With extensive experience in asset-backed and structured finance, Evan Wilkoff is a proven leader in developing profitable businesses and platforms. As Executive Vice President of Ascentium Capital LLC from 2010 to 2021, he was responsible for all capital markets and treasury activities. During his tenure, Evan designed and implemented a diversified funding strategy that included a robust asset-backed security issuance program, multiple credit facilities from money-center banks, and various syndication sources. Origination volume exceeded $2 billion in under five years and $8 billion in ten years.
Evan oversaw all aspects of Ascentium’s asset-backed securities issuance program, issuing $3.4 billion across 12 transactions, and oversaw portfolio sales totaling $1.4 billion to 57 purchasers, generating 5+% gains. He also set up and managed an offshore reinsurance company that generated significant net underwriting profits for Ascentium’s forced-placed insurance product.
Evan Wilkoff identified, recruited, and helped acquire, build, and integrate three successful business platforms: truck finance, a direct-to-end-user call center, and a micro-ticket point-of-sale equipment finance division. Before joining Ascentium, Evan tripled annual revenues of his division as the Director of Commercial Asset Finance at Wells Fargo Securities and managed bank relationships, negotiated senior warehouse lines, and developed a syndication strategy as Vice President and Treasurer of CoActiv Capital Partners, Inc., LLC.
As co-founder of Cavalier Funding, LLC, Evan built a small, full-service specialty finance company from scratch, developing a proprietary pricing model that maximized profits while minimizing risk. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering from The University of Virginia.
We recently had the opportunity to connect with Evan Wilkoff to learn a little more about his secrets to productivity and valuable lessons learned over the course of his financial services career.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive?
One of my most productive habits is my ability to quickly appreciate and understand complex situations to help make informed decisions. I believe this skill has been honed through years of experience and is essential in today’s fast-paced business environment, where time is often of the essence. By being able to analyze and synthesize information quickly, I can make decisions confidently and efficiently, which helps me stay on track and accomplish my goals. This habit has also helped me be proactive and anticipate potential challenges before they arise, which has been invaluable in my career.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Two market trends excite me, and I am passionate about both. The first trend is the recent wave of consolidation and acquisitions of specialty finance companies by banks. It has created a unique opportunity for independent financial companies with strong and experienced management teams to dominate the market. It is a challenging space, but I am confident that with my expertise and experience, I can identify and capitalize on new opportunities.
The second trend that excites me is the accelerating renewable energy space. It’s thrilling to see the growth in this sector, both from an environmental and economic perspective. The potential business opportunities in certain proven niches within this vast field are endless, and I am excited to be part of a team passionate about making a difference in the world while building a successful business.
What was your worst job, and what did you learn from it?
During my career, I had an experience working at a large investment bank where I found myself in a toxic work culture with weak leadership. Although I liked my role and responsibilities, the overall professional environment was not conducive to my growth and development. This was undoubtedly the worst job I have ever had, and it taught me a valuable lesson that has stuck with me throughout my career.
Through my observations of the dysfunction, backstabbing, and cronyism that existed within the work environment, I realized the importance of surrounding myself with a positive and supportive team. I learned that a healthy and productive work culture is essential for personal and professional growth and that avoiding toxic environments should always be a top priority. This experience has helped me prioritize company and leadership culture when evaluating new job opportunities and has guided me in building and leading high-performing teams with strong leadership.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
When I first began my career, I failed to recognize the broad range of opportunities available in corporate finance and did not initially prioritize this area of study. If given the chance to start over, I would place a higher priority on obtaining formal education in corporate finance, particularly in light of my interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. However, as I became more immersed in this field, I also came to understand the importance of a strong foundation in STEM subjects for a career in finance.
STEM subjects, including Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, are critical for many areas of the modern economy, including corporate finance. A solid background in mathematics is essential for financial analysis and modeling, while computer science and programming expertise are very valuable for developing financial algorithms and software. Additionally, engineering concepts can help in designing and implementing financial systems and processes, and scientific principles can aid in understanding complex financial systems and risk management.
By prioritizing formal education in corporate finance earlier in my career and combining it with my enthusiasm for STEM, I could have achieved even greater success and opened up a broader range of opportunities for myself. I now recognize the significant impact that STEM skills can have on success in corporate finance and highly recommend individuals interested in this field to pursue a strong foundation in these subjects.
Thank you to Evan Wilkoff for sharing some of his ideas and insights with our readers.
Global Banking & Finance Review
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