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Leading a Full-Court Press

Kieran P. Quinn

Age: 58

Company: Column Financial Inc.

Title: Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Time in current role: Fourteen years

Biggest accomplishment: Creation of Column Financial

Short-term goal: Successfully lobby Congress to extend or replace the Terrorism Risk Insurance Extension Act, set to expire Dec. 31, 2007

It's clear that Kieran Quinn is a workhorse when it comes to his involvement in the Mortgage Bankers Association. The CEO of Atlanta-based Column Financial has served on no less than 39 of the MBA's boards, task forces and committees and is in line to become chairman next year. In what he considers his most important role, Quinn helped the MBA lobby for passage and then renewal of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), a federal backstop that enables insurance companies to offer affordable terrorism insurance.

TRIA was extended at the end of 2005, but is set to expire at the end of this year. That's why Quinn is already beating the drum in Washington, working to convince lawmakers that legislation must be enacted this year to ensure that affordable terrorism insurance remains available.

What will happen if the federal backstop goes away? “In the short run it will be a shutdown of the real estate finance industry,” Quinn says. “We are going to have people trying to force place insurance, and costs of it are going to be ridiculous.”

Quinn is passionate about TRIA in part because he wouldn't be able to do business without it. At Column Financial, Quinn originates and aggregates commercial loans for inclusion in commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS), and mortgages can't be included in CMBS deals without terrorism insurance.

“[TRIA] is a critical part of our legislative agenda because we know it's a critical part of our lending initiatives,” Quinn says. “We are absolutely all over that issue with a full-court press. For the MBA and for our business, we've really got to get this put in place.”

While his experience is on the commercial side, Quinn takes pains to represent the entire mortgage banking industry, according to Gail Davis Cardwell, a senior vice president at the MBA. “As he steps up to become an officer next year, he's been very willing to learn the single-family issues, and to learn them thoroughly,” she says.

“He has been a huge advocate for us on insurance issues, including catastrophic issues in the Gulf Coast,” adds Cardwell. “He's interested in people, he's interested in the business, and he has the vision to lead us forward.”

Why has Quinn devoted so much time and energy to the Mortgage Bankers Association? He feels that he owes as much to the organization as it owes him. New York-born Quinn earned his MBA degree from the University of Chicago and started his career in the commercial lending department of First National Bank of Chicago. When the bank decided to ramp up real estate lending in the late 1970s, Quinn attended a five-day course offered by the MBA covering the subject.

“I left that week with the confidence that I could do this,” Quinn recalls. “I clearly didn't understand everything about commercial real estate, but I had the groundwork. And I knew I had a go-to person there in the MBA if I needed additional help along the way.”

In 1994, during Column Financial's first year in business, Quinn expanded the bank's network by meeting with as many mortgage bankers as he could during an annual MBA conference. Today Column is the commercial mortgage subsidiary of Credit Suisse, and has closed more than 6,400 commercial mortgages valued at more than $79 billion.

As the next MBA chairman, Quinn wants to ensure that investors new to the mortgage industry are aware of the resources available through the MBA that have contributed to his own successful career. “The MBA has the best research on the street, and we are the voice of the real estate business,” he says. “We want to be the go-to person when somebody has a question about real estate.”

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