Ron Hurd, who was an asset manager for AmerUs and conducting an annual audit of the LIHTC property where Aponte was working, told the new hire that he could help him get into tax-credit compliance work, if that was something he wanted to do.
After about a year, Aponte felt ready for the job, and Hurd circulated his resume within the industry. Among those he contacted on Aponte’s behalf was Pedro Vermales, of Reliance Management Services, who was looking for someone who’d worked in LIHTC compliance to build a department. He hired Aponte.
“I got wonderful experience pulling the compliance department together,” says Aponte. “He sent me to school for the HCCP, and I took the test and passed — all under Pedro.”
Education the Key to Success
Aponte says that industry education is vital. “I would tell any young person considering a job in multifamily management or tax credit compliance that they should take advantage of every educational opportunity that’s out there. NAHB’s education and certification programs — I have the Housing Credit Certified Professional designation — has been key to my success.”
Aponte says that when he hires people, he looks for the HCCP designation, and if he wants to hire someone who doesn’t have it, his company helps them get it. He also points out that the National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA) and its local chapters offer lots of educational opportunities.
“Don’t stop with one certification or designation,” he says. “Every one you have makes you that much more credible and employable. I find that the more education a staff has, the better they do. The ones that are hired who don’t have much education tend to burn out quickly.”
Learning the Tax Credit Program Well
He advises leasing and management professionals to learn what they can from the people they work with, and to pipe up and ask for training when they need it. Eagerness to learn is never a mistake, “and never pretend you know something if you don’t,” he adds.
Aponte says that the tax credit industry is very young, and that it offers considerable career potential in both asset management and compliance for those who learn the program and learn it well.
A few years after earning his HCCP, Aponte joined Cameo Management to help that company build a compliance department.
“The systems that I built at Reliance and Cameo for their portfolios have been recognized by the state agency as among the best,” he says. “Our procedures, policies and standards are models. Other companies flatter us by attempting to imitate our model.”
Aponte worked with Cameo’s Steve Jankowski to form Preferred Compliance Solutions. “Working with Steve helped me fine-tune my management skills and helped me grow in the job," he says.
Preferred Compliance remained a division of Cameo until last May, when the company decided it no longer wanted an investor interest in consulting and decided to spin it off, transferring the entire operation to Aponte, its principal.
So, in about 15 years Aponte has gone from sleeping in the car to running a successful compliance consulting service. “Call it lucky, call it blessed,” he says, “but I’m so glad I worked with people who valued education. That has opened the doors for me.”
Mark Your Calendar for NAHB's 2005 Pillars Conference
The 2005 Multifamily Pillars of the Industry Conference and Awards Gala is scheduled for April 4-6 at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami. For more information, click here.
The NAHB University of Housing Offers HCCP Designation
The NAHB University of Housing offers the Housing Credit Certified Professional (HCCP) designation, a specialized designation for developers, property managers, asset managers and others working in the affordable housing industry. Click here for more information.
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