A native of Louisiana with a degree from Missouri State University, Mark Figert started his career in real estate finance with the Citadel Group in Chicago. After starting his own family, he began work in a residential lending company in St. Louis.
Mark has a propensity for entrepreneurship and this brought him to co-found Fidelity Bancorp. With just 3 people during its inception, the company has grown to become one of St. Louis’ best places to work with more than 30 employees and close to $100,000,000 in loan volume annually.
After selling Fidelity Bancorp to a local bank in 2012 and being its president until August 2014, he continues to consult in the banking industry to this day. Currently he is the president of a financial management consulting company named The Optima Group.
He has served on the Board of various prestigious companies, namely; Children of the World Charity and the Crestwood/Sunset Hills Chamber of Commerce.
Aside from being an entrepreneur, he also has an interest in sports such as snow skiing, gold and other outdoor activities. He prefers to spend his free time being outdoors with his growing family. He is married to Christie and they have 4 children, Oliver, Lily, Ethan and Emily.
His brilliant idea started with an observation while on the golf course playing a game with his boss. He observed that the club was packed during Wednesday afternoons and his boss mentioned that over 80% of the club members owned their own businesses. This inspired him to start his own business and start his own firm.
He then started Fidelity, the company became profitable very quickly. From sharing a one room office to growing by leaps and bound, he found the perfect formula to make Fidelity grow its revenue quickly.
The company’s very first customer was referred by a friend who worked in real estate. During his first transaction, Mark realized that purchasing businesses is the most consistent residential lending. Refinancing may be popular but it is highly dependent on interest rates.
People tend to refinance when rates are low. However, if the rates are high, the business tends to slow down. The variability of the rates cannot be controlled by anyone. By focusing on the business purchases, Fidelity was able to stay afloat and was able to stand firm even with all the changes.
Being in the Business
Being in the business excites Mark and one of the trends to watch out for currently is toward the higher standards and higher regulations which have long been overdue. Mortgage lending has fallen in disrepute because of the doings of unscrupulous companies and individuals which took advantage of their customers. With regulation, these companies have been driven out and all that remains are the true professionals. This action is seen to bring the people’s confidence back to the industry.
Mark’s dedication to the business and his craft led to the “Best Companies to Work For” award from the St. Louis Business Journal. The award was like a validation for all his hard work and all the long hours he put in to the business.