College job leads to unplanned and successful career in loan administration

March 28, 2024
Woman seated at a table
Suzanne Rathbun is based in McLean, Virginia.

National Commercial Real Estate Loan Administration manager developed a passion for the details

Suzanne Rathbun was majoring in criminal justice and forensic science with a long-term plan of going to law school and becoming a prosecutor when the 2007-2008 financial crisis changed everything.

While getting her undergraduate degree during that time period, Rathbun worked in a law firm’s commercial real estate and financial practices group, and it gave her an up-close look at how bank loans work.

She found the work fascinating.

“I decided at that point, with less than year left of my undergrad degree, to switch course, start over and pursue a degree in finance,” Rathbun said. “It was the best decision I ever made.”

Rathbun got that finance degree and started a career in banking, where she’s held various loan administration roles in commercial real estate and other commercial lending products. She joined U.S. Bank in the summer of 2021 as the national head of Commercial Real Estate Loan Administration.

In this position, she leads teams that administer the entire life of a loan, from the preclosing work to closing and funding the loan, to continuing loan administration and monitoring. She also leads the compliance, risk and disbursement teams. The teams support the bank’s Commercial Real Estate and Commercial Banking Middle Market CRE groups and work on complex loans ranging from $10 million to well over $150 million.

“We provide direct support internally to relationship managers, underwriters and credit officers, but we also communicate directly with clients, whether they are private developers or up to institutional commercial real estate investors,” Rathbun said. “U.S. Bank has disciplined credit, process and risk mitigation practices, and we help make sure those practices are followed every step of the way.”

Rathbun’s teams need to have a deep understanding of commercial real estate processes, she said.

“We need to understand everything that is needed from a legal documentation, commercial real estate due diligence and credit policy standpoint to support both the client and the bank,” Rathbun said. “It's a very technical space but at the same time, I really try to reinforce with my team that not everything is black and white. There’s going to be a gray area sometimes and we need to assess and analyze all the information that’s available to come up with the right course of action.”

Rathbun has a great passion for the industry, she said. She is part of several industry groups and enjoys mentoring people on various teams in the bank as well as through the University of Richmond’s Women in Leadership Certificate Program, where she is an advisor.

She also gets great satisfaction from seeing commercial real estate projects come to fruition.

“Some people may see a project as just another building, but I like to think about the impact it will have on an area,” she said. “It can generate employment opportunities, provide financing for multifamily housing to support a growing market and provide retail for much-needed amenities.”  

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