Andrea L. Petro
2019 Inductee, Waterfall Asset Management, LLC
Andrea Petro is a managing director at Waterfall Asset Management, LLC, where she leads the Specialty Commercial Finance Group for the firm. Andrea began her commercial lending career with First City National Bank of Houston. Andrea began lending to specialty finance companies at Transamerica Business Credit in 1992, and in 2000 established the Lender Finance Division of Wells Fargo Capital Finance, which she led for 17 years.
Andrea is the past president of Secured Finance Network (formerly Commercial Finance Association) and is a member of the SFNet Board of Directors. She is currently a member of the Secured Finance Foundation Board of Directors. She is also a member of the M.S. Advisory Council of the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin.
Andrea graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kent State University and received a Master of Business Administration from The University of Texas at Austin.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I was recruited by the ABL subsidiary of the bank that I joined after graduating from the MBA program at the University of Texas at Austin. I began my lending career as a middle-market banker in Houston, Texas. The bank relied on the asset-based lending group for expertise on collateral and audits and the ABL group was frequently in our credit committee. As a young banker, I was permitted to pitch the easy deals to the committee. For some reason the ABL group decided they liked me and thought I would be a good fit for their business. I was very lucky to have been sponsored by the ABL group head. Most of the managers had been recruited from GE and I benefitted significantly from their expertise and training. They were incredibly knowledgeable and generous teaching me all the nuances of asset-based lending.
What advice would you offer to someone just starting out in the industry?
Learn everything you can about different disciplines and functions within the asset-based lending industry. Don’t be afraid to take on positions that may be lateral moves if they provide the opportunity to explore and develop in-depth knowledge that could enable you to become an expert within a role or an industry that appeals to you. At the same time develop quality relationships within your organization and also with colleagues in the industry. Volunteer for projects and committees in which you can learn to work effectively with teams.
What are some of the most memorable moments of your career?
Being hired to develop a de novo Lender Finance business for Transamerica Business Credit in 1992 after a 30-minute interview! Joining Foothill Capital Corporation in 2000 and working with Scott Diehl, Henry Jordan, John Nickoll and Peter Schwab, who all taught me extremely valuable lending and management lessons. Closing the first transaction for Waterfall Asset Management after joining the firm in 2018.
What role did SFNet play in your career development?
SFNet (formerly Commercial Finance Association) has served as a solid foundation for my career. When I first became an asset-based lender, my management team encouraged me to become a member of SFNet. The formal and informal educational resources available through the SFNet have proved to be invaluable and have helped me to establish a comprehensive understanding of how to lend to higher risk obligors and seek to avoid losses. Just as important are the relationships established which have been instrumental in many employment opportunities that were made available to me throughout my career. Additionally, being an active member of the SFNet provides experience working on committees and offers insights on how to effectively manage teams to achieve shared goals.