More than 25 years ago, a group of world-class poker players realized there was a small industry – fix and flip investments in real estate – that offered attractive lending opportunities but was not being served by conventional lenders and banks. From this realization, Anchor Loans was born. Today, Anchor Loans remains the nation’s leading private, direct lender to experienced residential real estate investors and builders with more than $13 billion in loans funded to date.
For the entirety of Anchor Loans’ existence, the firm has built deep client relationships that lead to substantial repeat business — more than 75 percent of clients have come from referrals. When it came time to establish a new relationship to elevate the lender’s capabilities and footprint with a new CEO, Anchor Loans tapped industry veteran Rayman ‘Ray’ Mathoda to take the helm in February 2023.
Long before the pivotal poker game transpired, Ray was living far from California in India where she was born and raised. She thrived as the Delhi State Swimming Champion and, in academics, became involved with public speaking and social movements. She strove to serve the nation by following in the footsteps of her public servant father, but something was missing.
Having grown up in a family that primarily consisted of doctors, Ray said her life path was charted in her head from a young age – become educated on capitalism and business in the United States or the U.K., return to India, take part in an arranged marriage within the Sikh community, grow a business, and ultimately run for state or national public office.
However, as she continued to learn about her own truth and the possibilities that lay on the horizon in the U.S. and India, she became disillusioned with this prefabricated destiny. After attending Princeton and Northwestern Universities, she became a U.S. citizen and ventured into a career in business. This career has included C-level positions at McKinsey, Genesis Capital, Hudson & Marshall (now ServiceLink Auction), and Xome.
Most recently, Ray was a co-founder and partner at Emerge Life Sciences, a portfolio of biotech start-ups focused on developing and commercializing genomics and protein engineering solutions to serve lower-income consumers in India and emerging markets.
This new journey in America also included coming to terms with her queer identity. Because of her traditional upbringing in India, Ray said she approached coming out with trepidation but added that the support from the LGBTQ+ community has allowed her to live as her authentic self.
“I didn’t think that falling in love was in the cards for me,” she joked. “But, outside of my plans, I fell in love with my soulmate at a high school reunion and it changed my life. Coming out, though, wasn’t followed by feelings of pride. It led to periods of shame and rejection for me and within my progressive and highly educated family. Even though progress has been made, I still carry those feelings of rejection and loss of family. That is one of the many reasons why I continue to advocate for LGBTQ+ issues in the Desi community and beyond in the U.S.”
In a 2022 article written for American Kahani, a publication geared towards Indian Americans, Ray said it is critical for the Indian community to embrace all aspects of LGBTQ+ life.
“The Desi diaspora must realize that the only way Desi LGBTQ+ individuals can live open lives of truth and acceptance — key to their mental health — is if our straight allies and family members come out in support of us, to protect us, to model the right behavior for others, especially elders, and to give LGBTQ+ children and youth shelter so they may become strong and prosper,” she said.
Ray currently serves as Director at Mosaic Sustainable Finance, one of the nation’s leading clean energy fintechs, and as Chairperson of the Board at Desi Rainbow Parents & Allies, the leading – and only national – 501(c)(3) non-profit serving South Asian LGBTQ+ families in the U.S.
The continued fight for acceptance and equality, Ray said, is a source of inspiration for her – especially as she sees young Indian Americans fighting for representation in business and beyond. In addition to her advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community, Ray said she draws inspiration from two unlikely sources: the yogic tradition in India, and a small, green alien.
“The yogis believe that the most important thing in life is to try to understand and live in reality as it is, and not as we want it to be,” she said. “My other source of wisdom has been Yoda in the Star Wars franchise when he tells Luke ‘Do or not do, there is no try.’ To me, that means the job of a leader is to do whatever it takes to succeed, not just try my best.”
This mantra of doing whatever it takes to succeed within the bounds of ethics is a mindset that carries over into her work at Anchor Loans. In a post-2008-9 Wall Street crash and COVID-19 landscape, Ray said it is critical to build the healthiest team possible.
“We are aggressively acquiring the talent, knowledge, and resources to build on our current strengths and insights,” she said. “We are expanding our product offerings beyond fix and flip, bridge loans, and single-family rental, and are also leveraging our relationship with Pretium to find ways to become even more valuable for our clients, beyond just capital.”
(Anchor Loans was acquired by Pretium in 2021. Pretium is a specialized alternative investment management firm focused on U.S. residential real estate, residential credit, and corporate credit with more than $50 billion in assets.)
Anchor’s message to the marketplace is simple: they intend to be the dependable source of capital at scale. To accomplish this, Ray knows that she will have to add the infrastructure and origination capabilities needed to scale, something she has done successfully in the past.
“When I was co-CEO at Genesis, I was able to transform and scale what was then a local Los Angeles-focused lender to create a successful and profitable national lender focused on larger, more sophisticated developers,” Ray said. “We were also able to build a more institutional platform that eventually made it an attractive acquisition candidate for Goldman Sachs.”
At Anchor Loans, Ray said one of her primary goals is to build on the firm’s momentum and status as a thought leader in the lending space. This cannot be done, though, by being complacent and putting talent development on the back burner.
“We are building the infrastructure today that will drive value and revenue growth for tomorrow,” she said. “To deliver continuous improvement in our partnerships with experienced real estate entrepreneurs, we are expanding our origination teams to serve all major markets across the country and doubling down on product innovation, data/analytics, and customer service. We’re in the process of finalizing new build-to-rent and single-family rental programs, including financing for build-to-rent communities and large-scale SFR portfolios.”
Continuing to grow Anchor Loans, however, is not a one-person journey. One of the things that attracted Ray to Anchor in the first place was the quality of the organization and culture that her predecessor, and now partner, Andy Pollock, had built. She is committed to deepening the firm’s leadership and further evolving the healthy, non-political company culture as a springboard for hiring additional talent in major markets. Her goal, she added, is to leverage the combined strength of new and existing talent to build Anchor Loans into the unassailable leader in private, direct lending.
In her first few months, Ray has recruited Brent Mahoney from Genesis to join Anchor as CFO and recently named Courtney Jacobson, a transformational leader and executor, to a newly created position of Chief Growth and Efficiency Officer. Ray, Courtney, and Chief Revenue Officer, Brad Chmura, have significantly upgraded Anchor’s business intelligence capabilities and launched an integrated sales and marketing effort that, year-to-date, has produced a 30% increase in new clients.
When asked about longer-term growth, Ray said Anchor Loans is always working on new ideas outside the confines of what traditionally constitutes lending. Of note, she added that her team is dedicated to sustaining relationships with experienced developers and sharing macro and microeconomic data and insights into portfolios.
Ray added that Anchor is closely monitoring emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning and is committed to operationalizing them where they make the most sense.
She also pushes back on the commonly held perception that the real estate sector is technologically adverse. “Not every product in America is available online, but the entire inventory of U.S. homes is. Whether it is through pictures, and now increasingly video, you can visit homes and then drill down into an incredible amount of data about the property and the neighborhood,” she said. “Where I think Anchor can continue to grow is in our commitment to utilizing technology in a way that further improves our customer experience and creates simplicity and transparency for all stakeholders who interact with us.”
With this investment in technology, innovation, and human capital, Ray said, Anchor Loans can build stable and efficient sources of funding for experienced developers, builders, and SFR owners to become an ‘all-weather,’ national originator that thrives in down cycles as well as up. A lender, she added, that can “grow with our partners as they migrate into different product segments.”
“Many of the newer lenders and market entrants have relied on price and leverage to grow and, in the process, exposed themselves to risk,” she said. “If you look across our industry today, what you see is an incredible level of destabilization and change. Business-purpose lenders have suspended their loan programs because they don’t have cost-effective, long-term funding strategies. What we’re seeing is the market forcing discipline on our industry.”
Despite these changes in the marketplace – and apprehension when conditions are less than favorable – Ray said Anchor Loans has the opportunity to double down on its commitment to growth and top-tier customer service.
“When I think about what excites me the most about what Anchor has been able to build over the past two decades, it isn’t lost on me how much potential we have, and how we can continue to scale products to adapt to our customer needs,” she said. “Even though I have been in this position for less than six months, I already have a sense of how passionate this team is about providing the best service possible and keeping an eye on what the future holds.”
Anchor Loans’ mission is to provide dependable, competitive financing to real estate investors to upgrade aging homes, build new homes, improve neighborhoods, and expand housing opportunities. If you would like to learn more about the services and products offered by Anchor Loans, visit anchorloans.com.