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CRE Finance World, Summer 2014

CRE Finance World Summer 2014 10 Past CREFC Leaders Reflect on Evolution and Growth of the Association LEONARD W. COTTON President, June 2007–June 2008 Vice Chairman, Centerline Capital (chair and CEO of predecessor firm ARCap) Retired 2009 “I was president of the organization from 2007 to 2008, but my first involvement was right after 9/11. It was the Commercial Mortgage Securities Association at the time, and we went to Congress to try and get terrorism insurance passed. Prior to that, we had done some lobbying with MBA and the Real Estate Roundtable, but that was when we became particularly active on Capitol Hill. “The official change from CMSA to CREFC came during my term. But there was a lot of thought and hard work by a lot of people that went into expanding the organization into CREFC, particularly Margie Custis. It was her vision and her strategic plan that formed the basis of what we are today. CMSA had focused primarily on securitized mortgage products, but no other organization was focused on the needs of the commercial real estate finance world— the originators, servicers and practitioners. Our vision was to become the voice of the commercial real estate finance industry. “Given the economic times, my term was also, to say the least, an exciting time. My background is in finance and as a borrower, and the prevailing concept at the time seemed to be that you could sell anything so you could finance anything. That just didn’t make sense. Discipline was incredibly important to me and to the group I was involved in and we tried to bring discipline to CREFC. This is a mature business and a mature group of involved people. “The tone changed at that time due to the economic situation, and there were some very strenuous debates. But what was really interesting about the CREFC meetings was that everyone, some of them fierce competitors, left their business cards outside the room. I’ve never been involved in another organization that was so focused on the common good. People here rolled up their sleeves and tried to make the industry better, from servicing standards to best practices.” PAUL T. VANDERSLICE President, June 2012–June 2013 Managing Director, Citigroup Global Markets “The major accomplishments of my term were in three areas: regulatory, asking the industry participants to maintain discipline, and helping CREFC to create a reserve to guard it against future industry downturns. “On the regulatory front, we spent about a year arguing against the Fed’s PCCRA (premium capture reserve account) proposal, which was added to Dodd-Frank. It took a lot of firepower to fight it, but it would have been disruptive or even fatal to the CMBS market had it been implemented. “CMSA had focused primarily on securitized mortgage products, but no other organization was focused on the needs of the commercial real estate finance world— the originators, servicers and practitioners. Our vision was to become the voice of the commercial real estate finance industry.”


CRE Finance World, Summer 2014
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