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2021 Inductee, Heller Business Credit
Dave Kantes studied the basics of asset-based lending at Duquesne University and progressed to study corporate finance and advanced data analytics via an M.B.A at Seton Hall, subsequently being appointed an Adjunct Finance Professor at both Fordham and Seton Hall. Len Machlis, longtime SFNet executive director, tapped him to help start and instruct at the SFNet Wharton Credit Institute, thereby mentoring and supporting the development of future SFNet leaders. SFNet relationships were instrumental during his entire professional career.
Kantes began his career at Milberg Factors, partner to Chase Bank, to help integrate the acquisition of five formerly independent finance and technology companies. Kantes also applied some of his academic research skills and knowledge to form a Chase LBO Team and grow profitable assets as well as Chase customer relationships. Kantes subsequently followed Bill Gruttemayer from Chase as he became chairman of Talcott, appointed him as president of Talcott Business Credit and to help sell Talcott to Core States Financial. Luckily, former Secured Finance Network (SFNet) chairman Rick Gilbert of CitiCorp Industrial Credit hired him as credit head and “due diligence process Czar.” After a major consolidation within CitiCorp, he joined with Lou Rubin to co- found, as COO, the “de-novo” start-up of NatWest Credit. With the later bank consolidation of NatWest, Dave was recruited as president of Heller Business Credit to grow profitable, low-risk assets and enable the IPO of Heller and later sale to GE Capital. Thereafter, and until retiring, Kantes served as a MD and head of credit for NatWest/ Royal Bank of Scotland and Siemens Financial. Kantes continues to be active by lecturing, mentoring and serving as a member of the Duquesne University Investment Council. He also performs “pro bono” investment and advisory work for several private foundations and family office funds.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I started at Milberg Factors, long on academic studies and research, but short on practical experience. My first challenge was to apply then-advanced analytics to automate and document automatic tiered factoring credit approvals. When Milberg innovated eight private-label joint ventures for ABL financing for selected banks, I was the “point person” that traveled and delivered their value proposition. I then followed a Milberg partner to Chase Bank to help integrate the acquisition and consolidation of five formerly independent finance and technology firms. I was asked by Chase to refine its data analytics segmentation skills to start an LBO/ Equity Sponsor coverage team. Subsequently, my career evolved, but the learned basics and ABL “best practices” served me well, advancing my career development, and taught me to innovate, adapt and add value— to team partners, the firm served and the productivity of the capital employed. I learned at multiple SFNet member organizations that to be successful the individual and firm must, in a sustainable manner, originate, audit, underwrite, risk assess, and portfolio manage challenging loans and customer relationships in an ever-changing macro environment. I encourage all SFNet members and their valued team members to attend and access the many excellent functional SFNet courses and volunteer to serve in any way possible.
What role did SFNet play in your career?
Unique for a trade association, the SFNet gives one the opportunity to network, build lifetime durable relationships and learn how to effectively follow and lead in a team-oriented structure. Whether through SFNet regional chapters, serving on SFNet committees or contributing time and resources to Foundation training courses and programs, any individual can accomplish their unique career advancement and personal development. Those who have chosen to serve in SFNet leadership roles can attest to the value added to their firms, team members and their personal proven skills inventory. Relationships developed via the SFNet accorded me the visibility, recognition and motivation that ultimately led to president, CEO, CRO and co-founding level positions.
Today, the SFNet has invested resources and adapted to the realities of the global pandemic and the limits to physical travel by innovating remote online courses to complement the more traditional face-to- face geographical delivery. Likewise, SFNet Regional Chapters foster local networking, knowledge and learning and the uniqueness of regional specialties and culture.