Brian Geraghty learned early that if you kept your head down and did your homework, it kept you out of Mom’s line of sight. “She had a rule: If you weren’t doing schoolwork or at your part-time job, she’d put you to work around the house,” he said.
Education was paramount in the Geraghty household. Both of his parents were immigrants from Ireland, where they landed in the Boston area, met and married. His mother was a nanny and cleaned houses, and his father worked for the Boston Globe as a delivery driver and maintenance man.
“They had eighth-grade educations, and that keeps you grounded,” said Geraghty. “That’s part of the reason my mom was all about education. You could be out with friends, but you had to deliver the goods with school.”
And “having my nose in a book” did deliver the goods; he attended Boston College, majoring in accounting and finance. He paid his way through college by washing dishes at a nursing home.
“Accounting firms, like storm troopers, would come through and wine and dine the kids,” he remembered. “I thought, ‘Hey, this is a great lifestyle.’” He landed a job at PriceWaterhouse and “the first day of work I knew I had made a mistake, but I stuck it out for four years.”
What he really wanted was a job in finance, a field he liked much better than accounting. He set his sights on a job at Bank of Boston, where he applied three times for the loan officer development program, but didn’t get in.
“So, I called up HR and said ‘what does a person have to do to get an interview?’ I had good grades and was a CPA,” he said. “They ended up putting me in a different area of the bank,” as a loan analyst.
Geraghty rose through the ranks with Bank of Boston, even as the name over the door changed to Fleet Securities and then finally Bank of America, with a few names in between.“I have worked in commercial banking, workouts, real estate, leveraged finance, financial sponsor corporate banking and environmental services,” he recalled.
From 1999 to 2000, he launched the food-and-beverage practice at Bank of Boston, which later merged with Fleet. “I bolted into the restaurant industry with what the team at Fleet was doing there,” he said.
And he liked his job: “It was like being a project manager. With each customer there are different skill sets to bring to bear. We were digging into company financials, presenting to the risk committees. I just liked the variety of the job. It wasn’t purely analytical, not purely marketing and not purely accounting. You were managing customers.”
Over time, he was further pulled into the restaurant industry through financing McDonald’s suppliers. He left Bank of America for a job at GE Capital, and then was recruited by MUFG Union Bank as the managing director of its Food, Beverage and Restaurant Group, where he has been the last eight years.
When first joiningthe group at MUFG, he concentrated on food and beverage, and then started doing more restaurant lending. “Now we’re doing more of a push into non-investment grade lending, mid-cap lending,” he said. “We had relationships with franchisors, but started lending directly to franchisees about 18 months ago. There is a wealth of opportunity there.”
So much so that Geraghty, who is based in Boston, put together a team in Atlanta: Bank of America alums Shawn Janko, Jake Nash and Chris Addison joined the group.
“We like this business, even during the pandemic,” Geraghty said. “We are closing loans. It was tough this last summer, but once we got through that, we have been closing—in fact we closed half a dozen in the last fewmonths. And we have the appetite to do more, primarily in fast casual and QSR.”
With 30-plus years in banking, he’s experienced a lot. “I’ve learned over the years to be direct with customers and co-workers on what you really think, as opposed to trying to soft pedal bad news. I just try to tell people straight up: A quick ‘no’ is better than a ‘maybe’ if you can’t get it done.”
Advice he would give to someone coming up in finance? “Regardless of what plan you think you have, I would encourage young people to be somewhat flexible and nimble. I had no idea 30 years ago I would be working for a Japanese bank doing business in the U.S. See where the path takes you. Don’t be afraid to take a chance.”
Looks like it worked for him. Maybe because he did hiss homework?