Archive for the ‘Finance’ Category

Ask the VC

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

I get asked a loteven by experienced executiveshow much equity they should expect when negotiating to work for private companies. That’s all over the map and really depends on the company, the position, etc., but here’s a blog that tackles that subject and more: Ask the VC. It’s written by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson, who are with Mobius Venture Capital and The Foundry Group.

This blog is worth checking out if you’re a small company planning to seek venture investment or even an entrepreneur trying to build a better private company. I like blogs with a lot of meat and little fat…and this is one of them.

Here’s one of those odd little twists that happen in life. Brad was the CTO of a company called AmeriData Technologies that was later acquired by General Electric. When I practiced law, I represented a venture firm that invested in AmeriData. I met the two founders of that company, but don’t recall meeting Brad.

An Overview of Credit Basics

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Many people have little understanding of the fundamentals of using credit, even those who have good credit. If a basic finance course was mandatory in high school, American consumers would save billions of dollars by better managing their credit. That course is not mandatory, but I have written an article that will appear in First Time Homebuyer Magazine. Entitled An Overview of Credit Basics, it answers the following questions:

  • What is a credit report and how does it affect your loan?
  • What are credit scores?
  • How does ordering a credit report affect my score?
  • How can I establish credit?
  • How can I maintain my good credit?
  • How can I repair or improve my credit?
  • How can I correct errors in my credit report?

Working in a Regulated Industry – Dos and Don’ts

Monday, January 7th, 2008

The average company in the mortgage brokerage world is just a mom and pop business with a few people. Regulation is one reason that the industry is highly fragmented. Residential mortgage lending and brokerage is highly regulated in the United States by the federal government and by each state agency. As the President of a mortgage brokerage, one of the primary obstacles to our growth is complying with ever-changing regulations.

So how do you keep up with regulations and make sure you stay in compliance? First, join the relevant trade organizations, so you can keep up with changes. For example, in Massachusetts, I’m a member of both the National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB) and the Massachusetts Mortgage Association (MMA). They keep me in the loop of both proposed changes and those that actually occur.

Second, make sure your required forms and disclosures are up-to-date and accurate. Again, belonging to national and state trade organizations helps on this count.

Third, invest in your employees. Make sure they are educated on both the relevant law and regulation and also on when and how to complete required forms and disclosures. Having educated employees also makes them better at their jobs, and customers are better served. Your company will do better because many competitors don’t bother to invest in their employees.

Fourth, audit employees’ work both during and after a transaction occurs. For example, during a mortgage transaction, when a mortgage consultant (salesperson) transmits a file to the processing center, the processor makes sure that the forms and disclosures are completed correctly. If a disclosure needs updating during the transaction as a result of a change in program or rate, then the consultant or processor, depending on the type of disclosure, is required to make it. When a transaction is completed, senior managers review files to make sure they comply with the law. If there is an document that should be completed differently, then it is reviewed with the employee. In other words, there is constant training as a result of this audit.

Fifth, make sure all of your files are in order. In our case, this not only means completed or withdrawn mortgage transaction files, but all other files we are required to keep by law. These include financial books and records and advertising (In Massachusetts, for example, one must keep all mortgage advertsing, even intangible items like radio scripts, for three years.).

What’s the result of doing all of the above? Regulators may schedule reviews or pop in unannounced. It shouldn’t matter. If your files and records are in order and completed properly, you’ll come across as a professional. The regulators will realize they’re dealing with pros, an above-average company in the industry. They may spend less time during the review and you’ll come out shining. I know, because we’ve received the highest rating during all of our compliance reviews to date.

I’ve discussed the dos of working in a regulated industry. What are the dont’s? They’re exactly the opposite of the above. Ignore the basics and you’ll end up with heavy fines, bad publicity and perhaps, even being shut down.