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Interview with Gen Merritt-Parikh, Haversine Funding
By Michele Ocejo
Gen Merritt-Parikh is the president of Haversine Funding, a leading financing provider to specialty finance companies, including asset-based lenders, factors, purchase order, equipment and inventory lenders. With more than 25 years of experience in commercial finance, she joined Haversine Funding in August 2020, responsible for origination, underwriting, investment analysis and management and asset allocation strategy for Haversine Funding.
In 2018, as president of Allied Affiliated Funding, she led the company to a successful sale through a nationally chartered bank where she continued to manage that line of business for the bank. Merritt-Parikh holds a bachelor of arts degree in business and economics from the University of Texas at Dallas.
Please tell us about your career trajectory.
Merritt-Parikh: I’ve always been driven by a customer centric approach that is rooted in my passion to continuously learn, seek out challenges and achieve goals. I discovered that for me, it’s all about the people – from our customers to the relationships we’ve built along the way, including our mentors and connections. And I’ve found that the team you work with and how you treat people is a key predictor of success.
Over 25 years ago, I started from the ground up as a temp receptionist after making an early career change out of retail. It’s not like in the movie Legally Blonde, as I didn’t wake up one morning and say, “I think I’ll go into factoring,” especially since I’d never heard of it before. But, going to school and taking this position, part time to start, I hit the ground running quickly moving into underwriting (with which I was completely unfamiliar), acquisition due diligence and account management for the asset-based lending company we evolved into over time.
I later transitioned back into factoring with increasing roles and responsibilities as a credit officer for a small factoring shop, a factoring franchisee advisor for the U.S. franchisees that were starting up and building their businesses, and an operations officer for a mid-tier portfolio where I eventually became the president. All of that led me to Haversine Funding, where today we focus on financing specialty lenders, not the end clients, to help those lenders grow.
I believe in helping business owners succeed, and now with Haversine Funding, I still get to do that, but with my industry peers, colleagues, mentors and friends, all while continuing to learn and rise to new challenges. My goal has been to learn as much as I could from everyone around me. I’ve had the opportunity to develop deep relationships with the people I worked with and for, and those individuals have continued to help me along the way, and I would not have achieved as much without each one of them being part of that journey.
You recently became president of Haversine Funding….in the middle of a pandemic. Could you tell us a bit about the process and advice you might have for others who are interviewing in this virtual world?
Merritt-Parikh: That was something for sure. I met Stan Vukmer a few years ago, and we’d stayed in touch as Haversine Funding was formed and starting to grow. The idea of changing jobs in general was a foreign concept after being with my Allied Affiliated Funding team for over a decade, growing the group, and selling to a nationally chartered bank where we continued to focus on the future.
My trusted advisors, leadership group, attorney and close friends, however, relentlessly highlighted that I was saying no to something without knowing any details. Their feedback initially was, “Say yes until it’s time to say no,” which reminded me of the movie Roadhouse for some reason. Once I did take the time to listen and ask questions, do research, have a lot of Zoom calls, and walk through what the future would be if I stayed the course versus what it could be by making this leap, the opportunity was too great. So, yes, during the pandemic year of self-reflection and change, I thought, “Why not?” followed immediately by, “Let’s do this!”
You’re working remotely, as are so many of us now, in this new role. How do you ensure you are engaged with your team?
Merritt-Parikh: Communication is a definite strength for our team. We start each day with a daily Zoom huddle, we talk throughout the day on video calls and chat sessions. Our specialty finance initiative in Haversine Funding is a specialized, agile group, so real- time communication on our continued capital raising and deployment, marketing efforts, projects and new transactions is critical, especially with our accelerated growth.
What are your main goals in your new role, both short term and long term?
Merritt-Parikh: Our growth took a hockey stick increase in late 2019 and then leveled off through the first part of 2020. Since then, we’ve doubled our portfolio and remain focused on key initiatives and continued momentum. We anticipate the demand for our products to increase heading into next year with banks tightening credit for finance companies.
Currently, a lot of our focus is in transactional and portfolio participation facilities. We are adding and expanding our products to fill gaps for specialty lenders, including more lender finance and growth capital solutions. We’re also developing unique partnerships that help blend down financing costs to our lender clients over the long term to help them continue to grow and succeed.