A DEFT DANCER TAKES THE LEAD
Ling Xu was born in Beijing when the People’s Republic of China was undergoing significant diplomatic and economic changes. President Nixon’s visit in 1972 normalized relations between our two countries, and Chinese citizens began to see opportunities for self-advancement.
“Both of my parents graduated from the top engineering school in China and did research on military-related projects,” says Ling. “After normalization, they switched to civil engineering. Eventually, my dad quit his job at a state-owned business and started his own company. It was a risky, gutsy move.”
Ling earned an economics degree from the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, one of the first business schools in China. “My dad, being open-minded and forward thinking, encouraged me to pursue international business, which was a hot, up-and-coming profession at that time,” she says.
Ling came to the U.S. to study at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. She got her MBA in finance and information systems. After graduation, she consulted with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and later on joined Freddie Mac Multifamily twice, with a 3.5 years stint in between with a private equity firm specializing in CMBS investments. Over 17 years in the industry, she’s dabbled in process improvements, valuation, risk management, securitization, trading and hedging, and more. “This is a fast-moving business and the only constant is change.”
Ling is always looking for ways to improve our bottom line with innovative risk management strategies. In 2016, she established a micro-hedging platform for Multifamily, the first business line to do so, which proved to be a very successful model later adopted by other business lines. Today, she heads a team of 12 problem-solving innovators. In addition to hedging, Ling’s team develops and executes various risk transfer transactions complementary to Multifamily’s signature product, the K-Deal.
A recent example is the Multifamily Reinsurance program, which enables us to synthetically transfer credit risk for Freddie Mac-guaranteed municipal bonds and PCs (participation certificates) targeting affordable housing.
“We did our first deal last year, and we’re in the process of doing more deals this year that are not limited to affordable housing,” she says. “PCs are a growing product line because they reduce the loan aggregation time in our pipeline, which reduces our market risk. With PCs and reinsurance, we control the timing of credit risk and market risk transfer with more flexibility.”
If all this sounds complex, that’s because it is. Almost like mastering individual moves, then blending them into a seamless dance. Maybe her ability to bring it all together in finance has something to do with one of her life-long hobbies: “I’ve always loved dancing. I recently took up ballet, which may be the hardest type of dance there is. It’s not just a physical challenge; you really have to train your mind.” We’ll be the first to sign up if she ever decides to teach leadership classes.
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