Enthusiasm, pragmatism and seeing the bigger picture

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Henry Fisher Fiduciam

In our latest Five Minute Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to Henry Fisher, portfolio manager UK at Fiduciam.

Fiduciam is an institutionally funded marketplace lender. It provides short-term loans secured over real estate in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Sweden, from £250k to £25m, for loan terms of six months to three years, both in pound sterling and in euro.

With its flexible, efficient and competitive approach to lending it helps small and medium sized businesses grow and prosper.

What is the best thing about being in the bridging and development finance business?

The knowledge that we, as alternative lenders, play a critical role in the short-term debt markets and, by extension, the economy as a whole.

This has been exemplified by our company’s previous involvement in the CBILS scheme, providing a vital source of credit to SMEs during the pandemic.

This sense of duty, coupled with the urgency inherent in bridging’s fast-paced nature, provide true satisfaction upon the quick turnarounds for our clients.

What keeps you focused?

Our clients value speed with respect to reviewing of and responding to credit proposals of various natures and ticket sizes.

Hence, this appreciation of the importance of responding quickly and decisively acts as motivation to ensure the team is on hand to provide a service our clients deserve.

This need for quick turnaround times also applies to drawdowns on existing facilities; we understand the difficulties our borrowers face in retaining labour on site and maintaining strong relationships with their material providers.

What qualities do you look for in your employees or colleagues?

Enthusiasm – those who truly invest themselves in their work, striving to obtain a greater understanding of the finer details, synonymous with individual tasks or deals, and their role in the company’s overall performance – the bigger picture.

Pragmatism – those who actively and independently seek practical solutions to the various challenges that arise.

Outcome driven – it is important to remain focused on company and personal target outcomes.

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

Cautious optimist. Hope for the best but always plan for the worst.

What did you want to be as a child?

A competitive sportsman – and within a team environment. A box-to-box midfielder, someone who could read and control the pace of a match.

I think back to the dominant figures such as Patrick Viera and Zinedine Zidane who imposed themselves on the game, carrying a real presence and earning the respect of their team.

What will be the greatest challenge facing the bridging and development finance industry in the coming months?

First, looking at the bridging side, extraordinary levels of central bank monetary stimulus have flooded markets with liquidity, pushing down interest rates and presenting attractive financing options to borrowers.

Yet I am conscious of a vulnerability for some businesses to an uncertain UK macroeconomic outlook and future base rate rises in an attempt to combat inflation.

Inflation is extremely present in the real estate development market and, given its supply-driven and consequently opaque nature, may prove hard to tame by future monetary tightening.

Given the persistently increasing materials costs and scarce labour, suitable contingency levels are critical to prevent future capital shortfalls or delays on site.

Whilst increased input costs have seemingly been transferred to property buyers in a buoyant market, a potential pullback in the economy may place considerable pressure on developers’ margins.

We are looking closely at our client’s margins with implied returns on total capital invested and “cash on cash” returns serving as valuable sense-checks for both purchase prices and GDVs.

Who or what makes you laugh?

My colleagues. I find myself very fortunate to be part of a team that can be both focused on the tasks at hand whilst also able to joke about the lighter subjects in life.

Do you dread Monday mornings?

Far from it, I am lucky to enjoy both my role and the environment in which I work.

I’d generally call myself a morning person and like to exercise and study before work, placing myself in a healthy state of mind before the start of a busy day.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Self-confidence. I often understand more about a problem than I admit and should have more conviction in my actions and take control of a situation.

I hope this will come with experience in the industry and already feel that I have gained so much exposure from my current role at Fiduciam.

With whom would you most like to have dinner?

Arsene Wenger: He helped professionalise football and arguably accelerated the game to where it is today.

I admire his ability, and also braveness, to incorporate an almost scientific approach to the English game that, at the time, was at a crossroads.

I would love to hear some of the behind-the-scenes stories from his time both at Arsenal and in football in general.