By  on September 17, 2007

J. Michael Stanley, managing director at Rosenthal & Rosenthal Inc.'s factoring division, one of the country's larger factoring firms, knows the ins and outs of the apparel business. He has to because the job depends on an intimate level of knowledge of both retailers and vendors.

But he was not always an insider. Thirty years ago, Stanley admits that the "only experience I had with apparel was wearing apparel." Today, Stanley is a key player in the industry, and earlier this year assumed the managing director title at the firm. Stanley, who has been with Rosenthal for 10 years, is also a member of the firm's executive committee.

Stanley was drawn to the factoring industry by a feeling that it represented a growth opportunity and was an interesting part of the financial services world.

Rosenthal & Rosenthal does in excess of $4 billion in annualized volume in its factoring division, Stanley said. The firm also provides financing for asset-based, real estate and fine art transactions. The company employs roughly 200 people in its factoring division, divided between offices in California and New York.

Since joining the industry after earning an undergraduate degree in business and finance in 1975, Stanley worked with a few factors before joining Rosenthal. He started his career with United Factors and also spent time with Capital Factors. Since then, Stanley also earned an MBA in finance.

He currently serves as a board member at the Fashion Institute of Technology's Educational Foundation for the Fashion Industries. He is active in trade organizations such as the Decorum Manhattan Credit Club, the Commercial Finance League and the Commercial Finance Association, as well as in a number of charitable organizations.

The factoring industry, like many others, has evolved through a prolonged period of consolidation. That consolidation has altered the landscape of the industry, but has mirrored movements in the apparel sector.

"The biggest change we've all seen is the consolidation of both the vendor and the retail spectrums. And the sourcing shift to low-cost-producing countries and the challenges it takes to finance that supply chain," Stanley said. Indeed, in looking forward, Rosenthal is considering the possibility of opening an office in Asia, he said.

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