Alternative Capital Solutions Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary!

By: Leah Waldrop, Director of Marketing for Alternative Capital Solutions

Terry Luker looks back on how creative lending solutions and outside-the-box strategies helped to solidify a decade of success.

It’s a monumental milestone for Terry Luker as he is celebrating the 10 year anniversary of his commercial lending brokerage, Alternative Capital Solutions (ACS), this fall. After founding ACS in 2013, Luker knew that the commercial real estate market was one that would take consistent adaptation, patience and hard work when building his customer-base. After spending more 25 years in the automotive and finance worlds, Luker was determined to become a networking expert in this new adventure and solidify relationships with banks and lending partners across the country – a goal that has generated a highly-successful 10 years for ACS and has further enabled Luker to mentor to others in the industry. With this strategy, he also quickly became one of the most well-connected and authentic professionals in the industry.

Putting an emphasis on networking and mentorship allowed Luker to help lead the industry away from cookie-cutter lending methods, but instead to a customer-focused approach based on their needs and goals. An approach that is centered on outside-the-box thinking. One of Luker’s mottos that aligns with this belief is, “When a deal doesn’t fit in a certain box, simply build a new box.” The team at ACS continues to stand by this motto when it comes to building lending solutions for their clients.

Luker additionally explains his stance on unique deal structure by describing how his, “Favorite thing about ACS is the fact that every client is different, and the lending needs of each client is different.” He continues this thought with noting that, “It is fun and exciting to get to work with clients and figure out the best way to meet those clients’ funding needs. Every situation is unique, and every opportunity creates a moment of learning for us – even after ten years in business.” This signature outlook that Luker holds is what has allowed him to standout within the industry early on and has led him to being awarded by the National Alliance of Commercial Loan Brokers (NACLB) in both 2014 and 2016 with accolades as both the NACLB Rookie of the Year and NACLB Broker of the year, respectively.

An additional point that has allowed ACS to grow and adapt since 2013 has been Luker’s acute sense of delegation. Luker realized quickly in the initial years that several tasks were getting in his way of building authentic client relationships – which meant the need to build a team that could take on those extracurriculars outside of his main areas of focus. Luker is a proud team leader and firmly believes that creating departments and making top-talent hires in key roles has enabled ACS to plug experts into the fields of credit and underwriting, business development, finance, and marketing throughout the years – allowing deals to be worked quickly and seamlessly while Luker is able to do what he does best — network and nurture industry relationships while also staying active in mentoring to the commercial lending community of brokers such as with his proprietary e-learning tool, The Commercial Broker Playbook.

Employment and office culture is a hot topic in today’s environment. When Luker was asked to describe the culture of ACS and what he finds important when it comes to the ACS employees, he excitedly replied that, “This is an easy one for me, family. We work together as a team, and no one is afraid of the work we have, and each person is eager to jump in and help on any project that we are working on – no matter how time-consuming it might be.” Jeff Luker, Luker’s son and the vice president and chief operations officer of ACS, echoed this belief and included that stability and trust are two of the values that are held at ACS. “The core group of the company has been together for eight years. Most of our employees have children so we truly strive to put family first.”

Looking optimistically to the future of ACS, Luker is thrilled to see the next generation put their spin on the company saying, “I am the oldest person on staff in our company. I look forward to stepping aside and watching these young people take the reins and continue to grow ACS in the next few years. We have a core of people that are passionate about what we do and to be able to watch them all grow and develop is truly a fulfilling experience for me personally.”

Thanks to Luker’s keen sense of strategy and industry knowledge, ACS has become one of the nation’s leading commercial loan brokerages and is showing no signs of slowing the momentum. Furthermore, Jeff has been passionate about learning the “ACS way” structured by his father, Luker, and works to instill the core values that have been established since 2013. Jeff recently discussed the future direction of ACS and stated, “I thoroughly believe that with the quality of our staff and their drive to succeed, there’s no limit to the number of business owners we can continue to help. Our team has a great ability to be flexible and without a ‘standard deal type’ to hold to, we are always able to quickly pivot in a way that best assists our clients.”

“Exciting. Adventurous. Creative.” These are the keywords Luker uses to describe the spirit of ACS – saying further that, “Our team over these last ten years has certainly evolved. If you would have told me ten years ago that this is where we would be today, I’m not sure I would have believed you. We are blessed with people that look for ways to help our clients and not for ways to say “no” to get a deal off their desk. We have truly been blessed.”

Join ACS in celebrating 10 years of creative lending solutions, authentic networking, and exemplary leadership – 10 years of Alternative Capital Solutions and a decade of Luker building a business that continues to exceed the expectations of all who experience the “ACS way.”

ACS Welcomes New CFO

Please help us give our new Chief Financial Officer, Michelle Jordan, a warm welcome! Ms. Jordan joined our team this October and hit the ground running by joining us at the NACLB Conference in Las Vegas. Prior to her employment with us, Ms. Jordan served in several roles including Corporate Controller and CFO for a variety of financial services companies in the Nashville area. Ms. Jordan is a licensed CPA in Tennessee, and she earned her BS in Accounting from Lipscomb University in Nashville. Ms. Jordan is a member of the AICPA and TSCPA and she resides in Williamson County, Tennessee.

The Right Strategy: Professional and personal development will help you find greater satisfaction

By: Keely Pate, Alternative Capital Solutions: Director of Development

Published for The Scotsman Guide / July 2022

Commercial real estate professionals have diverse backgrounds and experiences. After the initial entry into the business — whether through an employer or a training program — lenders, brokers, credit officers and other industry professionals all navigate their own unique career, both professionally and personally.

Where these professionals find themselves at the beginning of their careers, however, is not the final destination. Expanding knowledge and building new capabilities can lead to increased effectiveness and personal satisfaction. With ongoing regulatory and economic changes, technical advancements, and shifts in personal preferences and priorities, savvy lending professionals continuously evaluate where they are and where they want to be.
Continuing education enables mortgage finance professionals to maintain existing certifications and licenses, keep up with industry trends, diversify skill sets and prepare for new growth opportunities. With so many options in the marketplace, and limited time and resources, it can be challenging to identify the right development path for each professional’s unique needs and future goals.
An ongoing and intentional continuing education strategy can help commercial real estate professionals connect activities to desired outcomes while generating increased effectiveness and satisfaction. To quote John C. Maxwell, the renowned leadership expert, speaker and author, “If you want to reach your goals and fulfill your potential, become intentional about your personal growth. It will change your life.”
You may be familiar with the concept of using a SWOT analysis to consider the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to a business or product. A personal SWOT analysis can help generate clarity about an individual’s current state of development, and the results can be used to map out an intentional path forward when it comes to professional development activities.

Evaluate your strengths

The first step is to evaluate current strengths in the areas of knowledge, skills and abilities. Then, through self-reflection and constructive feedback from others, consider weaknesses by identifying behaviors that could potentially jeopardize relationships, as well as gaps in knowledge or skills that could possibly lead to oversights or missed business opportunities.
After that, consider possible external threats that could hinder professional performance and results. Lastly, evaluate opportunities that are available within the industry and your community, as well as your professional network and other places.
The commercial mortgage industry, as those involved quickly learn, offers endless opportunity to specialize and diversify. The key for each professional is to identify which areas of specialization and diversification are right for them.
Your desired future might involve the identification of new clients within a current niche, expansion into a different geographic market, or even a new product launch or service offering. Painting the picture of a desired future expedites the decisionmaking process for professional development.
Once the current state and desired future state have been defined, it is time to explore specific continuing education options and evaluate how each initiative will lead to the desired result.
Resource constraints such as time, funds and logistics will largely factor into the selection process. The following programs and activities outline continuing education options that professionals in the commercial mortgage field have utilized, along with the connection to desired business results.

Licenses and certifications

When prioritizing continuing education, mortgage professionals should first understand the applicable state licensing requirements and the educational requirements to maintain that license. After that, optional certifications and other continuing education activities can be considered.
Jobs within the mortgage industry have varying licensing requirements, which also can differ from state to state. Currently, the distinction that drives licensing requirements is consumer lending versus commercial lending. Most consumer protection regulations are not applicable to loans made for business purposes. But regulatory changes may impact licensing requirements, subsequently affecting continuing education strategies for commercial mortgage brokers and other industry professionals.
Professional certifications are usually voluntary initiatives for individuals to gain proficiency and, particularly when granted with an exam, demonstrate mastery of related knowledge. Although some certifications require continuing education, most do not.
Colleges and universities offer a variety of adult continuing education programs. These are typically led by expert industry practitioners or faculty. Ranging in duration from a few days to several weeks, the programs usually include in-person learning, virtual learning and self-paced e-learning. This flexibility makes programs in other cities and states a possibility for professionals with busy schedules.

Networking opportunities

Another reason to take part in continuing education programs is the opportunity for networking. The adage, “It’s not only what you know, but also who you know,” rings true for those in the commercial mortgage industry. An active network of brokers, lenders, accountants, attorneys and business owners offers the expertise needed to meet your clients’ needs.
Establishing a greater presence on social media has enabled mortgage professionals to expand to new geographic markets and reach potential clients outside of their existing professional networks. Online sites offer a wealth of resources that show how to better utilize social media.
Videos on YouTube, posts on Reddit and simple Google searches offer step-by-step instructions and free online tools to help market your services on platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. Even if the decision is to outsource and have someone else manage your social media strategy, having a foundational knowledge of options and strategic considerations can lead to more informed decisions.

Skill expansion

Regardless of the industry, busy professionals can build capabilities through the expansion of skills outside of their direct job roles. For example, an experienced commercial mortgage professional dedicated time to the study of jiu jitsu. They found that it helped their ability to stay calm and solve problems under pressure.
Developing this skill relates to work situations, interacting with clients and troubleshooting challenging situations. As this person put it, there are many times in jiu jitsu where you are in a bad position with an opponent and panicking will only make it worse. You must learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable and to think through the solution, because overreacting will not help the situation.
A business coach also can help a mortgage professional develop new skills and strengths, including the ability to better understand situations and effectively respond to them. Many people use their own experiences and perceptions to interpret situations, then act without fully understanding the intent and motivation of others. Responding effectively, in a way that meets the needs of the situation, can make the difference in securing a client and closing a deal when the stakes are high.
In a dynamic industry such as commercial real estate finance, professionals who can listen to the client’s needs and develop effective solutions are better prepared for success. Increasing self-awareness and awareness of others helps to develop emotional intelligence or emotional quotient. Having emotional intelligence allows professionals to respond thoughtfully to situations. Utilizing a business coach, completing a personality assessment, and learning about conflict and communication styles are tools that can result in consensus building, clarity, and satisfied clients and stakeholders.
Continuing education is not a one-way journey with a single destination. Instead, it serves as a resource to help professionals achieve desired results. It is one step within an ongoing strategic process of envisioning potential outcomes and then mapping a strategy of how to get there.
With changing external opportunities and obstacles — and with new programs and continuing education options — regular review and reassessment is a best practice for staying current and achieving fulfilling professional outcomes. After all, if you want to reach your goals and fulfill your potential, become intentional about your personal growth. It will change your life.