Troubled Assets Creating Financial Services Jobs

Troubled Assets Creating Financial Services Jobs

If you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of financial services, real estate or appraisal professionals who lost a job during the subprime mortgage meltdown, you may be able to find a new job helping the federal government clean up the resulting mess.

The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), run by the Treasury Department, will create thousands of well-paying jobs, says Brendan Courtney, president of recruiter The Mergis Group in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which has developed a TARP and Government Bailout Talent Delivery Team.

“The jobs being created support the policies that TARP has created and will continue to create,” Courtney says. “The jobs are with firms that are either working with or through the government to assist in the workout of toxic assets.”

The list of toxic assets includes auto and home loans, credit-card receivables, commercial real estate loans, and other financial products that were packaged and securitized. To work out troubled assets, the government will need many different types of financial services professionals.

All-Hands Approach

The securities those assets ended up in are complex, so the unwinding process requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. “Despite computers and software making us more efficient, a person is going to have to touch each of the assets backing those financial products during the workout process,” Courtney says.

Besides workout specialists, the government agencies that regulate financial markets as well as the secondary market agencies such as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are hiring additional employees in anticipation of more regulations. “Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and the regulators are starting to hire, and all those agencies are sending requests for proposals out to contractors who are signing up contingent labor sources,” Courtney says.

In the private sector, companies that plan to bid at toxic-asset sales began hiring asset managers and loan workout folks in May 2009. “For example, Mergis is getting requests for real estate appraisers to evaluate properties,” Courtney says.

Among the jobs Courtney says TARP and related financial cleanup efforts will create demand for are:

  • Appraisers: They estimate real estate values. Those working in larger cities specialize in either residential or commercial properties; those in rural areas may do both.

  • Asset Managers: When a bank takes back a commercial real estate property, such as an office building, strip mall or apartment building, it needs an asset manager to manage that property until it sells. Asset managers also work for asset-management companies that subcontract with financial institutions that need to sell assets they’ve foreclosed upon.

  • Collectors: Collectors usually work in call centers, phoning customers and encouraging them to make debt payments.

  • Customer Service Representatives: They answer calls from borrowers who phone their lender to ask questions about their mortgage.

  • Distressed Real Estate Analyst/Associates: Analysts who make assets perform to their highest potential, they work with distressed assets, such as a non- or low-performing company, loan or portfolio.

  • Legal Professionals: All those assets changing hands and being managed create work for lawyers, paralegals and file clerks.

  • Loan Workout Officers: These people work with borrowers who aren’t making loan payments and help borrowers refinance the debt or sell the asset to repay the loan. Workout experts dealing with consumer loans work in call centers. Those doing corporate or commercial real estate loans typically work for an asset-management company or bank.

  • Processors and Closers: They handle the paperwork on mortgages, create loan closing documents and ship closed loan paperwork to investors and servicers.

  • Property and Preservation Workers: These workers clean up, board up and check up on foreclosed properties held by lenders. This is an entry-level job in the loss-mitigation niche of financial services for those without college degrees.

  • Restructuring Investment Bankers: They work with loans packaged into securities, doing tasks such as identifying which assets are likely to perform well or estimating the value of loan packages for sale. Restructuring experts help firms pick the best deals at asset sales.

  • Special Servicing Specialists: These specialists work for companies that buy the right to service loans and to take a fee for collecting borrowers’ payments, handling tax payments, verifying insurance coverage and passing along payments to investors. When a commercial property is involved, a special assets officer handles this job.

  • Turnaround Management and Restructuring Consultants: They work for consulting firms and go in as a third party to help companies restructure debt. Some represent lenders, whereas others represent borrowers who need to negotiate with lenders.
If you’re considering making a move to a TARP-related job, remember that financial services employment is cyclical. While the next few years will be busy ones, during slow periods, it can be difficult to make a living.

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