What was your first job in the realty industry? A two-year rotational training program at LaSalle Bank. It included time in various departments, including private banking, mortgage lending, commercial lending and commercial banking. It provided a broad overview for much of the banking and lending worlds that I operate within today.
Where did you grow up? The northwest suburbs (Palatine and Barrington, to be exact).
What is your favorite free-time activity? Biking, watching and playing sports, and reading.
What do you do to relax when you’re stressed? I get up from my office and take a walk around, or go outside for five minutes to clear my head and get a little perspective. I realize that minute-by-minute issues will be handled and all usually will work out for the best.
Growing up, what did you want to be? I wanted to either design golf courses (I was a big golfer in my youth) or I wanted to design satellites for space. Looking up and seeing the stars and galaxies has always fascinated me and makes me realize our problems are very small in the big picture.
If you could have lunch with a well-known figure (living or not), who would it be and why? I would have to say Abraham Lincoln. There would be so much to talk about and to learn from him: how he tried to keep our country from falling completely apart with such division between the North and the South; trying to get his legislative agenda accomplished in a very divisive period of time; and to ask what he would have done differently if given a second chance.
What do you love most about the industry? Helping clients who are nervous or distrustful about the mortgage lending process; they may even feel that they will not be able to get into their dream home. I plan, advise and use my 27-plus years of experience and thoughtfulness to help make it for the client. Seeing their happy and smiling faces at their purchase or refinance closing makes all of the effort worthwhile!
How do you distinguish yourself from competitors? I follow up well, and have a strong team of professionals around me to lend the proper support for me and to make a confusing process simpler and clearer for the client. I also have the financial background where I can talk to clients about the credit and bond markets in an intelligent and understandable manner. I read the news and the financial papers to keep current. For lending transactions, I keep all parties within the transaction in the know and up-to-date, so everyone is on the same page and there are few, if any, surprises.
What is the most difficult aspect of your job? Unfair credit guidelines that take some common sense out of the hands of the decision-makers, where you can clearly see that a client should get the loan, even if it does not fit into a certain box. Experience and strong knowledge on how to best structure financing deals does help to keep that to a minimum, but it is still there from time-to-time.
What is your favorite restaurant? My favorite restaurant is a local Italian place named LaScarola on Grand Avenue in Chicago. Great food, and I know all of the staff by name – there is such an energy in the place that it makes you feel like you are at your home away from home!
Architecturally speaking, what is your favorite building in Chicago? Anything by Frank Lloyd Wright or Louis Sullivan. My father is an architect, so I seem to have an appreciation for the style of architecture that I grew up with!
What is your advice for someone new to the industry? Work hard, follow up, make only promises that you can keep, be realistic as to what can and can’t be done at where you work and most importantly, be ethical. If you do those things you may lose a few battles along the way, but in the end with your career, you will win the war!