practiced at Balch & Bingham, LLP.
“It’s very exciting to welcome these accomplished attorneys,” said Waller partner Larry Childs, who joined the firm when it opened its Birmingham office in 2005. “Growing our capabilities and depth in Birmingham is a key priority for the firm and this is a great way to start 2020.”
“Financial services and real estate are areas of strategic focus for Waller and we are committed to expanding and strengthening the services we can provide our clients,” said Waller Chair Matt Burnstein.
Vogtle has multiple areas of financial experience, including assistance to financial institutions and creditors in complex commercial bankruptcy matters and civil litigation and providing advice to banks on core bank operating contracts and vendor agreements. His practice also includes advising public entities on the creation and development of industrial parks and economic development of those parks.
He has litigated and protected the interests of clients in state and federal courts across the country and his experience also includes advocating on behalf of clients in arbitration, mediation, and multi-party financial disputes. Vogtle represents clients ranging from national, regional and community banks to universities, public entities, medical research facilities, real estate developers, commercial landlords, and private equity and venture funds. 
Lanier has more than 35 years of experience providing counsel on complex commercial finance transactions and development projects in more than 25 states and the District of Columbia. His experience includes office buildings, warehouses and industrial sites, retail and hospitality, condominiums, multi-family, recreational facilities and planned unit developments.
Ray represents financial institutions, lenders, utilities and other creditors in chapter 11 bankruptcy cases, adversary proceedings and other types of commercial litigation. His experience includes all facets of creditor representation including preference and fraudulent transfer litigation, executory contract issues, asset sales and purchases, and bankruptcy appellate proceedings. Ray also advises clients on issues related to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. 
Greenwood represents lenders with commercial real estate projects, construction loans, and other transactional matters. He also represents clients facing bankruptcy disputes, litigation, loan workouts, restructuring, and complex real estate issues. Greenwood is recognized in Best Lawyers in the categories of Banking and Finance Law and Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law. 
About Waller
With more than 250 attorneys in three states, Nashville-based Waller assists clients in complex transactional, regulatory and litigation matters. The firm has a national reputation in healthcare and financial services and boasts robust practices in private equity and real estate. 
Media Contact: Sarah Brawner Phone: 615.610.0323Email:​
Source: Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP

Expansive Survey of More Than 450 Finance and Accounting Professionals Finds Improving Productivity, Reducing Human Error and Refocusing Staff Time on Strategic Work Are Top Expected Outcomes of Financial Automation

Exclusive Report, “The Financial Automation Imperative”, from Invoiced and CFO Dive Reveals That Difficulty Staying Competitive Is The #1 Risk Of Waiting Too Long to Adopt Financial Automation Technology; A Plurality (46%) of Respondents Expect a Possible Economic Recession To Make Adopting Financial Automation Even More Important
Press Release – updated: Jan 15, 2020 08:00 CST

AUSTIN, Texas, January 15, 2020 ( – A new survey of more than 450 finance and accounting professionals conducted by Invoiced and CFO Dive finds at least 50% say improving productivity, reducing human error and refocusing staff time on strategic work are the top expected outcomes of financial automation. In addition, difficulty staying competitive is cited as the #1 risk of waiting too long to adopt financial automation technology.
The study, entitled “The Financial Automation Imperative”, also reveals many new insights on perspectives, plans and priorities for financial automation such as:
Cash flow related automation technologies (Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable) have the highest adoption levels at 49% and 47% respectively. These two areas also earned the highest satisfaction levels among those using them, indicating strong maturity relative to other categories of financial automation.
The ability to integrate with other systems is cited as the most important decision driver when considering purchasing financial automation technology.
Reporting/forecasting and accounts receivable are the top automation priorities with 45% and 44% of respondents respectively indicating those categories as high or very high priority.
The biggest challenges in adopting financial automation technology are finding vendors that meet requirements, securing budget and making time and bandwidth for implementation.
Reporting/forecasting is the category of automation most likely to see an increase in spending in 2020.
Cryptocurrency is overwhelmingly viewed as the most overhyped financial technology.
The full report can be downloaded for free here.
“This new research suggests that 2020 will be a year of acceleration in the adoption of financial automation technology,” said Jared King, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer for Invoiced. “The attitudes and intentions uncovered in the report show that finance and accounting professionals are set on embracing automation, but are just as interested in doing so carefully and successfully,” he added.
“While digital transformation can lead to higher productivity and therefore fewer employees, organizations that don’t adapt to the sweeping changes we see impacting all industries and professions are bound to contract in any case, leading to headcount reductions no matter what,” Robert Freedman, Editor of CFO Dive, said.
The Financial Automation Imperative study was fielded in November and December 2019 and published in January 2020. The study is based on online survey responses from 459 U.S. finance and accounting professionals.
About InvoicedInvoiced is an award-winning platform for helping businesses get paid faster, stop wasting time on collections and provide a better payment experience for customers. With thousands of customers in 92 countries and nearly $50 billion in receivables processed, Invoiced is pioneering the field of accounts receivable automation. Based in Austin, Texas, Invoiced is the #1 rated A/R automation platform on G2 Crowd, a 2020 Cloud Awards Finalist and an official member of Forbes Finance Council. For more information visit
About CFO DiveCFO Dive provides in-depth journalism and insight into the most impactful news and trends shaping finance. The newsletters and website cover topics such as financial reporting, compliance, technology, risk management, leadership, and more. CFO Dive is a leading publication operated by Industry Dive. Our business journalists spark ideas and shape agendas for 7+ million decision-makers in competitive industries. Visit CFO Dive at
Contact:Adam Weinroth​Chief Marketing Officer for 380-0174
Source: Invoiced