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2022 Inductee, PKF Clear Thinking
Mark Fagnani began his career with Congress Financial in 1976 and worked there until 2010. Over the years, Congress changed its name several times and was ultimately known as Wachovia Capital Finance (WCF) until it was acquired by Wells Fargo in 2009 when it became Wells Fargo Capital Finance. Fagnani has practiced in almost every aspect of ABL, but spent most of his career as a special situations officer overseeing workouts and problem loans and ultimately served as chief credit officer of WCF and chairperson of their credit committee. In that capacity, Fagnani helped oversee a portfolio of over 650 loans with over $24B in commitments. After leaving Wells in 2010, he formed his own consulting practice, MSF Associates. In 2013 he helped form an ABL firm for a small regional bank, executed a sale of that business in 2015 to another bank and in 2018 helped form an ABL shop for another bank. In 2019 Fagnani gave up lending and joined PKF Clear Thinking as a business development officer for a premier consulting and turnaround firm where he is employed today.
What are some of the most memorable moments of your career?
There were times when we, as a firm, had to step out, take a chance and help a borrower really succeed or execute a turnaround. We may have broken some rules along the way and made what others thought were controversial decisions, but which we thought were well founded. Very often this worked out quite well. These were some of my most memorable and happiest moments. Times when I could go home believing we really had made a difference. I also enjoyed the maverick role and appreciate that we were empowered in that way. I credit my bosses, several of whom are already in the HOF for making that possible.
What professional achievement are you most proud of?
As chief credit officer of WCF we had four years with zero losses on a portfolio in excess of $20B. We had a fantastic group of people at WCF managing accounts all over the country. We had a fairly rigid system for monitoring and evaluating credits on an ongoing basis that we used to great advantage. We had a common culture that saw every team member focused on the same issues and we had really smart people. I had a team that I worked with every day that oversaw all of this. Together, we created this result and it is probably the single achievement I am most proud of. I would add that my boss, after commending me for no losses immediately followed that with the comment that I was not taking enough risk and that we undoubtedly left something on the table. You can’t win.
What role did SFNet, its events and connections play in your career development?
I have been involved with SFNet for more than 30 years. I attended classes that helped me learn and advance, then I taught classes which was super rewarding, and I have encouraged many of the people that I worked with to also attend classes. The learning opportunities are boundless. I have met hundreds of people at Conferences and other events over the years. That ever-expanding network has served me very well over the years including getting assignments as MSF Associates, as well as getting the opportunity to start that first ABL shop in 2013. That all came about as a result of conversations with people I knew through SFNet. Those connections continue to serve me well in my present capacity with PKF Clear Thinking as my job is to get out and get in front of people. I have had many occasions to call one friend from the industry to ask if he/she would introduce me to someone else that I didn’t know. I have never had anyone say no to a request for help. I consider that the ultimate benefit of a large network of colleagues. I would also add that when establishing those small ABL shops we often had to convince people with limited knowledge of ABL that it was a great space to lend into. The data from SFNet regarding size, defaults, charge-offs and reserves was invaluable. They were and are a great resource. Finally, I have had the privilege of serving on several committees for SFNet including the Advocacy Committee and the Membership Committee. This has provided an opportunity to get to know and work along side of some really great folks and do some really good work. I would encourage anyone who is interested to volunteer.
What advice would you offer to someone just starting out in the industry?
I’ll make this quick – work hard. Really hard. All of your peers and colleagues are smart, find a way to stand out. Ask questions of everyone including senior officers. Volunteer for stretch assignments to broaden your scope. Listen carefully. Take courses when offered.