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What’s In A Name?

One of the toughest challenges an entrepreneur faces early on is naming the business. It may sound easy. But let me tell you, it isn’t.

I have a strong aversion to acronyms. The only acronym I’ve ever liked was NBI, the computer company that came and went in the 80s, whose initials stood for “Nothing But Initials.” I love the irony of that name. Now let me pose a question to you: If your job were to come up with an ironic, humorous, engaging name that’s appropriate for a business – and let’s just suppose that business is credit risk management and due diligence of mortgages and securitized mortgage pools – could you do it? 

If you have one, I’d love to see it. 

I fall back, though, on my standard in this regard. If a bond trader from the fixed income desk of a major bank introduces him or herself by saying, “Hi, I’m so-and-so, and I’m a BT in FI at LB,” then I’ll be a LMM (Loss Mitigation Manager) or a CRM (Credit Risk Manager) or a DDC (Due Diligence Contractor). And I’ll name my company something catchy, like CRMDDLMS (Credit Risk Management and Due Diligence Loss Mitigation Services). 

A year ago, I named my company Allonhill. I did it for many reasons, creative ideas not exactly flowing from an analytic mind being at the very top of that list. The name was actually proposed by Renee Magee, who headed our due diligence function and is, in fact, very creative and now working in a creative field that taps into her rich talents. 

I wanted my name in it: Allon. I wanted to make sure that the market knew that I, personally, stand behind this business. If we falter, I am the one who will be held accountable. This industry is in trouble. It needs accountability, more than anything else. I also wanted to capture Murrayhill, the company I started in 1997 and later sold, and its spirit of doing the right thing. Murrayhill’s reputation of  integrity and excellence was extraordinary. By taking that name and combining it with my own willingness to hold myself out to this industry as a participant who will stand up and proclaim that we’re willing to do what it takes to get it right, I hope to create a name that has real meaning. 

Allonhill (we always referred to Murrayhill as “The Hill,” just as we refer to Allonhill as “The Hill” now).

 What’s in a name? Pretty much everything I’ve worked for all my life.