The Renovo Financial story all started back in 2011 in a Chicago coffee shop by Co-Founders Kevin Werner and Daniel Rosen—a fitting origin spot for the trendsetting, high-energy private money lender currently shaking up the lending space. The company was premised on a novel concept: staking a mutual investment in their clients’ long-term success by providing both efficient access to working capital and leveraging their collective decades of industry experience to offer actionable insights instead of merely tossing money their way and letting them either sink or swim like the competition was doing. Fueled by copious amounts of caffeine and an initial financial backing from Granite Creek Capital Partners, Kevin and Daniel steadily built a solid roster of all-star lenders and established a reputable track record of success in Chicago. Fast forward five or six years and Renovo has grown exponentially, with local lenders actively fueling savvy investors in key markets spanning from coast to coast.
The Originate Report team recently had the privilege of sitting down with one of the most innovative professionals driving Renovo’s remarkable trajectory in a key market: Paul Shaughnessy, Managing Director of Renovo Financials’ Boston office. We had the unique opportunity to talk with one of the hardest working individuals in the lending sector to discuss his inspirational career development, the strategies and techniques he implemented to originate an insane volume of loans while maintaining next-level customer satisfaction, and his take on current and future trends within the private lending sector.
True Market Familiarity
Shaughnessy was born and raised in the Boston area. He had a stellar four-year collegiate football career at a small Division 3 program, Mount Ida College—becoming the only player in school history to rack up more than 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in one calendar year. His success on the gridiron caught the eye of several professional scouts which led to an invitation to the NFL Super Regional Combine, and ultimately, stints in the Arena and Canadian Football Leagues. Shaughnessy was able to successfully translate his athletic success into the professional realm, exhibiting the same grit and determination he used on the field while mastering the ins and outs of the lending industry and becoming a prominent figure in the space.
After developing an interest in the financial services sector, Shaughnessy decided to relocate to San Diego in 2014, where he homed in on his finance skills. After picking up a real estate license in both California and Massachusetts, he was able to pivot to the private lending industry, bringing with him a wealth of insights into how the funding process for investment purposes could be perfected.
But what truly sets Shaughnessy apart as a lending professional is his tremendous work ethic and dedication to facilitating the long-term success of his clients. “Paul is the kind of guy that will do twice as many loans as any of his competitors and still lose sleep on the one deal that got away,” notes James Gaskin, SVP of Corporate Development at Renovo. It is that level of commitment that allowed Shaughnessy to quickly establish himself as a respected figure in the private lending industry and garner a widespread reputation of going above and beyond to get deals across the finish line for his growing client base.
As he gained more experience in the industry, Shaughnessy began to focus on the specific needs of real estate investors and developed a deep understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities in this market. He used this knowledge to create innovative lending solutions that helped his clients achieve their goals.
Returning Home to Give Back
Despite his success, Shaughnessy never forgot his roots and remained committed to giving back to the community. This prompted him to move back to Boston and join Renovo Financial in 2020 after being impressed with the company’s energetic culture and impactful lending. Shaughnessy’s estimation of Renovo’s quality proved true during the COVID-19 era. “When the pandemic hit, capital markets shut down for the most part—but not Renovo,” notes Shaughnessy. “They were able to continue actively lending and honoring the initial commitments they made to their clients despite the industry being turned on its head seemingly overnight. The foresight to not overleverage themselves and secure key capital commitments from stable funds that had a vested interest in the long-term viability of the company speaks volumes to the quality of leadership here at Renovo and why it makes such a great organization to work for.”
But there’s a catch: Renovo had literally zero market presence in the Boston real estate lending market at the time. Shaughnessy was tasked with building the business from the ground up in one of the most competitive markets in the country amidst the fallout of a global pandemic that had turned the entire industry on its head. Quite the challenge to say the least, but Shaughnessy was not intimidated—instead relying on his ability to quickly establish trust with key clients by genuinely investing in their success and putting in the needed effort to provide them with the requisite resources to accomplish their goals. “The one defining characteristic about Paul is that he truly cares about his clients,” observes Gaskin. “He’ll do whatever it takes to set them up for success, never using them as a means to an end which you see so often in the lending space—that means working around the clock seven days a week if need be. We have quite an impressive team at Renovo comprised of top-level talent, but Paul sets himself apart even amongst these high achievers by his willingness to put in the work and commit everything to servicing his clients.”
The results Shaughnessy has generated to date certainly speak to his remarkable level of commitment. In his first year alone operating in Boston, Shaughnessy was able to generate $100 million in loan origination—a truly impressive feat considering Renovo had just opened up shop in the city and had yet to garner substantial brand awareness. Shaughnessy’s financial acumen and resourcefulness enabled him to gain the trust of his clients, and his innate ability to maintain unparalleled customer service despite a constantly escalating amount of loan servicing volume translated into a highly loyal client base. His track record of producing above-average results via a truly client-centered, transparent lending philosophy resulted in Shaughnessy more than doubling his origination volume the following year, closing over 280 loans for $215 million+ in his hometown in 2022.
This is no small feat for an area boasting some of the oldest neighborhoods in the United States. “Real Estate transactions in Boston lend themselves to incredibly complex deals due to strict zoning, commercial to residential conversions, and other unique situations found in the dense and older neighborhoods in the surrounding area,” explained Shaughnessy. “Our success over the last year would not have been possible without the grit and innate desire to succeed in this competitive market found in our four-person team. Our Senior Production Assistant Brianna DiZeo; Portfolio Manager, Evan Kritz; and Senior Loan Closer, Graciela Calvo round out one of the most dedicated teams I have had the privilege to work with during my career.”
Having a chance to make a positive impact in the Massachusetts neighborhoods he grew up in is something Shaughnessy truly relishes in his role as Managing Director. “The most rewarding aspect of my job at Renovo is the unique opportunity to change the Boston area communities that I grew up in like Malden, East Boston, and Chelsea for the better,” observes Shaughnessy. “I take pride in providing much-needed capital to develop and improve the quality of life for those that live and work here.”
Boston-based Renovo clients are certainly benefiting from the purpose-driven energy Shaughnessy brings to the office day in and day out. After building the Renovo operations in the city, Shaughnessy continues to refine and improve his protocol to consistently deliver a better end-product to borrowers and intends to expand his market share deeper into Boston.
While Boston is home and will remain central to his core business, Shaughnessy has his sights set on conquering additional markets. “Renovo has a reputation for a streamlined process for both short-and long-term loans which make our firm uniquely suited to tackle markets across the US,” notes Shaughnessy. “My intentions are to expand beyond the Boston area into additional markets outside the state that are posed for a lender like Renovo.”
Drawing from his years of diverse experience in both the real estate and finance worlds, Shaughnessy is able to provide real value to his clients. “I enjoy the capital markets side of the business,” notes Shaughnessy. “This involves originating loans and then trading them to the secondary market, which I have developed a thorough understanding of how the major players in this space evaluate risk and credit—allowing me to vet loans and ultimately enhance their overall credit.” Leveraging his years of industry experience to discern emergent trends and quickly adjust lending practices to accommodate shifting dynamics, the insights Shaughnessy is able to provide to his clients are almost as valuable as the actual capital he provides for them.
The future is an admittedly challenging thing to predict considering the recent market volatility and constantly fluctuating dynamics. However, Shaughnessy is optimistic that he can continue building on the $450 million in lending volume he has logged since 2018. “We will have to keep an eye on unemployment and inflation in the future,” observes Shaughnessy. “I always communicate to clients that it pays to be forward-thinking and help them develop realistic exit strategies that align with their investment strategy—crafting a truly diversified asset portfolio that both mitigates risk and optimizes cash flow for each and every client is my goal here at Renovo. My top priority is to ensure that investors are set up for long-term success.”
There is more to achieving that goal than meets the eye. The real estate industry is in a constant state of flux and keeping on top of the constantly evolving marketplace dynamics is almost a full-time job in and of itself. Despite his understandably hectic schedule, Shaughnessy still finds the time to conduct in-depth market analytics so he can provide the best information to his clients that will position them favorably for the future. “I leverage data insights and market analytics to provide actionable insights to clients and strive to be the best partner I can be to them—make sure they know that there is a mutual commitment to the achievement of their financial objectives,” notes Shaughnessy.
It is just one of the many practices that makes Shaughnessy a trend-setter in the lending industry and offers a glimpse of the level of professionalism and preparation he brings to Renovo’s clients—inspiring confidence that no matter what the future holds, they will be able to count on Shaughnessy to help them achieve success.