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2021 Inductee, Asset Based Lending Consultants
Donald Clarke, president of the Asset Based Lending Company Group (ABLC) and Don Clarke Enterprises (DCE), vaunts nearly 40 years of experience in commercial lending and leasing, asset-based lending, quality of earnings certification, and Fortune 500 corporate lending continuing education. Clarke, a 1972 graduate of the City University of New York, began his career with Bankers Trust Co. (NY) and Bank of New York (NY)
Recognized as one of the premiere experts in the field of asset-based lending disciplines, Clarke was interviewed and quoted by the Wall Street Journal. He also authored the first textbook on asset-based lending titled Asset Based Lending Disciplines, which covers the field examinations, operations, and accounts manager functions.
Clarke is a world-renowned scholar and teacher on the disciplines of asset-based lending. With over 30 years of instructional experience, he is currently serving as a senior instructor with the Secured Finance Network (SFNet) and was named Education Committee chair for the SFNet’s 2020-2021 Executive Board. Clarke is the 2019 recipient of SFNet’s prestigious Harry H. Chen Memorial Award of Excellence. Cumulatively, Clarke has taught over 5,000 students internationally on the disciplines of secured lending. He has also conducted seminars extensively in England, Australia, Puerto Rico and Ireland for major financial institutions.
What advice would you offer to someone just starting out in the industry?
The ABL space is the ideal place for young aspiring bankers/lenders to hone their skills and build lasting careers. You are constantly learning in an ever-changing environment. There is never a dull moment! When you are a generalist, you have the opportunity to look at the books and records of a myriad of companies across all spectrums of the global economy. The information you learn in this field is invaluable and will last for a lifetime.
What are some of the most memorable moments of your career?
There are many gratifying and memorable moments for me. On the field examination side, finding a potential fraud that prevents my customer/lender from sustaining a loan loss. This is one of the main reasons why I built my career on field examinations. Helping the lender navigate credit risk pitfalls is very gratifying to me. On the teaching side, following the careers of my students who rise to great heights in the ABL space, with some even becoming presidents of banks.
What role did SFNet play in your career development?
The CFA, now the SFNet, has played a pivotal role in the advancement of my career by providing me a platform to mentor and train the next generation. It also co-published my book Asset-Based Lending Disciplines, which is now hailed and used globally for training in the ABL space. SFNet has also allowed me the opportunity to head its Education Committee for the last two years, allowing me to help build curriculum and train/mentor aspiring instructors.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I started in 1972 at Bankers Trust, New York City in the accounts receivable department as a junior field examiner at the tender age of 21. I was recruited away to work at Bank of New York in 1974, followed by careers at Walter Heller Financial in Miami, Florida, before heading to Southeast Bank’s Leasing portfolio as chief credit officer and chief operations officer. From there, I started Asset Based Lending Consultants in 1986 and Don Clarke Enterprise and Seminars in 1988, and the rest has been a historical journey and has gotten me to this point.