As a Clayton Holdings client, Joseph D’Urso remembers winning a big portfolio of loans on a Friday afternoon and asking if Clayton could send a team to Omaha, Nebraska, to start due diligence on Monday. Clayton could “move mountain and earth” and exceeded expectations by sending the team on Sunday.
“It was just a remarkable focus on clients and client service,” said D’Urso, who joined Clayton in 2013 after it acquired Green River Capital, where he was president and CEO. “I never forgot that, and the combination of focus on people and clients, internally and externally, really made sense to me given the space Clayton occupies in the market.”
Clayton helped pioneer the residential due diligence and servicer surveillance industries and, since its founding in 1989, has performed due diligence file reviews on more than 12 million loans and surveillance/oversight on more than $2 trillion in original balance.
Over the past three years, the Shelton, Connecticut-based company has conducted over 200 residential mortgage servicer operational assessments.
D’Urso has led the company through some big changes, including the 2014 acquisition by parent company Radian Group Inc. He’s played a significant role in the company’s growth strategy, which includes investing significantly in infrastructure and resources to focus on innovation and expand to new markets.
In March 2015, Clayton acquired Red Bell Real Estate, an enhanced property valuation and non-performing loans management company, which was part of his vision for establishing Clayton as a real estate services company. D’Urso said coming from a capital markets background, he’s used to an ever-changing work environment – he has more than 25 years in the financial services industry including stints at Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs. And the public-company status hasn’t changed Clayton’s focus on shareholder value and customer service.
“For our employees, it’s certainly been a lot of change, but frankly it’s been all very positive change and the employees have really embraced it,” he said. “Our team really stepped up to the challenge and embraced the change and has made the most of it. It’s been fun to watch.”
There’s no doubt the changing regulatory environment has been trying on many of Clayton’s clients, who have had to adapt.
“But that’s really our business,” he said. “It’s one area we can really add a lot of value giving our client the benefit insight of our tools to navigate through these challenges. We’ve been very collaborative with our clients, with regulators and ratings agencies and really helping to think through the issues as a thought leader.”
He also points to how Clayton has helped clients develop new strategies, businesses and techniques, including when Deutsche Bank AG and Blackstone entered the single-family rental space.
“We quickly developed and adapted those solutions for them so they could move more quickly and be more effective and accurate,” he said.
“Being nimble and helping adapt with and on behalf of our clients as they go into new areas and spaces, and being collaborative with all industry players, we’ve done a pretty good job of being part of the community that tackles those issues.”
D’Urso is a self-described Type A, “hard charger,” who wants everything done yesterday. But he understands good quality change has to be controlled and appropriate to be effective. He’s always viewed Clayton as entrepreneurial and client-focused and in line with his own leadership philosophy.
“I tend to focus a lot on people,” he said. “I just believe strongly that the strength of a business is in its people. We definitely have expanded some of our capabilities both with people and technology, and we’ve significantly reinvested in the business, enhancing and modernizing our business to meet challenges we have in the industry on behalf of our clients.”