William R. Davis
2019 Inductee, Congress Financial Corporation
Bill Davis’ career in asset-based lending spanned 39 years with experience in all aspects of credit, underwriting, business development, workouts and senior leadership.
Bill served as president of Congress Financial Corporation, a leading bank-owned ABL lender in the United States, Britain and Canada for 12 years. Congress was acquired by First Union/Wachovia Bank and he was named managing director and head of asset-based finance and executive vice president within the investment bank.
During his career, Bill has been a director and executive board member of the Commercial Finance Association, a director of the Turnaround Management Association and frequent speaker on asset-based lending, bank commercial lending, turnaround financing and restructuring as well as various managerial topics.
Bill and his wife of 48 years, Linda, maintain homes in Palm Beach Gardens, FL and Ocean City, NJ. They enjoy traveling and spending time with their three grandchildren and family. Bill and Linda work with numerous dog and other animal rescues along with other charitable pursuits. Linda has been a volunteer for Hospice of Palm Beach for the past 10 years. Bill spends the majority of his time as a professional musician.
How did you get your start in the industry?
While serving in the United States Air Force I began to take business courses. Upon my discharge, I used the GI Bill to complete my accounting education. I joined First Pennsylvania Bank in Philadelphia as a field examiner in the accounts receivable department.
Prior to entering the field, I was seriously considering a return to the military. After some vigorous training with individuals that became strong mentors I was committed to the business. I was using my accounting knowledge, traveling and seeing businesses and various industries with different challenges every few weeks.
Of course, public accounting offered much the same advantages, but at higher compensation. I thought hard about making a change and discussed it with two people I respected: The late great friend and mentor, Ted Kompa, and Leo Yarfitz. Both told me I had a “nose” for the industry, a strong work ethic and that, coupled with my personality, I could go far. They then promoted me to account executive and examination manager.
Fortunately they were right and I experienced a very rewarding career working with many talented people and generally great customers.
What advice would you offer to someone just starting out in the industry?
Throughout my years in the industry I have been asked this question many times and of course there are no simple answers to this question. Over the years, there are a few suggestions that seem to endure regardless of changes in the industry, economy or the world around us.
- Never compromise your honesty to make a point or win a deal.
- Never be reluctant to ask questions. Be a sponge! Never stop learning!
- Understand, and buy into your institution’s credit appetite and risk tolerance to avoid wasting time.
- Expand your contacts and referral sources. Work with SFNet contacts.
- Work to become well rounded and someone that can fill many needs.
- Respect others in your organization at all times. This also applies to contacts outside your firm. The ABL industry is relatively small; you will have to work with, others again. This is advice for life not just the business!
- No matter how well you perform, keep your ego in check! Think team first!
- If possible, don’t change employers too frequently.
- Be a mentor!
- The industry is very rewarding but can be stressful at times. Work toward a healthy life/work balance.