“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.” -John Foster Dulles
You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great
When Anchor Loans was founded back in 1998, my partners and I were just three real estate entrepreneurs with the idea of offering quick bridge financing to fix-and-flip investors in Southern California—while providing high-yield trust deed investment opportunities to investors.
In the beginning, we operated out of a tiny spare bedroom office—but our goals were always much bigger than that little room. As we set our sights higher and higher, we moved our operations to an office in Santa Monica, Calif. and expanded our lending into a few additional states—establishing Anchor Loans as a reliable private lender and investment partner focused on providing an exceptional customer experience.
Anticipating disaster before it strikes
In 2006, while many of our competitors maintained high loan production levels (despite shifting economic indicators), at Anchor, we anticipated the coming downturn and strategically scaled back lending. At the same time, we eliminated mortgage pool fees and returned capital to our investors. When the downturn hit in 2008-9, Anchor Loans remained profitable, retained 100% of our staff and not one of our investors lost money—while many lenders and their investors suffered catastrophic losses
Finding creative solutions to potentially devastating problems
Due to the downturn, we did experience a sudden surge in loan defaults, and, faced with several dozen REOs to liquidate, we established an in-house construction department to improve and sell the REOS ourselves—which turned out to be an excellent decision. Not only did our new construction department provide a profitable resolution strategy for the REOs, but we also built our internal capacity to provide our borrowers with expert firsthand advice about all aspects of the renovation and resale of their flips.
First things first
As the economy rebounded, in 2012, we set the goal of growing Anchor into a nationwide industry leader. However, before expanding operations, we assembled a team of real estate and IT experts to develop a custom , state-of-the-art AI technology platform. Anchor’s proprietary technology platform is now integral to all aspects of our business and allows us to fund loans in as few as 3-5 business days—even faster for rush deals. This decision to invest in IT infrastructure was critical to our ability to handle the rapid growth that was coming.
Becoming number one
Within the next five years, not only had Anchor expanded into 46 states and D.C., we became the industry’s number one fix-and-flip lender and the first to fund over $1billion in a calendar year. Anchor has remained an industry leader with over $1.1 billion funded in 2017 and over $1.4 billion in 2018. Our life-to-date fundings surpass $7.7 billion.
When growing too fast is a good problem to have
With our rapid expansion, we foresaw a significant roadblock to our high-speed growth curve. Although our lending platform and fintech were second-to-none, for internal accounting we were still relying on an entry-level combination of QuickBooks and Excel that could not scale as revenue and complexity increased. Our CFO sought a financial management solution to handle our growth, and found it in Sage Intacct, a cloud accounting software that saves our accounting team 40 hours per month and easily integrates management and financial reports across our 46 business entities. (Curious how this was done? Check out the Anchor Loans case study at sageintacct.com.)
In both 2018 and 2019 Anchor Loans landed in the top 1000 on the prestigious Inc. 5000 list, which recognizes the achievements of successful U.S. entrepreneurs whose companies are achieving rapid growth. Also in 2018 The Los Angeles Business Journal named Anchor Loans #5 of the 100 fastest growing companies in Los Angeles County.
Customer experience is key
Today, over 80% of our customers are repeat borrowers who know they can depend on our speed, efficiency, expertise and flexibility to help them succeed. Over 70% of our new borrowers were referred by an existing customer, which confirms what we have always believed—that providing the best possible customer experience is the key to success.
Our 2020 focus on "why"
Entering this new decade, as we celebrate our continued growth, we commit to also celebrate our "why." That is, not just what we do, and how successful we are at doing it, but why we do it.
Our "why" is: Creating opportunities for success by improving homes and communities.
What is your "why?" Let us know in the comments below.