By Tim Houghten
Distress has a unique way of polishing success.
Much like the abrasive grain of sand that results in the development of magnificent, beautiful pearls, the trials and tribulations of the mortgage industry are now revealing their silver lining.
While the pain of foreclosures, an economy in rehab, and building a business in turbulent times shouldn’t be minimized, the tests we’ve been through are being turned into something positive by those that really care, and are willing to put in the effort.
Fuquan Bilal, founder of National Note Group, knows this better than most. While some media outlets have posed that distressed property is declining in America, as of February 2015 there were almost 5,000 banks holding over $150 billion in non-performing mortgage notes, $600 million of this pool are newly defaulting real estate loans. National Note Group has been working to not only help heal the economy, and offer investment opportunities to help individuals get ahead, but has been going to extreme lengths to turn distress into sustainable success for homeowners.
Recently, in an exclusive interview Fuquan Bilal provided some of the most transparent, and detailed insight behind the scenes of the mortgage note industry.
“THERE’S A HEARTBEAT IN EVERY HOME”
While some funds, firms and individual real estate investors have purely seen the financial struggles of American homeowners behind on their mortgage payments, or in foreclosure as an opportunity to seize more property and make a quick buck; National Note Group’s founder says his firm takes a very different approach.
Bilal says it is crucial not to forget that “there’s a heartbeat in every home,” and how “devastating” foreclosure is. NNG goes to great lengths not to foreclose, and to find winning, and sustainable solutions for both homeowners and investors. In fact, Bilal says out of hundreds of loans purchased in 3rd and 4th quarter of 2014, the firm had just six REOs on the books in first quarter of 2015.
Going beyond simply offering loan modifications to borrowers, National Note Group’s team has gone to great lengths to aid them in improving their finances so that they can hold onto their homes, and enjoy a brighter future. This has reportedly included “helping individuals leverage smarter spending and personal finance, without becoming miserable by switching to more affordable services like Netflix and Metro for phone and TV, assisting in job searches and arranging interviews for the unemployed, and even helping those with homes that are now too large to strategize renting rooms to students for extra income.”
Harnessing an Elite Level of Focus
So how does Bilal manage it? Clearly, consistently maintaining a clear level of focus, effectiveness, and creative strategic thinking that can deliver on the above without becoming burned out, and operating a multi-million dollar business that juggles hundreds and thousands of second mortgage loans, and provides double-digit returns to investor clients requires a lot more of a CEO.
Among his secrets to enhanced performance and success Bilal tells us his daily routine includes: “Starting each day with 24 minutes of meditation; one minute for every hour in the day,” as well as “daily exercise, and practicing time blocking.” The founder says turning these practices into regular habits just like brushing your teeth every morning makes all the difference in staying on track. It helps keep you refreshed and charged, though Bilal says it also helps when you are really passionate about what you are doing. In this expert’s case he says he doesn’t feel like he is really working at all, and often hops out of bed in the middle of the night with new ideas and strategies for helping homeowners.
However, the National Note Group executive says that he absolutely relies on having an amazing team for executing on all of the company’s objectives. Bilal describes his approach to leveraging top industry talent not only by offering good compensation, but by embracing “working with people smarter than me, treating them as partners, not employees, and giving them the authority, and creative liberty to be their best.”
When You’ve Got Warren Buffett Size Problems
When you are tackling a national challenge that dwarfs Warren Buffett’s wealth it requires a great system.
The distressed mortgage market is massive, and even when you are capable of raising millions rapidly like Berkshire Hathaway and National Note Group, you’ve got to be able to deploy capital fast, and efficiently in order to maximize investor returns, and the potential of your organization.
Bilal says that he tackled this challenge early to ensure scalability, speed, and efficiency by getting serious about Process Mapping. He explains that by “documenting processes the first time around, leveraging Microsoft Excel, and better managing data – the firm is able to hire and scale effectively, eliminate human error, and operate leaner and more profitably, with better margins than others.”
It is from this vantage point that Bilal says the firm is able to provide better service, financial strength and security, more investment and portfolio tracking tools, and advanced training through the NNG Academy.
For more information, please visit the firm’s new website, tools and trading desk at www.NationalNoteGroup.com .