Interview with SFNet’s New President Barry Bobrow

November 30, 2023

By Michele Ocejo

Barry Bobrow
Barry Bobrow is a managing director and head of credit markets for Regions Business Capital. He is a widely respected leader in middle-market leveraged finance and asset-based lending. He has spent the past 38 years working in banking, most of it as a debt capital markets professional, primarily in leveraged lending and supply chain finance. Bobrow has managed highly successful loan syndication teams at several large banks, including Wells Fargo and Bank of America. He has been deeply involved in the asset-based lending market for many years. He is also a past board member of the Loan Syndications and Trading Association (LSTA).

Bobrow is the creator and chairman of the Asset Based Capital Conference (ABCC), an SFNet sponsored conference focusing on the middle-market leveraged and asset-based markets, now in its 16th year. He is also the creator and host of the “SFNet Presents In the Know” podcast. In 2021 Bobrow was inducted into the SFNet Hall of Fame.

In 2017 he was honored as Humanitarian of the Year by National Jewish Health’s annual Financial Industries Dinner, an event annually sponsored by major players in the asset-based industry. Here, Bobrow discusses his career trajectory, his outlook for the industry and his goals for SFNet in 2024. 

Please provide our readers with some background about your career.
After graduating in 1985 with an MBA from the University of Michigan, I started my banking career with Continental Illinois in Chicago - a long time ago but seems like yesterday.

I started out in commercial banking, but quickly moved to asset-based lending following the advice an early mentor gave me, “The people I want working on my most important transactions are those that are smart enough to figure out where the deals are getting done and clever enough to get there.” There are many different types of banking careers, but for me asset-based lending was, and still is, a place where I believe I can work on transactions that are challenging and important.

My involvement in loan syndication started in the late 1980s when my manager asked me to find a way to better manage our balance sheet. Our borrowers’ needs were growing through industry consolidation and the emergence of the private equity market, and we needed to come up with credit facilities larger than what we could hold by ourselves. There was very little syndication of asset-based loans at that time, so this provided me the opportunity to build a unique skill set. What makes asset-based loan syndication different from other types of loan syndication is the need to thoroughly understand how asset-based lending works and to have a strong understanding of how the loans can fit into the broader capital markets. That small decision I made long ago to develop a unique expertise wound up having a great impact on my career.

I’ve had a number of roles in asset-based lending and debt capital markets, but for the past 25 years I have headed up syndication teams that were responsible for all the asset-based syndication at Bank of America and, beginning in 2006, at Wells Fargo. Through these roles I’ve built an amazing network of friends across the debt markets and developed a unique perspective on the growth and development of the asset-based lending industry, capabilities I bring to my current role.

I joined Regions Business Capital in 2022 as its head of Credit Markets, where I am helping Regions grow its asset-based business and integrate it more closely with other parts of Regions Bank. This allows us to provide more value to customers while raising the profile and enhancing the profitability of the business.

You’ve had a successful career in an industry that requires collaboration, whether it be with other lenders, your clients, team members, service partners, etc. Any secrets to fostering strong partnerships and working together successfully?

There is no secret to the fact that forming connections and growing relationships are essential to success in any career. Important relationships must start with trust and a sense of mutual appreciation for the skills and abilities of colleagues. For me, the keys to building strong relationships are honesty and integrity. It’s also crucial to show empathy for others and try to understand their perspective. People can always disagree with your view, but it’s critically important that they trust you. Deals come and go, as do specific jobs, but strong relationships last a lifetime and can help you at all stages of your career. 

Each time I meet someone I like and respect, I try to establish a relationship that is more than just transactional, and to maintain contact with them over time. That applies to people at every level of experience and in every function. I believe you can never have too many positive relationships, and you never know when those connections will come in handy.

What motivated you to get involved in SFNet and how has it affected you both professionally and personally?
Early in my career, I began attending SFNet events to meet more people in the industry. As I took on more senior role professionally, and particularly because of the roles I played in loan syndication, it became even more important to be present at the big national events, both to learn important industry information and to build upon my personal network. I began participating in panel discussions and helping plan industry events to get to know people better and learn. Ultimately, that led me to create the SFNet Asset-Based Capital Conference in 2008, which has grown to become one of the signature events on the SFNet calendar. 

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About the Author

Michele Ocejo
Michele Ocejo is SFNet director of communications and editor-in-chief of The Secured Lender.