Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:33 pm
Robert Perry, the former executive vice president and chief operations officer of Wauwatosa Savings Bank, recently started Mainstreet Financial Group LLC, a mortgage broker business in Brookfield.
Launching the new lending firm, which opened in December, was a way to break into a more aggressive business model than most banks can by offering mortgages to both retail and commercial customers, Perry said.
Perry has more than 25 years experience in real estate, which he has pursued as a side business.
"I absolutely love (the real estate business). It’s a new opportunity and challenge every single day," Perry said.
The banking industry has taken a turn not just to be financially conservative, Perry said, but "counter-entrepeneurial," with bank boards often afraid to make good calculated risks.
"That takes all the fun out of a risk-based business," he said. "The banking business was set up to take upon calculated risk … and that just isn’t happening."
Mainstreet Financial Group, which has its offices at 16620 W. Bluemound Road, will broker mortgages to people looking to purchase or build homes and businesses seeking to buy real estate.
The firm’s business model estimates $125 million in new mortgages in its first year, Perry said.
As president and chief executive officer of the start-up lender, Perry is currently its only employee. He said Mainstreet eventually will have a staff of five, but the firm will gradually build to that level.
For Perry, starting his own lending firm was a logical step after retiring from Wauwatosa Savings Bank in April 2004. Even when he worked at the bank, he pursued other business interests during the evening hours.
"I love the startup aspect of companies. I love seeing something that myself or someone else put together grow over time," Perry said. "And I get to get back into mortgages and get to run my own little company. I get to serve my customers that I think were not being served in the way they deserved to be."
Mainstreet Financial Group will serve all of the metropolitan Milwaukee market, but the company is beginning with a focus on Waukesha County because of its continuing real estate boom, Perry said.
"It helps with having a development company, because I know if someone walks in and they’ve found a piece of land for $3,000 an acre in Oconomowoc, I can tell them to buy it now and buy it quickly, because that’s a pretty decent price at this point," Perry said.
Perry said his father and grandfather, both of whom also worked at Wauwatosa Savings Bank, which was started by his great-uncle, taught him much about the real estate market.
"I am convinced that Mainstreet Financial Group, when it is rolled out, will be a real neat organization and an outstanding mortgage lender in the City of Milwaukee," Perry said. "We won’t be following. We’ll be leading."
January 7, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI