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The Wrestler

Date: Jul 19, 2023 @ 07:00 AM
Filed Under: Industry Insights

The Wrestler is a 2008 sports drama film starring Mickey Rourke. Rourke plays an aging professional wrestler who, despite his failing health and waning fame, continues to wrestle in an attempt to cling to the success he achieved in his 1980s heyday. Flash forward to today where there is tremendous pressure on aging BDOs to continue to produce or get replaced by someone younger. Ironically, a similar pressure to produce applies to younger BDOs just starting to learn the proverbial ropes. This requirement to perform clearly applies to all professionals, but being a BDO is unique in the sense that at its core, it’s not a desk job. It’s also a job that takes its toll physically over time. Travel, networking, the fluid nature of understanding credit, the constant need to build a network over generations, while also doing deal work can be grueling. All jobs can be hard, but this job is more fluid than most.

There is an extra sense of pressure once your productivity starts to slow irrespective of being caused by economic factors. How many professions can still do the same job at say 55 or even 65 that they did when they were a lion at age 25 or 35. Just like sports, sometimes you must trade physicality for being a smart veteran, but always while management is watching. Businesses and sports are fundamentally human talent driven and business development is essential. It is hard for companies both large and small to recruit and train folks that can produce, and it can be a real balancing act to know when to promote the younger generation or let the veterans play.

ABL-industry recruiting challenges have helped further the careers of many a BDO. Just ask any national sales manager about the level of proven talent under age 30 and there does not appear to be a long list. That does not necessarily change the pressure on many of these Wrestlers who still want to be in the game, but it helps explain why many are still around. The reward for success in business is staying power. The challenge with staying power is that to stay relevant, you need to keep adding to your network. Having a strong network and of course credit fundamentals is essential, but the challenge is to keep building that network. Your network is your calling card and just like an oil well, it will eventually run dry if you don’t find new sources. Sure, some wells produce longer than others, but where BDOs run stale is when they lose the hustle to maintain or re-build their calling card. Refreshing top referrals sources is clearly the biggest hurdle. A good BDO has 5 to 6 “Aces” – referral sources that provide excellent leads every year.

Being able to replace an aging Ace with a new Ace is instrumental in continually finding and winning deals. To that end, the job movement as a BDO tends to happen when either a network is not kept in good shape, or the credit product has simply lost fit. Many of these Wrestlers still find opportunities given their legacy audience. Sales however, is the tip of the spear and not always easy to replace if the younger generation is not adept at understanding the nuances of a hyper-competitive market. Put a newbie in too early in a major metropolitan market against tenured competition and they will get eaten alive. On the flipside, the opposite is true in terms of knowing when it’s time for an aging BDO to transition to a management role, or frankly retire. The frustrating part is when the decision is made for you whether at the start or end of your career. The mental acuity of some of the more experienced BDOs, now 55 years old and older is incredible. Multiple cycles, multiple credit committees, multiple changes in product and risk provide unmatched perspective and intuition. Do you think for a second these folks can’t wrestle with the best of them? Think again.

The movie ends with Mickey Rourke’s final wrestling match. Rourke begins to feel chest pain due to a heart condition and becomes unsteady. His opponent begs him to initiate the pin and end the match, but he refuses. Instead, he climbs the top rope for his signature finishing move and with tears in his eyes and the crowds chanting, he leaps from the top rope. There continues to be talk of recruiting younger talent to pick up the mantle of the legendary BDOs, however many of these professionals are not ready to leave the ring. Many of these BDOs still belong in the ring with their fans and fellow Wrestlers who respect them.

The message to these Wrestlers is clear -- don’t stop wrestling. Your fans are watching you.

Charlie Perer
Co-Founder, Head of Originations | SG Credit Partners
Charlie Perer is the Co-Founder and Head of Originations of SG Credit Partners, Inc. (SGCP). In 2018, Perer and Marc Cole led the spin out of Super G Capital’s cash flow, technology, and special situations division to form SGCP.

Perer joined Super G Capital, LLC (Super G) in 2014 to start the cash flow lending division. While there, he established Super G as a market leader in lower middle-market second lien, built a deal team from ground up with national reach and generated approximately $250 million in originations.

Prior to Super G, he Co-Founded Intermix Capital Partners, LLC, an investment and advisory firm focused on providing capital to small-to-medium sized businesses. At Intermix, Perer spent significant time sourcing and executing transactions and building relationships within the branded consumer, specialty finance and business services industries. Perer began his career at Oppenheimer & Co. (acquired by CIBC World Markets) where he was a member of the Media Investment Banking Group. He graduated Cum Laude from Tulane University.

He can be reached at
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