EuroCatalyst 2007 celebrations kicked off on Thursday evening atop the majestic ME Reina Victoria Hotel in Madrid with a cocktail party – graciously sponsored by Marc Bajer, managing director of Assured Guaranty in Europe – and the EuroCatalyst 2007 Awards presentation, our acknowledgment of individuals and companies whose efforts we strongly believe make a difference in the future direction and vision of Europe’s mortgage markets.
There were two winners in the content category this year. Both parties really should have received the award at the first EuroCatalyst event in 2002.
FITCHRATINGS: For its team-oriented atmosphere, its neutrality and accessibility, and for its consistency, quality, continuity, and innovative approach that goes beyond simply just ratings, we presented the 2007 EuroCatalyst Award for Content to Fitch Ratings.
Just as EuroCatalyst prides itself on providing the most outstanding content within research, events, and reports, we feel that there are others in the industry that do the same. As Benjamin Disraeli once said, “As a general rule the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information,” it is knowing where to look, what questions to ask and to whom those questions should be directed. It is also understanding the audience for whom that research – or content – is intended and their requirements.
For five years Fitch has contributed strong corporate support to the EuroCatalyst event. When we’re putting together the EuroCatalyst event programme, for every paragraph that is written, we spend at least 100 hours reading through news articles, academic journals, financial reports, investment bank reports and rating agency research. Fitch has always provided us access to their vast archive of research, which in turn gives us the tools to produce excellent content. And Fitch and its analysts have continually been the most accessible of all information providers.
While Fitch researchers and analysts excel at content, they also show strength at placing a story in the appropriate context. Their focus on how markets function has mirrored a key elements of our events and the discussions surrounding it. And their focus on risk rather than on ratings sets them apart from all the rest. Fitch has proved to be the best at getting down to the granularity and details of how markets function.
Although this is not a sponsored award, we would like to express our sincerest gratitude to Fitch Ratings for jumping in and sticking with us from the very beginning. [TOP]
ACHIM DÜBEL:He’s more than a consultant. He’s more than an economist. He’s more than a financial sector specialist. He’s been at the heart of European discussions and dialogue at all levels, from consumer advocacy to corporate to regulatory, concerning the mortgage and housing finance industry for the last two decades.
He has worked on numerous occasions for or with, or in some cases, both, the World Bank, the EU Commission, the Russians, the Germans, the South Africans, the Koreans, the United Nations, the Slovenians, the Turks, the IFC, the VdH, and Mercer Oliver Wyman, among others. His range of interests and expertise spans all continents, except for perhaps Australia. His research has served as the foundation for many a celebrated reports, focusing on housing finance systems, distribution, mortgage risk, rental markets and EU integration.
His enthusiasm, vigour and understanding of how it all works has turned him into the go-to person across the globe for anyone who really wants to understand mortgage markets. However, he’s typically behind the scenes. We’d like to bring him forward, place him on a pedestal (but believe he may not agree with this move.)
For all of that, as well as his support of our efforts since 2002, we presented the 2007 EuroCatalyst Award for Content to Achim Dübel. [TOP]
The EuroCatalyst 2007 Award for Context went to an entrepreneur whose phenomenal success spans two continents. His clear, calculated and methodical planning laid the groundwork for building his business into a multimillion-pound success in the specialist lending world in less than 10 years.
He started with Future Homeloans in the UK in 1996, which he sold to Citi five years later, and then ventured off to Australia, where he created and transformed Pepper Homeloans into the third-largest specialist lender Down Under. Back on UK shores, he set up Oakwood Homeloans, One World Leasing and Blue Motor Finance, before travelling to Southern Europe, where he acquired first a bit and then all of Ktesios, a salary secured personal loans company in Italy.
Our context is global. And so is his. His influence and track record make him one of the strongest cross-border players in the market today.
We’ve always said the most-overused word in this industry is innovation. The act of simply replicating a business model or making slight improvements and exaggerating them by marketing does not represent innovation. One of the things we’ve learned in the last five years watching this man is that “innovation is execution and execution is innovation.”
Once the subprime air clears, we expect to find not only a Europe dominated by balance sheet lenders but a Europe led by innovative, gifted entrepreneurs such as this man.
We presented the EuroCatalyst Context award to Mike Culhane for his innovation, vision and execution for building strong cross-border lenders and entrepreneurial spirit. [TOP]
The EuroCatalyst 2007 Communication Award was presented to an individual who really should have his own talk show. He’s not only a fantastic entertainer but also a prolific writer, speaker, historian, linguist, and, to top it all off, an aviation photographer. He’s been a huge part of both EuroCatalyst the event and EuroCatalyst the company, and identifies himself as a “living event risk”, which we find to be his most endearing quality.
He is the only person in the 5 years we have been doing this event to receive the same award twice. Based on this fact alone, he deserves great praise. He’s not only a diplomat for our events, but his work behind the scenes within the industry has been instrumental to the success of the European Covered Bond Council, a role for which he has unfortunately never been recognised. We presented this award to him again this year because we want people to understand the enormous success and influence this man has had throughout the industry. There is perhaps not one rock he has not left unturned. He is not only near to our hearts as a company but has been one of the most accessible people to all those working in Europe in this industry.
For all of these reasons, we presented Tim Skeet with the 2007 EuroCatalyst Award for Communication. [TOP]
EuroCatalyst was proud to present the 2007 Community Award to a man we believe should be credited with creating the community for covered bond investors. Although some may say he is a quiet man, preferring to build his community privately on the side, he has been a trailblazer, aggregating and educating the global investor base for the industry’s strongest, most-stable product.
If this man were to run for office one day, we would join his campaign. That’s how much we believe in him. He is someone whom we have always wanted to call a friend, and we do, but he is a complex and thoughtful person, and it has taken time for us to really get to know him. And like any leader, this man has never forced anyone to follow but naturally people have followed his lead. It is with this awareness that we were honoured to present Ted Lord with the 2007 EuroCatalyst Community Award – and for allowing us to take part in his community. [TOP]
The 2007 EuroCatalyst Award for Convergence was presented to an individual who has worked tirelessly to successfully bring about the convergence of commercial and residential lending and servicing. His experience, patience and perseverance also allowed him to gain a key passport to further success in Europe, a German bank.
Always a driving force in the industry, Ron Roark led the growth and development of his company in the United States starting in 1977, and in 1995, directed the expansion of its asset management business into Europe. His company was instrumental in developing two of the largest real estate transactions in Sweden, providing financial advisory and asset management service to buyers together with local partners. He has also built up stable mortgage management operations in Europe, and has expanded the concept of master servicing at the pan-European level. He is a past board member of the Commercial Mortgage Securities Association and is also active in other industry groups, including the Urban Land Institute and the Mortgage Banker's Association (MBA).
We presented the 2007 EuroCatalyst Convergence Award to Ron for his dedication to the convergence of the residential and commercial lending and servicing sectors of the industry and his dedication to mentoring young up-and-coming entrepreneurs, including ourselves.