One of First National’s points of distinction is experience. Many members of our team have been with us 10, 15, 20 and 25 years – and in a few cases since we began operations in 1988. We salute those committed individuals who are celebrating a milestone anniversary by presenting their stories in their own words. Today, we profile Daniel Pegoraro, Senior Analyst, Commercial Financing.
Daniel, congratulations on 10 years with First National. How did you get into commercial financing?
I went to Cornell University, graduated in 2006 with a commerce degree and then played pro hockey for four years, first in Louisiana and then in Italy, Norway and Sweden. That period included the financial crisis from 2008 so as much as I was having fun and enjoying the lifestyle of travelling and playing, I made the decision to call it a day and start my second career.
What position did you play?
Centre, so one of the smarter guys out there!
Why did you choose First National for your second career?
At the time, I had some exposure to the mortgage world and I had a sense of what First National did. When I dug deeper, I thought the story was terrific. I was attracted by the entrepreneurial reputation of the business. It was a smaller shop on the commercial side at the time but a significant player in the residential mortgage market. I originally thought I would end up working in a Bank but once I got here, I really loved the environment and got experience from the ground up.
What was your first job?
I started in residential customer service on the night shift answering borrower inquiries and did that for about 12 months. I applied to commercial administration and got another ground-floor opportunity to learn. That served as a springboard to join the commercial origination team with a plan to one day become an originator. I was eager to advance so I shadowed a couple of people on the origination side, asked them questions about their experiences and I really liked what they said and what they were doing. For the past eight years, I’ve been working with Jamie McCallum, who has been an instrumental leader in my career growth and a terrific mentor.
Working on the night shift couldn’t have been much fun.
I didn’t have much of a social life, but it really helped me to get where I am today. With any experience, you have to make the most of it and be open to learning. I made a point of volunteering to help on different projects and being my first job, I took those opportunities seriously and tried to understand the purpose behind what we were doing. I think my eagerness paid off and was certainly noticed by my peers and supervisors.
What was First National like when you joined?
On the commercial side, we were small but that changed dramatically with just absolutely phenomenal growth from about $2 billion in originations to over $7 billion last year. It’s been very exciting and a pretty quick 10 years for me. I find it almost shocking that I’ve worked on the same team for this long and can still accumulate new knowledge. It’s terrific. The experience here has taught me that if you listen, and work hard enough, you will learn something new every day.
What does your role entail?
A lot of direct interactions with our clients. We discuss opportunities and explore and address the needs that they have for their businesses. I try to give them insights that they don’t otherwise have, which means doing ongoing research and analysis. Our clients are smart people, so I have to be on top of market conditions and have informed perspectives to be of value.
What sort of research do you do?
We keep tabs on everything real estate, from sales data for markets across the country, lease rate information for various commercial properties, cap rates, changes in the construction industry, news and headlines in every markets and MORE. First National has access to just about everything imaginable to do with commercial real estate and capital markets. What’s important is interpreting the data and making it relevant to each client.
Sounds challenging. Is that what motivates you?
Yes, I’ve always had a thirst for knowledge but also getting feedback from clients. Not just good feedback but great feedback. We’re also motivated by helping clients overcome challenges, whether in small ways like helping to sort out CMHC paperwork or doing deals in turbulent times. This spring, we helped one client fund a $50 million deal in Alberta. Despite what’s happening with the economy and changing market conditions in real estate as a result of the pandemic on our hands, we made that happen seamlessly, with no hiccups.
What’s your daily workflow like?
In our business, we can be quiet on a Monday and then on Thursday have so much to do there’s almost no time to breathe. Being in the thick of getting things done is hugely rewarding. We try to plan every move in advance and understand every nuance of a deal to be prepared for whatever comes along. But even then, it’s absolutely necessary to be nimble and quick because not every deal is a slam dunk, there are always things to work through.
Do you celebrate your wins?
Absolutely. We do enjoy reaching our milestones and finding ways to balance work and life. In between deals, Jamie and I take the time to golf together or grab lunch and recognize achievements.
Sort of like your days playing hockey.
I was never the kind of player that was flamboyant when celebrating a goal. But if the team did well, that’s all that matters and that’s what it’s like at First National. It’s about the team.
It’s been an amazing 10 years. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m also excited about the future. If we can repeat the last 10 years, I’d be a happy guy.
If you’d like to join us in congratulating Daniel on his career milestone, you can reach him at Daniel.Pegoraro@firstnational.ca