16 Questions with Hometap’s CFO
As Chief Financial Officer, Tom handles all things fiscal for Hometap, including budgeting, forecasting, and business planning.
CAREER HISTORY / FINANCE BACKGROUND
Q1: Was there ever a point (either in your education or in your early career) when you considered another career path that wasn’t in finance?
Well, a lot of my past experience hasn’t been in finance directly — I had general management roles at Fidelity, and spent six years at the Boston Consulting Group as a strategy and operations consultant. But I’ve always been a numbers geek (as a preschooler, I’d keep a running tab of the grocery bill as my mom made her way through the aisles), and have approached every role with a goal of improving key performance drivers.
Q2: General Electric and Fidelity Investments are big names with big teams — what made you decide to bring your talents to a startup like Hometap?
In a word, impact! I went from BCG to Fidelity to have more of a sense of ownership, and this has been another step along that path. We move thoughtfully but fast, and it’s fun to see the results of your work on an ongoing and near real-time basis. Luckily, I got reconnected with Jeff Glass a couple of years ago and happened to leave Fidelity at the same time Jeff was looking for a CFO.
Q3: What’s the biggest challenge you face as CFO at Hometap?
Would be great to have a few more hours in each day! We have a big opportunity ahead of us to help homeowners and to grow an important company, so there’s always more to do than there is time.
Q4: How do you measure the success of your team?
There are three distinct parts of the CFO team: Finance, Data Science/Data Engineering, and Financial Product. We have different quantitative metrics to gauge success in each, and the common denominator across all of them is Executing with Intention — are we getting the work done that can have the most positive impact on Hometap’s mission?
Q5: You took a break from finance for two years to fulfill a personal goal of full-time community service. What was that like?
It was awesome — working with kids was wonderful and the school staff was a great team. The school’s model focused on keeping the kids on task and out of trouble — classes from 8am to 2:30pm, sports and activities from 2:30 to 5, then back to school from 6 to 8 for homework. So many great people: the kids, my colleagues, and the parents looking to get their kids to a better place. More than a few people thought I was crazy for leaving a successful career at GE for that, but it was such a worthwhile experience. One of the kids I taught is now principal of the school. Most importantly, I met my wife during that time.
Q6: How did you decide on teaching and coaching at a tuition-free prep school? What did you take away from that experience?
I had figured out that I didn’t want to stay on the fast track at GE, and since college, I had thoughts of doing something service-oriented. I explored a few volunteer opportunities — another option I had was to teach business in Belize! — but decided on Nativity Prep after visiting the school. The takeaway? There are so many kids with talent who just need the right situation and support.
Q7: How do you stay apprised of all of the things you need to be aware of in this role (real estate, financial trends, etc.)
Read, read, read, and follow the numbers — there’s a lot of great information out there about residential real estate, both quantitative and qualitative. I try to devote a little time each day to staying current. Also, the best consultants I worked with were those who had a knack for asking three more relevant questions in any given conversation. I try to do that, even when I’m reading; what else should I know about given what I’m seeing here?
Q8: What’s something you wish members of other teams within Hometap understood about the finance team and/or the work that you do?
This applies to more than just my team — there’s a lot that happens in the day-to-day across Hometap that is easy to miss because it’s done right. A former colleague used to call those activities “breathing” — you don’t really pay much attention to others doing it, but it’s important! Getting investors and lenders information they need, staying ahead of tax issues with a multi-state workforce, data wrangling to support future analysis — there’s not a lot of glory in it, but the team does a great job in getting the day-to-day right.
Q9: What are the qualities you’re looking for when recruiting members of your team?
My parents both emigrated from Italy and my Dad put two kids through college by working as a waiter in New York City. His life showed me the importance of hard work and valuing relationships. Those two qualities are table stakes for me. The ability to work with others is so important — there are very few roles in any company that create value without working across functional lines. Another is the ability to recognize and focus on what’s important — there’s always more that can be done than there is time.
Q10: Do you have a go-to interview question (when interviewing any role)? What is it?
What do you consider success in your role? It gives me a sense of what candidates see as important and how they spend their time and frame their work to get to that. Another I stole from a b-school classmate: what have you learned this week? Business, technology, society — it’s all moving fast and successful people tend to have a way of learning relevant things all the time.
Q11: If you could trade jobs with anyone else at Hometap for a week, what position would it be?
Oooh, so many opportunities! If I had to pick one, I’d swap with one of the Investment Managers to get a frontline view of what our homeowners are saying when they come to our door.
Q13: What’s one quality someone needs to be successful at Hometap?
I could cheat by saying “follow Hometap’s values”, but if you really want to boil it down to one quality, I’d say accountability — people who are focused on driving to results that further Hometap’s mission while being good neighbors to their colleagues who are looking to do the same.
Q14: What qualities do you look for in a company’s office culture?
I’ve enjoyed work most when colleagues are all bought into the organization’s mission, we all work hard to get results, and we enjoy each other’s company. Hometap hits on all three (even more so when we’re in the office!).
Q15: What has been your best contribution to the happiness team?
Amazon gift cards for contest winners! Also, emphasizing in-person events when we can.
Q16: What are the best and worst parts of working from home?
Best part: more time seeing my family. Even if we’re all busy doing different things, we’re eating dinner together most days and I get the occasional drive-by to my home office from one of my kids. It’s also nice to have the extra time from not commuting — picking up my running again in advance of my first marathon in three years in September.
Worst part: I miss other people! Even for an introvert, there’s a limit to how much alone time is valuable, and co-location drives creativity and camaraderie in a way Zoom just doesn’t.
Hometap is made up of a collaborative team of underwriters, investment managers, financial analysts, and—most importantly—homeowners—in the home financing field that understand the challenges that come with owning a home.