Get to know First California Mortgage’s David Heier, winner of a North Bay Business Journal CFO award.
What do you see as the essential role of a financial leader in the current environment?
Today’s financial leaders face a complex and challenging business environment that requires tremendous business savvy. In this environment, innovation is an essential driver of excellence and we must play a leading role in accelerating strategic growth across the enterprise; we must be a catalyst agent of change to create competitive advantages.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in your industry?
The biggest changes occurring in the mortgage banking industry relate to increased merger and acquisition activity with stronger competition and ultimately margin compression. As the costs to originate continue to rise it is ever so important to improve efficiencies in the production cycle.
Tell us about the particular challenges and opportunities your organization has met in the recent past?
The challenge of surviving the housing market crisis was a significant one; there are many players that did not make that turn. We were able to navigate by maintaining our strong ethical roots to remain committed to our borrowers and bring prosperity to all involved in the process. There is a great opportunity for growth in recent years and in the near future; we have continued to push forward on that front as the independent mortgage bankers are gaining market share from the big banks.
What advice would you give to young emerging financial leaders?
Be willing to take risks but be more willing to be the discerning voice when necessary.
What’s the best advice for weathering today’s economic environment?
Cash is king. This hasn’t changed, and you still must make more than you spend.
How do you think your business will change in the next five years?
The mortgage industry is ever changing; we expect there to be continued improvements in technology to enhance the customer experience but also changes in technology that impact the ultimate delivery of the mortgage to the GSEs.
What is your most memorable business experience?
My most memorable business experience was working with a client for many years at the downturn of the recession. They were a family business and being a part of helping them rebuild and grow to be even stronger than they were before was a powerful experience.
What is your greatest business success?
I would say my greatest business success was making the transition from public accounting to my current role as a CFO of a mortgage bank. With no previous banking experience it was quick education into the world or margins and basis points; however, being able to solidify the reporting structure and related internal controls while learning the business was an exciting process.
What was your toughest business decision?
My toughest business decision was to reverse course on a previously implemented expansion plan.
What would your friends be surprised to find out about you?
My friends would be surprised that as conservative as I am with regards to the financial markets I am a staunch liberal when it comes to politics.
MOST ADMIRED BUSINESSPERSON OUTSIDE THE COMPANY
Being true to oneself is of the utmost importance. As Warren Buffet has stated, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently” I admire Buffet’s humble beginnings and self-made success as well as his dedication to integrity and altruistic acts.
David W. Heier
Executive vice president and chief financial officer
First California Mortgage Company
1400 N. McDowell Blvd., Ste. 300, Petaluma, CA 94954
Education: Certified Public Accountant, State of California. B.A., business administration with a concentration in accounting. B.A., business administration with a concentration in finance