Ward Mooney photo

Ward Mooney

2019 Inductee, Crystal Financial

Born in Hawaii, Mooney lived outside of Providence, RI, and graduated Johns Hopkins University (BA and MBA). His first position in corporate lending was at Equitable Bank in 1971 in Baltimore (now Bank of America). In 1978, he joined Rhode Island Hospital Trust National Bank (now Bank of America) as executive managing director in the Precious Metals Group, (financing and trading gold, silver and platinum) with offices in London and Hong Kong. In 1992, Mooney joined Gordon Brothers Group in Boston. Mooney was a founder and CEO of Gordon Brothers Finance Company’s (GBFC) first corporate finance group to focus on asset-based lending to retailers. At the time, retail inventory was not an asset that was traditional for asset-based lenders. In 1997 GBFC was acquired by Bank of Boston, and the concept of asset-based lending for retailers expanded significantly. In 1998 the team established BackBay Capital, the first asset-based fund focused on underwriting second lien debt to a wide variety of different industries. In 2006 the team founded Crystal Financial to operate as a non-bank asset-based lender to businesses who required timely, and flexible secured capital to meet their operational and strategic objectives. Today Crystal Financial is owned by Solar Capital (SLRC), a public BDC. Crystal continues to be an industry leader for complex debt underwritings. 

Mooney currently serves on the Board of the American Repertory Theatre (Harvard University); the Board of Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals; the Board of directors of DXL Group, (Chairman of Audit Committee); the Board of Beth Israel Hospital, Boston (finance committee) 2006-2008 and served as president and chairman of the Turnaround Management Association (TMA 2005-2006). 

What advice would you offer to someone just starting out in the industry?

New participants and professionals in the asset-based lending industry are the most important and guaranteed resource for future success. The usual entry positions are either analyst or auditor and both provide a full view of the nuances, challenges, and opportunities of the industry. As in most new career situations, it is important to work hard with an enthusiasm that allows for not only learning and executing the specific tasks of your position, but also to obtain a good understanding of all aspects of the business, and if possible, the expectations and concerns of the clients. Constantly ask questions, meet new associates and, pay attention to opportunities to suggest new ideas and concepts that would have a positive impact on your success and the results of your firm. Delivering a great work product and becoming a change agent are critical for long term success.

What are some of the most memorable moments of your career?

There are many memorable moments, but from a macro perspective visualizing, initiating and executing a new successful business enterprise is always full of memorable moments. Developing the mission, building the team and exceeding the expectations of your customers and investors creates many good memories that grow out of teamwork and good execution. The memory that always provides the most enthusiasm is winning a new financing opportunity.

Important memories are also created when members of your team achieve a high level of success, and career advancement through their hard work, and the results they achieve.

What role did SFNet play in your career development?

When we were starting up GBFC in 1992, I attended my first Secured Finance Network (formerly Commercial Finance Association) Annual Convention, which that year was in Toronto. At that time there was a subsection of SFNet membership called “small independent financial companies.” At the convention they had time for their own gathering and meetings which I attended. John Fox was the chairman of the committee. At the meeting I was able to meet many successful entrepreneurs who had started independent finance companies. I was able to learn many important lessons, regarding leverage, size of the balance sheet, and potential mistakes to avoid. This meeting was an important catalyst to developing the business plan and financial model for GBFC.






75th Annual Convention

75The industry event anyone in secured finance attends now celebrates its 75th year. SFNet, formerly CFA, is set to make the New York City convention a memorable one. Click below to register.