Jen Gage has been an integral part of our success at MountainView Risk & Analytics for nineteen years and counting. As a Senior Vice President, Jen applies her deep knowledge and experience to model validations while assisting clients with any and all needs on a daily basis. In the interview below, Jen discusses her extensive background in banking and finance, breaks down the importance of a topic she has immense expertise in, and gives us a little behind-the-scenes look at some of the things she enjoys most outside of work.
Q: Can you tell me a little about yourself?
A: My name is Jen Gage and I am a Senior Vice President with MountainView Risk & Analytics. I live in Minnesota, based out of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. I started my career working on the retail side of a bank, but I didn’t love it. I definitely prefer the backroom operations and finance side of banking. Working on the retail side was a great learning experience, however, and I gained a lot of valuable knowledge of how banks run. I then transferred to a more general role encompassing finance, HR, and a little bit of everything for the data processing center of the bank I was working for. I did that for a couple of years, then I moved into the Treasury Department, which is where I got my feet wet in the asset and liability management (ALM) world. I ran the ALM model and supported ALCO before transitioning into budget and planning where I was a regional financial officer for a number of years until the bank was acquired.
It was then time for a change. So, I started contracting with McGuire Performance Solutions, working from home, to see how that would go. That was about nineteen years ago. So, I think I have the longest tenure within the McGuire, now MountainView Risk & Analytics, group. I worked part-time for many years and then as we transitioned into MVRA, I took on a more full time role.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your role at MVRA?
A: I enjoy working with the model users. I like trying to make their models better. I have been doing model validations for a long, long time as well as specialize in the data audit side of our deliverables. I feel that one weak spot in a lot of the models deals with data. Too often, that is set up at the beginning of model development or implementation and totally forgotten. As financial institutions evolve and balance sheets change, data needs also evolve. So, that’s where I focus a lot of my energy.
Q: What does your day-to-day look like at MVRA?
A: I spend most of my day quietly working on validations. I also spend a good amount of time answering client emails and phone calls. At the end of every project exit call, I encourage clients to reach out anytime, if they have questions or would like to discuss anything further – and I mean it! The consultative side of the job is most fulfilling.
Q: Why are validations so important?
A: Many business decisions are made based on model results. Accuracy and precision is very important so that decisions aren’t being made inadvertently or incorrectly based on poor inputs, assumptions, and output. It’s important that clients understand all aspects of their model. That is our key role, to consult and educate on what pieces are important within the model and how the clients can best improve their models.
Q: What trends do you see in this industry?
A: Our validations used to be much more focused on working with the model user. There is a lot more Internal Audit and Model Risk Management involvement now. I feel that ALM modeling is less used as a strategic tool by institutions and more focus is on regulatory requirements. There is not as much emphasis on what additional information the model can provide. I think that the best-run institutions still incorporate a lot of that into their daily use of their models though.
Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
A: I spend most of my time watching baseball. I have three sons who all play. Two play college baseball and my youngest son is on a national team. We live in Minnesota, so a lot of travel is required to extend the season. I will be gone a good bit of the spring, summer and fall traveling for baseball and enjoying the warmer weather the states to our south have to offer. We also spend any remaining time at our lake home, boating and enjoying the outdoors.
Q: Do you have any plans for 2022?
A: As far as work initiatives, I would like to continue to build out and enhance our data deliverables. Personally, I plan to spend more time with my family.
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