1. Why did you choose Private Lending?
To some extent, Private Lending has chosen me, not the other way around. My background was in residential lending, going back more than 30 years. I spent much of my early career at First Franklin, a national non-prime lender. By the time I was CEO, First Franklin was one of the largest and most profitable nonprime mortgage banking companies in the U.S., having grown from 800 employees to more than 3,000. And then the mortgage crisis hit.
My first introduction to Private Lending came in 2014 when I was recruited as the President and CEO of a newly formed joint venture between WDB Funding and Clayton Holdings, LLC. They wanted to stand up a company to take advantage of emerging market opportunities in fix and flip and become the alternative financing/hard money lender of choice. I guess I did the job too well, because after 18 months, Clayton, the national due diligence firm, asked me to come on board, and I eventually became Clayton’s Chief Revenue Officer.
Fast forward to 2020 and my second opportunity in Private Lending. Steve Pollack, the founder of Anchor Loans, asked me to come on board as President. He wanted me to either find companies that Anchor could acquire or find the right long-term investor that would support Anchor’s growth, in both good market cycles and bad.
At the end of 2021, we sold Anchor to Pretium Partners, a very dynamic, real-estate focused investor with more than $50 billon in AUM. Given the state of the Private Lending market over the past year, this decision looks even more prescient.
2. What is your current role and what do you do day to day?
This is a particularly timely question since my role is shifting slightly. For the past two years, I have been pulled in different directions managing and growing Anchor Loans during an incredibly turbulent period, which has required a very hands-on approach. At the same time, I’ve been working to leverage and develop synergies with our very dynamic parent, Pretium Partners. It’s been apparent to me, and something that I have shared with Pretium, that this is really a two-person job. I’m happy to announce that they have agreed with me, and at the end of last month, we announced that Rayman “Ray” Mathoda, an amazing CEO candidate, has agreed to come on as CEO. I will now be moving into the President’s role, which better suits my strengths and interests and will make my family happier.
3. What excites you about your role today?
In my new the role as President, I’ll be focused on market share growth, business channel expansion, and product/service innovation. I’m looking forward to working closely with Ray to usher in Anchor’s next phase of growth and operational excellence.
4. Can you explain a time where you faced adversity or had struggles early on in your career? Where did it all begin? How did these experiences mold and shape you into the leader you are today?
Throughout my career I have welcomed challenges: growing businesses, working with new corporate parents, adapting to industry changes, etc. In terms of the greatest challenges I’ve faced, I’d have to say the mortgage crisis was one, and it undid years of work when good companies, not just the bad actors, were swept away.
The current deceleration of the housing market, brought on by the Fed’s anti-inflation campaign has been very disruptive for the Private Lending market. But it has also created opportunities for strong, well-capitalized companies, like Anchor, to grow its market share and attract great talent.
I think that I thrive in challenging times because I have a cool and calm leadership style and can stay focused and move decisions and businesses forward.
5. Is there anything that you wish you could go back and tell yourself at the beginning of your career?
I guess it would be, don’t try to “sugarcoat” bad news. Always tell the honest-to-God truth about everything, even if the truth is “I don’t know.” Always take the high road, be a straight-shooter, and try to be fair.
6. Who is someone that has had a significant effect on your career and why?
I’ve had the opportunity to work along-side some amazing entrepreneurs, Steve Pollack, the founder of Anchor, for example, in the Private Lending space; and Bill Dallas the serial-entrepreneur on the residential side. And I’ve learned a lot from them. But if I had to pick the single greatest influencer, it would be my father, Albert Pollock, who owned a large electronics store. Every night, at the dinner table, he taught me about business, finance, making fair deals, and how putting family first can actually help you in your professional life.
7. What has been your favorite aspect of being in Private Lending over the years?
I love the fact that our industry doesn’t fear the future, we shape it. We look at tired, aging houses and see opportunities to transform them into upgraded homes. We look at undeveloped property lots and see desirable building sites. And then we provide financing — for fix and flip, ground-up construction and rental properties — that expands America’s housing stock, one home at a time.
8. What would you consider to be the highlight of your career thus far?
I’ve been fortunate to have the very best of careers … in positions that have challenged me and solidified my leadership skills … and this certainly is the case at Anchor. So, I guess I’d have to point to my time at Anchor as the highlight.
9. What do you enjoy most about your job? Least?
My greatest strength, and what gives me the most joy, is building relationships within the organizations I’ve led, with my customers, and with our business partners. I’m a savvy negotiator who understands that all parties need to win at the table, and I’m able to make that happen. I’m probably less happy when I’m reporting about what’s happening, rather than making it happen.
10. Is time or money more valuable and why?
Time. You can always make more money.
11. How do you make sure your company stays ahead in this industry?
First, by hiring the best people. Over the past three years, we’ve built a very strong, very talented team at Anchor, and it is only getting stronger with the addition of our new CEO, Ray Mathoda. Second, invest in the technology. At Anchor, we’ve built a vertically integrated platform that delivers accurate valuations in 24-48 hours, provides risk-based pricing and services our loans.
12. What tools do you use to aid you in your role to be most efficient, organized, and focused?
I’m old school. I use a pencil and a pad of paper and a journal for taking notes. I also re-prioritize my list every day so that I can focus on the most important things, every day. Plus, I get the satisfaction of crossing things off my to-do lists.
13. Has your role changed significantly to address the current environment?
Yes, even before we brought on our new CEO my role was changing. I was spending more time in the field, meeting with current and past clients and prospects, visiting projects, showing the Anchor “flag”, and spreading the word that Anchor is in this business for the long run. We are, and will be, a reliable source of liquidity in good cycles and bad.
14. What advice would you give to someone who has just started out in Private Lending?
Love the clients and what they do, which is to transform run-down properties into appealing, upgraded homes. Don’t focus so much on the business of Private Lending per se, because that’s going to change. And in fact, already is.
15. How will Private Lending change to adapt to the current market trends?
As often happens in down cycles like the one we’re in, newer, less well-capitalized lenders will be forced to retrench or close. We’re seeing this already. Companies like Anchor, which have been in business for 25 years and have a strong committed parent, will not only persevere but will grow share and attract clients and lending talent.