Customers First Inc. has come a long way since its inception as a business outsourcing company last September, with a wide variety of today's clients spread across the hedge fund community as well as the asset-backed and mortgage-backed markets.

Situated within the transactional business space, Customers First provides financial services for transactional financings, most of which are asset-backed and CDO transactions from underwriters including Credit Suisse First Boston, Deutsche Bank Securities, JPMorgan Securities and Morgan Stanley, among others, said CEO and Founder Wally Dahya. Customers First also provides public companies and registered funds with its financial services, including financial printing, typesetting, proofing, and Securities and Exchange Commission EDGAR filing services.

Dahya has been involved in the financial services industry for over 20 years and plans for the company to move forward with mortgage and asset-backed deals. "We want to become a specialist on the transactional side for financial printing with asset-backed, mortgage-backed, CDOs and corporate bonds," he said.

Prior to Customers First, Dahya headed mortgage finance at L.F. Rothschild & Co. before moving on to UBS Securities as head of the mortgage department.

Built on a unique platform, Customers First owns and operates a calling center and business process outsourcing facility out of Calcutta, with 320 employees offering 24-hour forms processing, document conversions, billings and collections, and customized process implementation and integration. The Calcutta facility is headed by Operations Manager, Nirmal Bagaria. "The call center work ranges from offering engineering support to an affiliate of Direct TV, to doing work for GE Medical, [and] McLane Foodservice," said Dahya. "Our work is very varied and is significantly growing."

As for the future, Dahya sees a very robust CDO and mortgage market. "Interest rates are helping significantly," said Dahya, noting the current ease in placing CDO paper, since investors are stretching for yield. "What we're seeing is a very interesting phenomenon - a flattening of the yield curve where the short-end rates are going up as a result of Federal Reserve tightening, but the 10-year treasury continues to rally," he said. The Federal Reserve is raising rates, but not with view of controlling inflation, said Dahya. "I think they're very worried about the weakening dollar."

Headquartered in New York, Customers First holds a 10,500 square foot facility, headed by Dahya, with just 15 employees where it conducts marketing, sales, management, and financial processing businesses. Spearheading the effort in New York are senior managing directors George Carfi, Bernard Farragher, Dan Simpson and Nafees Tejani.

Although the Calcutta office currently operates 320 seats, the company is forecasting growth of 1180 more in the next 18 months, said Dahya. "[If the growth occurs], we will need geographic diversification," he said. "We cannot have all of our execution assets in India." The company plans to look at the Philippines and/or South Africa for potential expansion.

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