Volunteer Mentor Gives Back

November 22, 2017

An avid mountain biker, trail runner and fan of the Backbone Trail, a nearly 67-mile trail in the Santa Monica Mountains, it makes sense that Britt Terrell (University of California at Santa Barbara, 1985) named the professional financing company he founded after the path he loves. As managing director of Backbone Capital Advisors, based in Studio City, Terrell underwrites, structures and closes middle market credit, focusing on acquisitions and restructuring debt. A member Delta Psi Chapter, Terrell served as treasurer during his college years and continues to advise the chapter on its finances. Terrell participated in the first UCSB Greek Interconnect event on November 11. This career-focused event is geared for alumni to connect with the Greek community and current students. Highlights include the power of networking, the possibilities the UCSB Greek community can create, and enabling alumni to mentor students in their professional journey.

Why did you choose to study at UC Santa Barbara?

I was a transfer student after two years at Humboldt State. I wanted to graduate from the University California system, and UCSB seemed like a great place to go. It had a business econ program that I expected to major in, but it was likely more the environment that drew me to UCSB, along with a few good friends who were already enrolled here.

Describe your job.

After initial years in commercial banking/business lending, and a few different roles in commercial finance, I transitioned into private equity in a corporate finance role. In 2011, I started my own financing firm as a corporate finance loan broker or boutique investment banker focused on debt and equity capital raising for lower middle market businesses.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

As an old friend once said to me, “Why work 40 hours a week for someone else when you can work 70 for yourself?” Having my own finance shop has had the peaks and valleys of “independence,” which I celebrate at times and makes my gut turn at other times. I do like driving a financing process, successfully closing a transaction and having my client say, “Great job. I’m not sure how I would have done this without you.”

What are some of your biggest challenges?

I want to ensure that my wife and I are healthy, fulfilled, productive and happy. My business is always challenging, and that takes up a large portion of my week. I run and bike a lot, try not to get injured, and try to have a positive impact on my community.

What new future trends are you seeing in finance?

With the blistering growth in private equity and non-bank credit funds since 2000, there is a tremendous amount of access to capital in the capital markets, especially in the last five years, but the real estate investments or business investments seem to be larger, so getting access to smaller businesses is a challenge. The mom and pop business still struggles to get credit and banks are very conservative, until the banks do a bad deal and are reprimanded for that and withdraw further from granting new credit.

How did your major in business econ help you in your career?

I also did an emphasis in accounting, and while I never became an accountant, I did have to pass an accounting test to get my first bank job, and I assume I would not have passed that test without taking accounting classes at UCSB. Today I still evaluate financial statements every day, and it is very helpful having accounting experience. Business economics is a way to think about how capitalist-based economies operate and human behavior decision making happens.

What is one career or personal milestone that you are most proud of?

Besides being a good husband and father, my company is now six years old, so I feel I have stood the initial test of time and am proud of that, but every day/week/month is a grind. I’m proud of maintaining the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity at UCSB from its implosion in 1988-89. The house corporation, led by Kevin McTague (University of California at Santa Barbara, 1984) at that time and by me as treasurer, operated and maintained the shelter and our non-profit entity and created a philanthropy program chaired by Brad Sevier (University of California at Santa Barbara, 1986) since 2001. I drove the recolonizing of the next Delt generation at UCSB in 2009-10, and I continue as the house corporation president today, helping the Delts operate in a positive fashion, be good citizens, maintain positive cash flow and have a great time building lifelong friendship bonds.

Who are your role models? How important are mentors?

My parents are my role models, positive, hardworking, givers-volunteers, who infused the environment with charm yet were tough when needed. Mentors are very important. I have a great wife who is always happy to offer input. My father-in-law is a solid mentor of mine.

What advice do you have for students or for those hoping to follow the same career path?

You should know the basics of accounting, understand the interaction between income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statements. Get very good at Excel and PowerPoint. Don’t worry so much about your first job, just get a first job and build from there. I started my own business at age 49. You have time to build your career; it doesn’t all happen in the first two years.

How did being part of Greek life impact your experience and your life today?

It’s all via being a Delt as undergraduate and part of the Delta Tau Delta House Corporation, and my relationship with my Delt brothers of my generation, the generation before us (graduates from 1958 to 1962) the young Delts recently graduated and students today. I have many lifelong close friends that are my Delt brothers. We just need to stay focused on remaining out of trouble.

Terrell is proud of UCSB’s reputation as a well-respected university, “Through my involvement with the Delts, I feel much more connected… my involvement with young men at Delta Tau Delta is very rewarding. I feel I have 100 nephews,” said Terrell.

Adapted. Courtesy of UC Santa Barbara Alumni