9 months ago


“We got along

“We got along splendidly. A lot of them had garageband mentalities, working hard to do just that little bit more to impress the audience. They had amazing passion for work and family.” At that point in time, UK-based Bass PLC (Bass Ale) bought Holiday Inn brands and kept the financing arm that he eventually led (whilst Bass promptly moved the company to Atlanta in 1990.) Thus Wright moved to Atlanta with his then girlfriend and found that he loved Buckhead/Atlanta more than a committed relationship. In 1997, Wright was recruited to leave Holiday Inn to launch a new hotel financing unit for GMAC. He was recruited by one of the top finance managers at GM, who was a mentor then and is still today as well as a current Board Member. Now he could make loans to the entire hotel industry and not just Holiday Inn hotels. He would be starting from scratch and taking a fifty percent pay cut. But he had great upside potential as a Junior partner if the new venture was successful growing to $4 billion of assets. “And we were successful,” he stated. In 2005, GM found itself in financial trouble and Wright ended up selling his division at a profit, yet after a fantastic four year stint and roughly $2 billion of loans, the parent bank had problems of its own, ended up being closed and placed in receivership by the FDIC in 2009. Wright’s unit, though still highly profitable, was now owned by the FDIC and remained open and operational for the next two years. Wright found an entity that would buy his unit from the receivership for a premium when the parent company shuttered, however, “the FDIC was a tad bureaucratic, to say the least,” and could not get the FDIC to act fast enough on a stellar Wall Street proposal. Two years later, Blackstone bought the bulk of the unit’s assets for eighty-two cents on the dollar, which he says was still the highest value obtained by the FDIC for the bulk sale of assets in receivership. By 2011, Wright exited the receivership entity owned by the FDIC and formulated his next steps. The big decision that he had to make was whether or not to start all over again. He was very fortunate that his corporate insurance coverage was in force and available from his insurer. He never had a lender liability claim in all his years in business – but to keep his policies in effect he would have to pay the six figure premium out of pocket. “I knew without a doubt that our team was the best in our space” he said, “so it ended up being one of those hard decisions that was easy to make. I covered the premium, subsequent start-up costs and overhead out of my own pocket and got back to work sourcing recapitalization via the Private Equity Funding.”Wright closed the recap with a well-regarded private equity firm (Stone Point Capital) for funding the enterprise within forty-five days, initially utilizing $50 million of the overall commitment of $250 million and Access Point Financial was born. He rented office space for the team and bought furniture from the FDIC for ten cents on the dollar. “I told the landlord to leave our space ‘as is’. We were ready to go, and I had a great management team in place. My CFO, COO and the balance of the management team had been with me for over a dozen years, long enough to know they were passionate to keep moving forward as well.” “Our biggest milestone came when I was able to tell the team that we had broken even and then in the black making a profit of $100,000 for the month. We celebrated briefly and immediately got back to work,” Wright said. “The profits each month continued to mount, and in 2016 Access Pointearned record revenues. That’s why we had such a high ranking on the Inc. 500 magazine list I suppose.” In five years, the company has lent on 550 assets (with $3.5 billion in asset valuation) and has combined debt/equity of more than $1 billion. Access Point makes hotel loans that range from $250,000-$25 million. It makes bridge loans with capital improvements included. The company’s expertise makes the loans they originate quite liquid since they are so well respected in the financial market place. “One thing that I’m very proud of is that we recently produced the first hotel only asset backed security and is ’A’ rated by two agencies. We have a stable of well-regarded Investors who appreciate the quality, velocity and integrity of our product delivery and the fact we remain as principal in all executions.” APF issued “A” rated securities and increased its stable of bank leverage partners to include JP Morgan, Key Bank, East West Bank and several other world class banks.Due to their success, (which Wright always credits to his management team) banks are especially interested in APF because its loyal customer rapport of high net worth. Cross-selling financial products to such individuals is very important to banks today, so at least one path to a major liquidity event is clear for the company. When time came for the recap, Wright and his team first analysed a list of 100 investment banks, then narrowed it down to a list of 20 to meet in person. Early on, WCP seemed like a good fit. “They had already been doing some specialty lending,” said Wright, “and they made clear that they would take an autonomous approach to management. It also helped that they liked our innovative lending efforts.” The company will have a lending budget of more than $6 billion over the next three years. “This transaction provides a platform for us to grow in the future,” said Wright. “We may start doing SBA lending. We will also look at additional asset classes. However, whatever we do will stay within the confines of our current client universe – our hotel owning customers.” “Most important of all, we will continue to have a high touch client experience.” 18 EXECUTIVE PROFILES

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