1. Why did you choose Private Lending?
It was not a conscious decision. It was something I fell into. In 2008, someone I knew from a former job approached me and asked if I wanted to start a lending business with him. It was when mortgage companies were closing, and real estate prices were unstable. The job I had at the time was winding down, so without a plan on where I was going next, I accepted his invitation. We formed Rehab Financial Group LP, and the rest is history.
2. What is your current role and what do you do day to day?
I am the Managing Member of Rehab Financial Group LP, which means that I have my hand in all aspects of running the company and do whatever needs to be done to keep the business moving forward. I approve all new policies and procedures, supervise preparation and adherence to budgets, approve all capital expenses, and manage communications with investors, including capital raising. I also participate in hiring and training employees and office related tasks such as shredding and cleaning.
What excites you about your role today?
The growth of the company and the advancement of employees within it. We have several employees that have been with RFG several years and have excelled in their job performance. Nothing excites me more than seeing people grow and realize their own dreams of being able to provide for themselves and their families.
3. 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?
I had a boss that was the CEO of a company. He was the most selfish person I ever met. He had no respect for any of the employees and was constantly on his headset walking around the office speaking loudly. It did not matter if you were a senior officer or a lower- level employee. He was obnoxious, abusive, overbearing, and entitled. I knew how the rest of the staff viewed him – which explained the tremendous employee turnover within the company. Ultimately, the company failed. I learned from him how not to treat employees and the value gained by respecting EVERYONE that works in the office. I try every day to be that sort of leader. I try to make sure that the RFG employees know that I value them and respect them for their hard work and contributions.
4. Is there anything that you wish you could go back and tell yourself at the beginning of your career?
I would love to go back and tell myself to relax. All the energy I wasted on stress was not worth it. The best way to manage a problem is to attack it, look for solutions, and work toward resolution. In the early days of my career, I was unable to put these events into perspective and let them overwhelm me. It is not that I do not currently have stress in my life. It is that I can put it in its place.
5. Who is someone that has had a significant effect on your career and why?
As cliché as it might sound, it is my father. I grew up in a very traditional home – dad was a doctor who worked long hours while my college-educated mom stayed home and raised the children. In adulthood, I realize that this was a choice they made together. Although traditional, my father saw the world in realistic terms and raised his two daughters in the same way he raised his son. He wanted us to be independent women who would never need to rely on a man to support us. He encouraged me to go the best college I could, regardless of cost. When I decided to go to law school after working in retailing for ten years, he paid my tuition, which made that possible.
6. What has been your favorite aspect of being in private lending over the years?
The best part has been seeing the growth in the industry and the growing diversity of private lenders. When I started RFG, my first AAPL meeting was a sea of white men. Over the years, I have seen an influx of women and people of color, which makes the industry stronger.
7. What would you consider to be the highlight of your career thus far?
The best part of my private lending career is the opportunity to see my company grow from three employees to over thirty. I have two sons, and RFG is my third child! I am as proud of RFG as I am of my two young men.
8. What do you enjoy most about your job? Least?
I love when I help people realize their dreams through doing projects with RFG. We have many customers who are immigrants or people from disadvantaged beginnings and start with one project and then expand to many. These people are hardworking and frequently do rehab projects in addition to their full-time jobs. Seeing them live the American dream and build generational wealth is a wonderful thing to be part of. My least favorite part is when people disappoint me and having to deal with that. Whether it is employee malfeasance or customers who do not pay, dealing with the fallout is generally unpleasant.
9. Is time or money more valuable and why?
If you had asked my when I was younger, I would have said that money was more valuable, as I perceived that time was unlimited. Now, I know that time is so much more valuable. Money can be replenished, but time cannot be regained. There is way too much to see and do in this world to waste any time!
10. How do you make sure your company stays ahead in this industry?
At RFG, we are constantly monitoring what our competition is doing, reading financial and real-estate related news, and talking to our customers. We periodically assess our product offerings along with our policies and procedures to make sure that we stay ahead of the curve and our competition.
11. What tools do you use to aid you in your role to be most efficient, organized, and focused?
I am a big believer in calendar control. Every day on my calendar is full of the things that I need to get done on that day. As each item gets finished, I mark it as done. If the day gets away from me, I review the remaining tasks for the day and decide what I need to finish that day and what I can move to a subsequent day. I never end a day without completing everything on my calendar or assigning it to another day. There is almost no task too small to get added to the calendar, so I do not lose track.
12. Has your role changed significantly to address the current environment?
As RFG has grown, I have had to take a role in handling large issues and delegating management of smaller issues to members of the RFG management team. It has taken some time and considerable effort for me to be able to do this, but this transition has taken place. Given the current instability in the capital markets, I have become stricter on expenses and where RFG spends money. Previously, I might have been more willing to experiment with different ideas, but I believe the current climate calls for conservation of capital and going back to basics for the time being.
13. What advice would you give to someone who has just started out in private lending?
Do your homework. This is a difficult business, and it is necessary to know the fundamentals. I would also emphasize the importance of being an honest actor – this is a fairly small industry that is not kind to the scammers of the world who give us all a bad name.
14. How will private lending change to adapt to the current market trends?
Private lending will continue to contract in many ways in the current market. We have already seen many of our peer companies go out of business due to the limitations on loan sales by Wall Street buyers. The lenders left will continue to modify their requirements and underwriting to insulate against riskier loans. Only those that lend very conservatively and have good access to cash are likely to survive the next 12 – 18 months.