Barry Bobrow is a widely respected thought leader in middle market leveraged finance and asset based lending. He has spent the past 37 years working in banking, most of it as a debt capital markets professional, primarily in leveraged lending and supply chain finance. Barry has managed highly successful loan syndication teams at several large banks, including Wells Fargo and Bank of America. He has been deeply involved in the asset based lending market for many years, and is currently on the Management Committee of the primary trade association for asset based lending – The Secured Finance Network (SFNet). Barry is also a past board member of the Loan Syndications and Trading Association (LSTA).
Barry is the creator and annual Chairman of the Asset Based Capital Conference (ABCC), an SFNet sponsored conference focusing on the middle market leveraged and asset based markets. In 2021 Barry was inducted into the SFNet Hall of Fame.
Barry has a BA in Economics and an MBA in Finance, both from the University of Michigan
In 2017 Barry was honored as Humanitarian of the Year by National Jewish Health’s annual Financial Industries Dinner, an event annually sponsored by all major players in the asset based industry.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I first became involved with asset-based lending while working for Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company in Chicago, which was acquired by Bank of America in 1984. Early in my career I intentionally pursued an opportunity to move from commercial banking to asset-based lending because it appeared to me that the people in asset-based lending were always working on interesting and challenging transactions. One of my early mentors told me that deal experience was one of the keys to a successful career in banking, and asset-based lending looked like a great way to achieve that. While I certainly earned more than I ever expected in terms of deal experience, the main benefit of my first job was a deep appreciation for the importance of credit skills as the foundation of a banking career. What I learned from that first job in asset-based lending has served me well over the past 35-plus years.
Early on in my work at Continental Bank, I became involved in loan syndication, both for asset-based and leveraged cashflow loans. The combination of asset-based lending and capital markets has been the skillset that has defined much of my career. I’m proud of the role I’ve played in the growth and increased sophistication of the asset-based syndication market over time. That growth has enabled the expansion of the overall asset-based market, which today plays an important role in the M&A and leveraged debt markets.
I am incredibly honored to be invited to join the Secured Finance Network Hall of Fame. What I most appreciate about this distinction is that honorees are selected by many of the people I have worked with over the last 35 years. To be selected by this group demonstrates the depth of the personal and professional relationships I have made throughout my career, and lets me know that my work has been valued by those with whom I worked so closely.
What role has SFNet played in your career?
SFNet has also played an important role in my career. From my earliest days in Chicago, I have benefited from the networking and educational opportunities SFNet provides. Getting involved in the governance of the organization has given me a chance to help shape the direction of the industry, while working closely with some of the smartest and most successful people in financial services. Most importantly, beginning in 2009, SFNet provided the resources and encouragement that enabled me to create and develop the Asset-Based Capital Conference (ABCC). The focus of ABCC on the intersection between asset-based lending and the broader capital markets has allowed it to become one of the most unique and important events in the middle-market leveraged-lending market.
For me, the most important benefit of my involvement with SFNet has been the way that it fosters relationships across the industry. I’ve always appreciated how people in the asset-based lending industry support each other as our various institutions evolve through both good and challenging times. The camaraderie we enjoy has always differentiated this industry and, when I think about why I’ve stayed involved with it for so long, I always come back to the qualities of the people I get to work with – smart, hard-working, honest, maybe a little eccentric, but always passionate, earnest, thoughtful and loyal. There’s something else about asset-based lenders – we believe that it’s important to be part of something bigger than ourselves – bigger than just our day-to-day jobs. SFNet has provided me with support and opportunity throughout my career, and I’m very proud to be recognized for my role in the industry.