Charles G. Johnson
2019 Inductee, Secured Finance Foundation
Charlie is a retired financial executive with more than 50 years of leadership in the asset-based financial services industry. His experience includes serving as president and CEO of a publicly traded specialty finance company and as ABL division president at several major commercial banks and independent finance companies. Charlie has held various positions of responsibility covering all aspects of business development, underwriting, portfolio management and operations. During his career, he had extensive restructuring experience and has financed all types of manufacturing, distribution, transportation, and service companies. A 1968 graduate of Georgetown University earning a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, Charlie also earned an MBA in Finance at the University of Hartford in 1972. He is a Past Director, Executive and Management Committee Member, President (2000), and Chairman (2001) of the Secured Finance Network (formerly Commercial Finance Association). Charlie has published articles on various topics related to factoring, asset-based and cash flow lending. He has testified before Congress on matters related to Intellectual Property as Collateral. He currently serves as Chairman of the Secured Finance Foundation (formerly CFA Education Foundation) and a director of Axiom Bank, (Maitland, FL) and Magnolia Financial, Inc. (Spartanburg, FL). Charlie, Jane (friend, lover, and wife of 47 years), and Midnight (Lab mix) live in Fort Myers, Florida.
Charlie’s nominator described him as “a role model for all that is good in our industry. If anyone deserves recognition for his service to our industry and SFNet, it is Charlie Johnson.”
What advice would you offer to someone just starting out in the industry?
Be patient. Spend time learning the basics of the entry level positions of each major function: operations, field exam, account management, underwriting, and business development. Find a mentor early on…someone to whom you can ask all the questions. Then, if secured lending is still as interesting and exciting as you thought it would be, start working on a career path. Develop goals and a timeline that will serve as your guide and provide a sense of purpose and motivation.
What are some of the most memorable moments of your career? And, How did you get your start in the industry?
Here are a couple. First was when I was just six months out of college, the very first day of my ABL/factoring career. I had just finished Connecticut Bank and Trust’s training program and was coming to the realization that a career in traditional commercial banking might be less exciting than I had hoped. That’s when I met Richard Mount who managed CBT’s Accounts Receivable Financing Department. He took me out of the office for a visit to one of the bank’s AR financing customers. It turned out to be what we now refer to as a field exam. I thought “How interesting; I get to really look into this guy’s business and see how it works.” Being the inquisitive type, a job that offered lots of opportunity to learn about many different businesses seemed much more interesting. After that I had my sense of purpose and my career path started to become clear.
Another moment was in November 1979 when I attended my first Annual Convention of SFNet (at that time National Commercial Finance Association) in Dallas Texas. That’s when I met a whole bunch of very interesting people, including Len Machlis, Bruce Jones, and many of our past presidents, the leaders of our industry at the time who all demonstrated commitment to the continuing development of ABL and factoring as a true profession.
What role did SFNet play in your career development?
SFNet has always provided the opportunity for personal networking with peers in other organizations. Over the years I have found this to be an invaluable resource. The friendships made during trade association meetings and events have allowed me to discuss issues and share solutions with other ABL professionals facing the very same problems and successes at each stage of my career journey.