How did you get involved with the Commercial Finance Association and what are some the benefits you have seen throughout your career?
I got involved with the CFA via the Midwest Chapter in 2013. I recall my first event was the annual golf outing, which, at the time, was held at Geneva National in Lake Geneva, WI. I didn’t know anyone at all, at the event but that changed quickly. The membership was so welcoming and there were several individuals who took it upon themselves to introduce me to others who I had not yet had the opportunity to meet. This had a natural compounding effect and after attending just a few events, I had a respectable rolodex of folks with whom I could build real, meaningful relationships.
The benefits of membership are not always obvious. I think a common mistake that people make with any professional networking organization is approaching an event with the “what can these people do for me” mentality. I’ve never attended a CFA event “looking for a deal,” rather, I’m always looking to strengthen at least one (if not more) relationship that evening. Not to mention, just showing up to one or two events a year won’t do much for you (think about wanting to learn more about a person romantically, but only taking them to dinner twice a year). Deals come and go but relationships can last an entire lifetime. You never know how you might benefit, directly or indirectly, from a relationship and sometimes those benefits aren’t always immediate – they might take months or years, or even a decade. But if you join the CFA for the ‘right reasons’ that is, not to just ‘find deals’, I’m almost certain that you too will see those benefits at some point in your career or personal life.
What would you say to a YoPro considering becoming a CFA Chapter member?
Give it a shot. What do you have to lose? Seriously, not only should you join immediately, you should ask your YoPro peers that you work alongside to join you as well. There is a reduced YoPro membership rate of which you and your peers can take advantage. Chances are you’ll meet someone that you didn’t know before. This could be someone that you could do business with, a friend, a mentor, all the above, none of the above…bottom line is, you’ll meet someone though. I’ve learned through personal experiences, that you absolutely MUST put yourself ‘out there’ if you want to advance relatively quickly (as opposed to slowly) in your career.
Also, being a YoPro and involved in the CFA is a unique experience. Let’s face it, we don’t stay young forever and the programming is really geared towards your interests as a twenty-something or a “still fighting to rekindle your glory days” 30-something. The venue might be some place new and exciting that you’ve been wanting to try and the attendees will be people who are your contemporaries, likely with similar interests. So, again, what do you have to lose?
Where do you see your involvement with CFA going over the next few years?
I think the natural progression for someone with chapter leadership experience is to eventually give back to the organization by volunteering at the National level. Your experiences as a committee volunteer, committee co-chair, officer, director, etc – are each unique to your chapter – and that’s something that, if shared, could be a valuable source of information for our cohorts in other regions and our National leadership.
What have been some of the rewards of being a Chapter President as a YoPro and what have been some of the challenges?
No challenges. It’s all been a piece of cake.
Kidding aside. I’ve learned so much. In fact, if you’re not learning something each day then you’re probably not paying enough attention, or you need to be doing something different that’s going to challenge you. Chapter leadership is no different.
Being the President, this year has been rewarding because I’ve gotten to work alongside people that I’ve known for years and these are people that I consider friends. It’s allowed for a collaborative work environment whereby all chapter officers and directors are contributors and all ideas (whether you’re on the board or executive team or neither) will be considered. We’ve put an emphasis on philanthropy this year with our inaugural CFA Cares Spring Gala and for me, personally, that has been extremely gratifying.
Of course it comes with its own challenges. Time management is the biggest one. If you want to effect real change and leave a mark, it’s going to take an investment of your time. However, at the end of the day, we are all volunteers and so that’s probably the biggest challenge – finding that balance between being a good chapter leader and continuing to excel in your ‘day job’.
What is your outlook on the industry as a whole for the rest of 2019 and into 2020?
I might be the last person out there that should be weighing in on the economy, but I do pay attention to the markets from time to time. I think the industry is in fine shape through the balance of 2019. Since a volatile political race (2020) usually lends itself to a volatile market place and, given that we are in year 10 or 11 of an 8-10 year short-term debt cycle, I think we ought to be wary of what’s around the corner in 2020. While all the signs are pointing towards the end of a cycle (did interest rates just go up again?) I think many learned their lesson not long ago in the ‘Great Recession’. Not to mention, this is asset-based lending that we’re talking about here – an entire industry that’s built on the premise of prudent risk management that weathers cycles.
What was your best vacation ever?
Best vacation ever? That’s a tough one. I’d say it’s a toss-up between when I married my lovely wife, Tessa, in Turks & Caicos OR the vacation that lasted an entire summer: East Hampton 2012. I’ve never seen sand so white and water so clear-blue as those that are in Turks. On the flip side, what “vacation” is better than living in the Hamptons for a summer that included such strenuous activities as: a daily bike ride to the farmer’s market and deciding between Surf Lodge, Talkhouse and Sloppy Tuna (it was a long time ago…okay?) for your next bite to eat.