Prapti Basnet, Director, Underwriting, CIT Northbridge Credit

Prapti Basnet worked at CIT for six years before she took her current role supporting CIT Northbridge Credit in 2018. However, during those six years, she considered leaving the asset-based lending industry. At one point, with her role primarily split between underwriting and portfolio management, Basnet took a year-long hiatus to reset.

“I just needed to take a step back. I knew that I enjoyed underwriting, but my career just didn’t feel like it was going anywhere at the time,” Basnet says. “I really just took  some time for myself to focus on other things other than a career.”

Basnet’s career has clearly gone places since that hiatus. Now a director in CIT Asset Management supporting CIT Northbridge Credit, Basnet was named to the Secured Finance Network’s 40 under 40 list for 2021 and she’ll likely earn more accolades in the future, as she plans to keep improving her underwriting skills and advancing CIT Northbridge’s mission of direct lending.

Learning the Industry

Basnet was first introduced to the ABL product while she was working on Lloyds Bank’s letter of credit team after graduating from Queens College in in New York. At the time, Lloyds brought in Jeremy Harrison, now head of sales in the UK for ABN AMRO Commercial Finance, to start up an ABL team in the United States. Basnet says she “had no idea what asset-based lending even was” at the time, but Harrison brought her on board and set her on a dual underwriting and portfolio management path.

“He definitely gave me the confidence and the tools that were necessary in terms of training and exposure to the industry,” Basnet says. “He played a pretty big role in my career at the onset.”

Basnet, who began working for Harrison’s ABL team in 2008 as a junior underwriter , would stay with the team until 2012. In her early days with Lloyds, she also doubled down on her education, attaining a certificate in international business and finance from New York University, specifically focusing on credit training.

“When I got into the ABL team [at Lloyds], it was learning mode all over again,” Basnet says. “[NYU’s training class] gave me a really good foundation to build on one aspect of asset-based lending.”

Basnet has continued to further her education by taking courses with the Commercial Finance Association (now the Secured Finance Network), but those initial training classes have been major drivers for her career.

“To anyone starting out, I would definitely say credit training or formal credit training would be a good foundation to start,” Basnet says, also noting that she’s sharpened her underwriting skills simply by working on as many deals as she can.

After four years with Lloyds’ structured finance team, Basnet decided to take a role with CIT, primarily because she wanted to work on more direct deals in the middle market. In her early days with CIT, Basnet bonded with her then manager, Donna Evans, who would later move over to work on CIT Northbridge, a non-bank joint venture between Allstate and CIT. Following her year-long hiatus, Basnet eventually followed in Evans’ footsteps when an underwriting role opened up for CIT Northbridge. While the attraction of working in a non-bank environment and focusing on underwriting were the primary factors that appealed to Basnet, getting to work with Evans was a benefit as well.

“I’ve just learned so much more from her. She’s always been the one to step back and let me do my thing,” Basnet says. “I’ve never seen anyone stand up for their underwriting recommendation the way Donna has. She will not waiver.”

Underwriting Over Everything

In supporting CIT Northbridge, Basnet is able to focus on her favorite part of the ABL process: underwriting.

“The collateral analysis part is what intrigued me the most in ABL,” Basnet says. “Being very focused on the collateral value, the assets that you’re lending against, is probably what I like the most about being an underwriter.”

While underwriting is her primary responsibility, Basnet doesn’t ignore the other aspects of deals. For example, she has learned to consider the legal documentation side of each transaction.

“When I’m putting together a term sheet or a proposal, I think about how I might need to document this going forward, because a few transactions that we’ve done, it’s been really difficult to document something that was put on paper in a proposal,” Basnet says.

In addition to the mechanics of ABL itself, Basnet has learned to improve her own processes to better mesh with the quick turnaround times of CIT Northbridge’s transactions.

“I think we’ve been a pretty nimble lender,” Basnet says. “What I’ve learned the most is time management. If you miss the timing on one thing, everything else that needs to be done also gets pushed.”

Making Progress

As she looks at what’s next for her career, Basnet is still dedicated to the underwriting world, saying she expect to continue underwriting ABL deals for CIT Northbridge for at least the next decade or so because she “genuinely enjoy[s] it.” Over time, there may even be a chance for Basnet to take on an expanded role within the team.

Beyond her own role, Basnet would like to see some more dramatic shifts in the ABL industry overall, particularly when it comes to creating opportunities for women and people of color and marketing to the next generation.

“I think a lot of people still see ABL as an older product that’s not as exciting,” Basnet says. “At its core it will always stay the same. But I hope that in the next 10 years – and I might not have anything to do with it – we’ll see more female representation, more female leaders out there in the ABL industry and more youthful people, people of different ethnicities. A lot of the times that I look around the room, I don’t see someone that’s from the same ethnic background as me. It’s just something that everybody notices in the room.”

Basnet also hopes to continue working on her passion for the nonprofit world, which almost pulled her away from the ABL industry when she stepped back from CIT for a year. Although she didn’t choose to make the jump then, she expects she will one day. In the meantime, she works with an organization called BlinkNow, which provides housing, books, education and other community services in Basnet’s home country of Nepal.

“I wanted to do something that was closer to home for me, which is why I support BlinkNow,” Basnet says. “For the next decade, I want to continue underwriting the kind of transactions that I am doing right now and I’ll happily do so. But eventually, I think I would really want to be a part of something more impactful within nonprofit.”