December 7, 2021

By Michele Ocejo


PeterYork_2021

Peter York is managing director and head of the Asset Based Lending (ABL) practice for the Corporate & Investment Bank of J.P. Morgan. He has been with J.P. Morgan for over 17 years and has more than 27 years of secured ABL experience. York’s strengths include large multibank syndicated financing, cross-border structuring, leveraged buyout finance, and bankruptcy and debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing.

York began his banking career as a field examiner and has held virtually every position within an ABL organization, with experience as an underwriter, portfolio and underwriting manager, syndications professional and business development officer. He began his career as a certified public accountant, working in this field for three years. York holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting from The Ohio State University, as well as Series 7, 63 and 24 securities licenses.

Please tell us about your career path and how you got your start in the industry.

I was recruited to work as a field examiner at Citibank after spending three years as a CPA in public accounting. While at Citibank, I focused on the fundamentals of secured lending and learned what a borrowing base was, but also performed quality of earnings credit analysis. The focus of the field exam team was more than just the borrowing base. We had a captive CPA firm within the bank with a lot of great people.

How did you progress from a field examiner to running a global structuring originations team?

Credit fundamentals are at the core of a great ABL practice. I am fortunate to have been at J.P. Morgan for almost 20 years now and am currently head of originations for asset-based lending for the Corporate & Investment Bank and the Commercial Bank’s Corporate Client Banking & Specialized Industries business. I still think of myself as a credit person, but I exercise my credit skill best from the client-facing side of the house. That means getting deep into diligence, credit terms and capital structuring. It helps to be naturally inquisitive and skeptical. Each step along the way in my career, from underwriting to portfolio management to loan syndications, I would try to learn why we did things or made certain decisions and then would challenge the reasons why. I also spent more time than I care to admit learning and understanding the ABL loan agreement. As a loan originator, I have benefited from the ramping integration of the asset-based loan into the broader debt capital markets and have seen a few LBO cycles and bankruptcy cycles. I’ve had great mentors and leaders who encouraged creativity through market leading transactions all while sticking to the basic ABL fundamentals.

What motivated you to get involved with SFNet and to become a volunteer leader?

A couple things stand out in my desire to get involved with the SFNet. First, is my family ethos, whereby I was taught to give to society rather than take from society. So, the industry has given a lot to me and I needed to give back to it to provide opportunity for others. The second is that I feel as an executive at an industry-leading institution, it is very important to be active and involved with the most important issues facing the industry. A strong industry association will serve to benefit industry participants by making them even stronger.

What are your main priorities and goals as SFNet president?

I’m focused on three primary areas for the upcoming year: 1) Extend the member value proposition; 2) Financial stability through this challenging COVID period; and 3) Expand the opportunity and reach for the next generation.

Rich Gumbrecht and the SFNet staff have been extremely focused on the member value proposition for the past four years. As a board member over these years, I’ve seen firsthand the improvement in advocacy, data, webinars, education and many other areas where the SFNet has stepped up its game to provide value to its members. This has been great work, but there is more to do.

The COVID era has created significant financial challenges for the SFNet as a result of postponed in-person conferences and reduced attendance. During the pre-COVID era, the SFNet derived more than 50% of its annual operating revenue from attendance at live events. This is no longer the case until we can get back to normal events. While steep cost cutting has been in order the past two years, member revenue is a clear focus to keep the SFNet financially sound.

I am also very passionate about the next generation and creating opportunities within the industry for any and all to succeed. The 40 Under 40 program and Young Professional (“YoPro”) focus has been a terrific way to highlight competency and meritocracy within our industry. Within J.P. Morgan and the industry more broadly, I am very encouraged about the YoPro talent we have and the opportunities available to them.

What lessons from the past year and a half do you think you will carry with you as we move forward?

Shared ideals with a strong culture build resilient teams. We are going to have a record issuance year in the syndicated ABL market, all while working remotely for the majority of the year. That’s incredible and demonstrates you can do more than you think you can. It forces me to think about reducing unproductive sources of friction. While we may travel less and work differently, I think we’ll be better at our jobs because we just proved it.

You’re an endurance athlete. Please tell us a bit about this aspect of your life and the effects it has had on your professional life.

I’ve had a lot of fun training and racing triathlons and marathons over the past 25+ years. There have been good years and periods of lackluster performance. Highlights have been qualifying and running the Boston Marathon a few times, as well as qualifying and racing at the triathlon world championships at varying distances.

I tend to perform better in more challenging and higher-pressure situations. I find a calm resolve to manage through pressure, which has been built and learned from years of competitive racing. It takes patience, discipline and hard work to aim at a race 12-18 months in the future. Through this process, you learn that no individual day or workout defines you, but rather fits into a much more significant plan. It also takes a lot of confidence that your work will pay off some day.

I built my banking career in a very similar way. I mastered all the aspects of the ABL loan process and put in the years of structuring to get into the most competitive arenas with an incredible platform at J.P. Morgan. Working in ABL feels like I’m racing at the world championships!


About the Author

Michele Ocejo

Michele Ocejo is editor-in-chief of The Secured Lender magazine and director of communications for the Secured Finance Network.

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