How to be an asset manager

“Lee – how do I get a job at the bank?” (and be just like you)

First and foremost, this is such an extremely loaded question that I have been asked so many times over the last several years, I have oftentimes shied away from really answering the question.

The question most ask is, how do I be a level one, two or three loan counselor and be a “monkey” desk jockey like the one answering the phones on my short sale?

It is a 10-12 per hour job that is so thankless and so stressful, I’m not sure why anyone would want that job. It means waking up everyday and answering calls on files with varying levels of incompentency to arrogance on short sale files. The facilities are housed all over the country in the cheapest possible locations to reduce the costs for the participating bank, so when you leave the job you are still stuck in the town where the job is. It is a horrible life and a thankless position. You aspire for a higher level of “monkey-dom” and possibility a few “monkeys” of your own to manage. Without a college degree you will never see higher levels of bank service.

The hiarchy of a bank is comprised of people who have zero clue of what life is like on the ground level. They have multiple degrees in everything from business, finance, accounting and even psychology. Brilliant ethereal thinkers who talk and react on a macro level, pushing and pulling at the cogs that shape the US economy and how they interrelate within that economy; it is really impressive.

The problem is the one too many cooks in the kitchen mentality. In every bank organizational chart are countless VP’s of varying rank, size and educational level that shape the movements passed down the food chain. Ultimately it becomes a massive game of “telephone” where the message gets lost in the translation either up or down the VP line. Hence, the inability for anyone to understand what anyone is actually doing or the real direction of the voice of the organization.

I loved Mike Perry; he was an extraordinary CEO of IndyMac bank. He was a visionary with connection, scope and broad range and created the company from the ground up. It easily could have been one of the top banks in the US at this moment if it weren’t for “certain” forces that apparently had plans to create a bank of their own. I am not saying that the current hiarchy of One West has political ties and it was a political figure that crushed IndyMac…however one can do their own research. My only comment is simply this; it must suck when the bully steals your lunch. I often wonder if it was Karma that caught Mike.

To be me, there are certain rules that one must live by if you intend to collect money and be a true asset manager. There are harsh, stark and very real rules that you must operate by if you intend to be a real “collector”.

Rule 1: NO FEAR!
That’s right; I will do what I must to collect the asset I am after. Early in my career at IndyMac (I was still a temp) I had to foreclose on multiple people that had connections to high level VP’s, and that didn’t stop me, didn’t scare me and I personally didn’t care. It goes with the job. I collected on the assets. I had the same VP’s bark and scream in my face when I roasted their friends over the coals to get what I was after.

The age old statement of this isn’t personal, its just business is so true its frightening. However imagine being in your early twenties and standing in a courtroom room doing evictions. Watching families beg, cry and plead in front of their own children to stay in their homes. If you’re wondering if that has deep lasting psychological scars, let me confirm it for you. You just stop feeling! This may have an affect on your personal life, and may cause later issues with personal intimacy between yourself and other humans. It is no joke and not an understatement to say that most asset managers I have ever met have bad drinking or addiction problems. There really aren’t too many that I have encountered that are completely together (for the record 17 years sober).

Sadly, this is even harder to deal with than not having emotions. The real life of an asset manger is dealing with hip, slick and very smooth criminals trying to pull a fast one. The asset management group is generally the police department for the bank. One part CSI and one part law enforcement, which would mean I would need to know the laws of real estate and lending, just as well as my own legal department. To catch, collect and extract money from all shapes and sizes as an asset manger, you must be a cynical thinker. You always look for the angle that someone is trying to work. If you couple that with no emotions and no fear… you are on your way to becoming a beast in servicing for a bank. As a note there is once again a downside, this cynical side does not really turn off at the end of the day either. So you may tend to become a little paranoid in your day to day life, there are many medications on the market to help balance that.

I wanted to be a chef 22 years ago; my father sucked me into this business. I was trained by some of the best and brightest minds of Beneficial Finances VP’s and presidents, they shaped me into what I am now. I have worked for multiple banks all in some form of asset protection on either the REO side or the collection side. I am the perfected creature of asset protection and servicing.

I am also McKenzie’s dad and I doubt that I could ever go back to that life.

Choose wisely if you go down this path.

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