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2021 Inductee, Fleet Bank
Robert Weisberg started his banking career in 1966 at the age of 19 as a credit trainee in Bank of Boston’s factoring division. Within 12 years he became its youngest vice president and head of the national retail factoring group. In 1981 the bank asked him to move his family to Montreal and consolidate three of Canada’s largest banks’ commercial finance and factoring companies that Bank of Boston acquired. In his role as president of the Montreal company and executive vice president of the parent bank, the operation became the number one Canadian finance company within three years.
After 18 years, Weisberg was recruited by Fleet Bank to become president of Fleet Credit, which included a leasing company as well as a commercial lending operation. After 10 years this entity grew to be over $2.4 billion through acquisitions and internal growth. After Fleet, Weisberg started one of the first healthcare finance companies, which was sold to a NYSE company. Later, he formed a specialized asset-based lender with his lifelong friend and mentor, Alan Cohen. Before Weisberg retired in 2016, he had made numerous investments in operating business as such as casinos, marinas, real estate, cruise ships as well as parking lots along the East Coast.
Weisberg not only has served as chairman and president of SFNet, but also on boards of numerous public companies and mutual funds. He also was twice elected in Marin County, CA as chairman of the local school board. He also was a board member for The Miriam Hospital and Marin Health Foundation. On the education front, Weisberg was an advisory board member of Northeastern University as well as Nova Southeastern University. Weisberg is a graduate of Northeastern University as well as the executive credit management program at Harvard. For over 25 years The Robert Weisberg Endowment has awarded scholarships to students at Northeastern who are in financial need.
What advice would you offer to someone just starting out in the industry?
My advice to someone starting out is start learning and absorbing every bit of wisdom from experienced and successful mentors. Make sure you truly understand all aspects of our secured lending world — take the fundamental courses such as auditing, collateral management, legal issues, operations, etc.
Ask a lot of questions and try to find mentors who are successful and are willing to teach and pass along their experiences good and bad. Always remember to be a team player and be a person who has a positive attitude. Respect your co-workers and never stop learning and asking questions.
Remember, there is a lot of fraud in this business, so always remember what President Reagan said when discussing nuclear issues with the Russians, “Trust, but verify.”
What are some of the most memorable moments of your career?
My fondest memories are of the relationships made with fellow SFNet members, service providers and law firms. It was an honor to be selected for the SFNet Management Committee and then serve as president and chairman.
As I reflect back on the organization’s history, several of us fought hard to promote women, not only to the Executive Committee, but to become Officers. We have come a long way in gender equality and the Association should be proud.
What role did SFNet play in your career development?
I was in my early thirties when I joined SFNet and was quickly nominated to the Executive Committee. It gave me the opportunity to develop several lifelong relationships with key industry leaders who took me under their wings and became mentors as well. I couldn’t have asked for better friends. We met at the Annual Convention and Mid-Year Meeting as well as our Washington political lobbying affair. All of us were active in the early stages of the Education Foundation and helped to also expand our chapter growth. My dear friends included Walter Einhorn, Frank Medeiros, Bron Hafner, Tony Yasiello and Bob Miller, all of whom have passed on and will always be in my heart and remembered fondly. I also learned a lot from our first Foundation fundraising chairman, Jack Butler, who was also our associate counsel. Jack initiated fundraising from our service partners and raised millions of dollars to give our Education Foundation its initial capital for its programs. Through my membership in the SFNet, I was able to contact lawyers with expertise in all 50 states and develop participation/syndication relationships with diverse lenders across the country.
Upcoming SFNet Education Classes
- Business Development Level One
- Loan Documentation
- Portfolio Management Level Two
- On Demand classes: Appraisals, Factoring, Legal, Workout & Bankruptcy