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William Drake

2023 Inductee, National Commercial Finance Conference (SFNet)

William Drake served as the first executive director of The National Commercial Finance Conference, Inc. (SFNet’s original name) until his death in 1964.

Mr. Drake held a State Regents scholarship at Columbia College, from which he was graduated with honors in history with an A.B. degree. He was graduated from the Colum‐bia University Law School in 1932, and was admitted to the State bar in 1933.

Before beginning with the National Commercial Finance Conference in 1945, Mr. Drake was counsel to the Shipbuilders Council of America, with headquarters in New York.

During Mr. Drake’s first convention address he boldly declared the group’s intentions for serving the industry. The organization was new, but the industry had unofficially existed for decades. Drake’s first keynote address referred to things that have been part of the industry’s strategic approach well into the modern era. His vision included being a clearing house for judicial and legislative matters. Another important role was to advance “devices and tools” used by industry members – we’d call that “technology” today. Publicity and image were mentioned as important responsibilities also.

Mr. Drake also spoke of newsletters and bulletins discussing trends, current literature, analytical studies, state and federal legislation and judicial decisions. He even mentioned Conference representatives who had already appeared before Congress. This goal of “harmonizing” rules for commercial transactions was referred to in Mr. Drake’s address, clearly pointing to the need for such a development. This was ahead of The Uniform Commercial Code being gradually adopted by the states beginning in 1953.

Mr. Drake passed away in 1964 at the age of 59. His vision and leadership have left an indelible mark on our industry.

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