March/April 2014 – Issue 2

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The unifying factor for the more experienced hires, DeMeo said, is to look for people who have worked in industries relying on unsecured credit, willingness and an ability to pay.

“Those are basic fundamentals and those don’t change, even if you change the variables or details. Its all pretty generic,” DeMeo said.

Recruiting from other industries also often results in happy accidents, Francis said.

“Sometimes when you bring people in from the outside, they have valuable knowledge you didn’t even know would be useful,” she said.

Finding the best talent is often a team effort, DeMeo said.

“We look at recruiting as not being ‘HR’s job.’ It is everyone’s job,” DeMeo said.

He said that engaging company leaders and top employees in the recruiting and hiring process helps identify the best recruits. It also helps find people who emulate the best of what the company already has, and often helps land the deal for job candidates who might otherwise be on the fence.

“Given the nature of our company, we are absolutely willing to train up and select the best and brightest people early in their careers,” DeMeo said.

Triumph of Training

Whether the new hires are coming in through the university, or as an expatriate from another industry, or they are an internal promotion rising through the ranks, they always need to be trained. Developing a world-class training program takes time. It takes resources. It takes money. And it pays massive dividends when done right.

At Strategic Funding, for example, when employees are hired, they work with a number of underwriters in a number of areas of the business, Reiser said.

“They learn all the different facets of our operation and all the different personalities who work here,” he said. “then they work very closely with the managers and in most cases, we try to cross train them in another area.”

Reiser said new hires begin by doing smaller deals, and company managers know full well that they will make mistakes in those deals. They use those mistakes as teachable moments and help them grow.

D’Amico said that a strong, formal training program is essential for building a team that is successful in the long term.

“We determine the best employees within the company that show the right mix of analytical, financial and common sense skills. We then place them in a junior role to be mentored by more senior underwriters and a formal training program. This process takes a little bit more time to develop underwriters but to date, this approach has helped us retain all of our underwriters as employees,” D’Amico said. “I’m a bit superstitious so knock on wood.”

D’Amico agrees that training doesn’t guarantee everyone will do the right thing every time.

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