Tree Buckingham has been a pioneer in the asset-based lending space for 30 years. Always eager to learn more, take on new roles and explore advancing technology, Buckingham is already on to her next great endeavor with Mountain Ridge Capital.
Tree Buckingham began in the commercial finance space in factoring, which led her to an opportunity in asset-based lending. Since then, Buckingham says technology innovations and new talent entering the market have kept her in the industry, with its forward-moving momentum allowing it to evolve while keeping its foundations intact.
Buckingham is an expert in ABL, with experience that varies across verifications, collateral analysis, trend analytics, field examination, operations as well as underwriting and portfolio management.
“Since 2008, I’ve been on an intentional path within ABL operations,” Buckingham says, noting that with 30 years in the industry under her belt, her favorite part of the industry has always been the constant learning. “There is a perpetual desire within me to leverage learning in the trenches to take a team to the next level. There’s always this exposure to new things in the market, whether it’s the fee structures changing or the credit box migrating, adapting to market shifts while technology hits a strong stride, or, as in my case, the M&A space taking off and being part of it.”
At Mountain Ridge Capital, Buckingham has many responsibilities as executive vice president of operations, including covering loan administration and servicing as well as aspects of accounting, budgeting, IT and corporate administration. Such a role is a perfect fit considering her background in multiple departments at previous organizations.
“I’ve made a career out of bridging the gap between the front office and the back office,” Buckingham adds. “I’ve been very intentional about creating a strong interplay between credit and operations while considering the byproduct departments of risk, data, compliance, with technology charting the course.”
A New Adventure
Buckingham has worked for companies from across the ABL sector, including Sterling National Bank, Solifi and GMAC Commercial Finance. However, her newest role is with startup Mountain Ridge Capital. She got involved with the company when a previous executive she had worked with reached out to her about an ABL startup opportunity in Dallas. She then took part in discussions with the company’s investor, Arena Investors, and was immediately drawn to the investor profile, the non-bank space and the opportunity to create a company.
“It feels rewarding to build something you know is impacting the industry,” Buckingham says. “Doing it with the team we put together really makes it even more special. So, it offered me the opportunity to do what I did in 2008 with what was then Core Business Credit and do it 2.0, bigger and better.”
From helping start Core Business Credit, which eventually sold to NewStar Business Credit and then Sterling National Bank, Buckingham learned to think long term and focus on building relationships, particularly with vendors, while mapping out how a business will utilize technology. Buckingham believes in focusing on scalability for the here and now as well as fueling the future of an organization. In addition, Buckingham advocates for bringing the right talent to the table and remaining kind, hungry and humble while being willing to take risks and learn along the way.
“You’re not going to have all the answers up front. But you have to be willing to move forward and execute and make things happen,” Buckingham says.
Buckingham is proud of making a career in ABL and learning the industry from the ground up. Pulling from her experience leading teams across the finish line of mergers and acquisitions, Buckingham believes in empowering employees. Buckingham doesn’t just help those she works with, but she also serves on the education committee of the Secured Finance Network, where she helps make decisions about the association’s offerings.
“Mentoring and education is very important to me,” Buckingham says. “And although I learned a great deal in the industry from a lot of talented men and women, the majority of my industry instruction has come from SFNet by attending their classes and their conferences. So, I want to give back to something that’s given me so much within my career.”
Looking past the short term, Buckingham is committed to curating a culture of success at Mountain Ridge and possibly doing consulting work further down the road.
“I really want to take everything I’ve learned in the foreground and bring it to the forefront and help asset-based lending continue to be a strong industry, by continuing to be innovative,” Buckingham says. “I’ve been in the industry for so long because the asset-based lending industry is exciting. I think it’s a creative space. I think it’s a collaborative space. And I don’t ever see myself not being a part of it.”
With the motivation to continue to move the industry forward, Buckingham thinks it is important to focus on cross-functional teams and emphasize the combined colleague and client experience.
“I believe right where I’m at, at Mountain Ridge Capital, is the destined place for me as a person to continue to use my passions to propel purpose to an industry that I’ve been a student of for 30 years,” Buckingham says.