Paul Vanderslice

Paul Vanderslice

Head of CMBS at BMO Capital Markets

Last year's rank: 35

Paul Vanderslice
By May 1, 2023 6:40 PM

Talk about taking a nice “Slice” of the pie. 

BMO may have entered the commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) business only 20 months ago, but it has already originated and distributed an impressive $7.56 billion in loans across 37 CMBS deals — and it’s just getting started. 

Active across four product lines today — conduit lending and securitization, single-asset single-borrower CMBS, agency underwriting, and warehouse lending — the platform remained one of the more active participants despite significant capital markets headwinds. In fact, it became a top 10 CMBS issuer, with the steepest growth trend in the industry.

“Last year was its first year fully up and running, and I feel we were a very relevant participant,” Paul Vanderslice said. “We make good partners on both the securitization and loan-splitting sides and we’re not institutional snobs — we evaluate deals based on whether the collateral is additive or not.” 

In 2022 alone, BMO produced and distributed $4.8 billion across 21 deals — $2.81 billion conduit, $1.98 billion SASB — taking the left lead position in six transactions. This year, the platform has securitized another $615 million of loans so far, including $478 million of conduit loans and a $137 million piece of a Brookfield industrial transaction.

“It was undoubtedly a tough year, and deals got harder as the year went on,” Vanderslice said, noting the rapid rise in interest rates and the Ukraine war as factors that heavily impacted transaction activity.  

That said, “We continued to originate all the way through the volatility,” he said. “Not transacting is a mistake a lot of other platforms make. From a credibility perspective, and to build and maintain a business, you have to stay in the market — or you can be 100 percent right about everything and do no business.” 

To be clear, however, “We’re in no way the dumb money out there,” Vanderslice said. “We’re not irresponsible. We transact effectively when the pricing and sizing is right for us, and we’ve established credibility pretty quickly.” 

BMO’s key strengths are creative, transparent solutions and certainty of execution, Vanderslice said, adding that “we don’t shy away from transactions that are harder to complete.”  

No man (or woman) is an island, and Vanderslice attributes the platform’s success to hiring the right people. His 21st hire is Goldman Sachs vet Leah Nivison. “I’m very confident in our group, and culturally we work very well together. I run the group flat, so it’s very inclusive and everyone’s involved when we’re contemplating a new deal. You can ask anyone, ‘What’s the strategy of the group?’ and they can tell you.” 

As if its expanding markethold weren’t enough cause for celebration, BMO acquired Bank of the West in January this year in a $16.3 billion deal, making it the fifth-largest U.S. bank by market capitalization. —C.C

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