It's a gorgeous summer day in the City by the Bay, and today I have the great pleasure of sitting down for our third interview in the #GetToKnow series with Brendan "BK" Keane, Dividend's Capital Markets Strategist. BK has a knack for putting a smile on anyone's face and looking across the table at his ear to ear grin, I'm excited to see how this enthusiastic interview will go .
Q: BK, I'm pumped to have you on the Dividend #GetToKnow series! To get started, can you please introduce yourself?
A: Alex, as you are well aware, my name is Brendan Keane, but most of the team calls me BK. It's truly my pleasure to work alongside you and our DF (Dividend Finance) colleagues in my role within Capital Markets. I've been with DF since early 2017 after a long career on Wall Street and have had a variety of positions as a credit ratings analyst, corporate attorney and as an investment banker. I'm the father of two 20+ year old boys and have been married for over 25 years (to my wife, not Wall Street).
Q: For those readers who may not be versed in Capital Markets, can you give us a quick overview of what that refers too?
A: It is essentially helping DF "leverage up the credit curve." That means exploring and analyzing effective ways to fund Dividend's business with the basic goal of obtaining lower cost financing from large banks and institutional investors, so our Company can make more loans, expand our business and realize on our mission.
Q: Thanks for the clarification, we'll get back into the Capital Markets here in a minute, but I always like to ask -- How did you end up here at Dividend?
A: My prior "Street" experience has introduced me to a number of people in finance. While DF was integrating in 2016 with LL Funds and Figtree, I was introduced to both Raj Mundy (DF Executive Chairman) and Eric White (DF CEO). Actually, there were three separate introductions from a lawyer, a data advisor and an investment banker, though that sounds like the beginning of a "…they walk into a bar..." joke.
Q: Sounds like you are quite the Networker.
A: As big as the finance world is, it remains a small community and relationships truly matter, just as they do with our installer partners. My first day on the job last February was a meeting with Credit Suisse in San Diego—probably not a coincidence, but the bankers on that team were people I had not only worked with for over 10 years, but in one case had hired out of college.
Q: That's pretty cool to hear. So back to your role here at Dividend, can you give us a glimpse into a Day in the Life of Capital Markets Strategist?
A: I would categorize it under one word: "Strategery". I work closely with key members of both our internal teams as well as our external financing partners. For example, I spend a lot of time meeting and talking with our bankers like Credit Suisse or Citibank to negotiate terms of credit facilities, analyzing financial projections and reviewing legal documents. I also have to coordinate with people like Raj, Mike Churchill (DF CFO) and Matt Mancuso, who works alongside me in Capital Markets. Fortunately, there is no "typical" day as I split time among San Francisco, San Diego, Philadelphia, New York City and New Jersey (where I call home).
I love helping build Dividend's brand and business and I think I am fairly adept at also cultivating partnerships—like I said before, the finance business is still rooted in relationships and that is one aspect of my job that I truly love, and it's made all the easier by doing it on behalf of our Company.
Q: Very interesting. Okay, I have a two-part question for you - Since coming on-board with Dividend, what has been the most unique project you've worked? And, what made it so unique?
A: Dividend's first securitization in October 2017 was a labor of, well, I guess you could call it love. We brought to market our first capital markets deal last year when we issued $125+ million of securities backed by DF solar loans. It was a great transaction for the Company, and enabled me to utilize all of my legal, rating agency and investment banking experience. More importantly, it introduced me to nearly every aspect of Dividend where I learned what a truly energetic and great team we have here.
Q: I agree that was a monumental step for Dividend. So, you've just returned from a few weeks exploring our neighboring country to the north. How was it?
A: Oh, I guess you heard about that...It was amazing, but for the record I didn't flee the country so much as take a vacation with my two boys and their cousin (each in their early 20's) on a "Northwest Passage" trip to Seattle, Vancouver, Whistler and Banff. While they may have out-hiked and out-rafted me, I was able to take them in golf…we played some really spectacular courses and I was lucky to hold off the young guns and take each of them for $25 [chuckles]. My nephew, he's pretty sharp (yes, he goes to Tulane like Eric did), and tried to pay up in Canadian $$, not US $$. I think he has a promising future on Wall Street.
Q: Sounds awesome! You and I will have to hit the links sometime soon. Do you have other travel recommendations for our readers?
A: We did a family trip a few years ago to the Southwest and I absolutely fell in love with the national parks in Arizona, New Mexico and up into Utah, but my heart is in the southwest of Ireland—especially Kinsale, which many consider the food capital of the Emerald Isle. Ask Niall Murphy, our CTO, he will confirm that it's true and not the beginning of a second joke. Also, I would add St. Petersburg to the list - Russia, not Florida. My wife and I were blessed to have adopted our sons from there when they were very young—not only an amazing experience, but a city that I would love to have us all return to.
Q: Bucket list items: We ask every interviewee for 3 of their bucket list items.
A: These will sound pretty 'blah' but here goes…
1. Backpack through Europe, I never did that after college.
2. Play a round of golf with any of David Feherty, Nick Faldo or Jack Nicklaus. Feherty might kill me with laughter, and I'd love to just watch Faldo and Nicklaus swing a club and hear their stories.
3. Obtain my pilot's license. I fly a lot, but I'm afraid of heights and would love to conquer that.
BK's Closing Thoughts
Having worked in a variety of roles for nearly 30 years and through a number of ups and downs in the market, I am always guided by the "you never know" principle, meaning it is paramount to take the long and true view on things because, well, you never know. Be fair and reasonable with counterparties on both sides of the table because odds are you will work with them again in the future. Take the 'high road' on business decisions, because you never know what situations may arise and you will want to look back and be able to say you took the right course of action.