“Our company’s connection with Scotland goes back a long way”


Glasgow view

A new office and an expanded team shows Ortus Secured Finance’s commitment to its Scottish business.

Colin Anderson sounds as excited as any of his customers as he helps puts the finishing touches to Ortus Secured Finance’s new Glasgow office.

“I’ve been in property finance for four decades and I’ve never had to organise a move of office before. It’s another one for the to-do list but it’s been exciting.

We got the keys at the end of June and after a little bit of decoration and a fit out we have been working from the new office since the middle of October,” says the man who has headed up Ortus’s Scottish division since October 2018.

The move sees Ortus transition from a serviced to a leased office in the city and marks continued growth in its Scottish offering and ambitions.

“I began working by myself from home in 2018 but we moved into the serviced office back in July 2020 when Andy Thomson joined the team as a Credit Manager,” explains Anderson.

“It was during the pandemic, but we felt that an office environment would be best to welcome Andy into the team and have that face-to-face interaction and collaboration.

During this period, we also saw the arrival of our third team member, Chris Pallis who joined us as a Business Development Manager in March this year. And the start of November sees another new start with Louise Haddow joining as a Business Support Officer.”

Anderson explains that the new office and both new appointments are a sign of Ortus’s deep commitment to the Scottish bridging market.

“Our company’s connection with Scotland goes back a long way. In fact, one of the first deals the group ever did was up here,” he explains.

“It has always been a market we have been interested in and positive about. There is a high-quality professional community here and as such there is a huge opportunity for lenders in this market.

We have demonstrated with our Belfast office that one of our key principles is committing to a market that we believe in. So, essentially, we are mirroring the approach we have taken in Northern Ireland. I believe that Scotland could be a very substantial part of Ortus going forward in keeping with the size of our market.”

Anderson says to date, although seeing strong lending volumes, the Scotland office has been more ‘reactive’ than pro in the last four years.

“We are getting a good number of deals and the quality we get both in terms of the borrowers, the brokers and the professional participants has always been high,” he says.

“The deals coming out of Scotland are no different from Manchester, Birmingham, the Northeast and the South.

Obviously, the scale of residential transactions in London is incomparable with Scotland with flats over the river Thames but the sectors are the same. It is office, hotels, leisure, residential and industrial. It is a wide range with no one specific product.”

He says he does not expect this to change although he is keen for Ortus to ramp up the marketing of its ‘highly competitive residential offering’ to brokers in Scotland.

“We want to make them aware that there is an opportunity there,” he says. “We also see potential in more warehousing deals as there is a hot market combination of a lack of supply and high demand.

Also, a lot of businesses are looking for storage space so again the industrial market is of growing interest. But our rivals are also keen on these areas as well.”

He sees Pallis’s experience and contacts in the broker community in Scotland starting to make a difference.

“We can be a little bit more aggressive in our approach with a dedicated sales professional as good as Chris. There should be further opportunities for us,”  Anderson says.

“We will focus initially on brokers in the Central Belt as well as Perthshire and Tayside that we already know, however we want to speak with introducers across Scotland.”

Anderson doesn’t rule out the possibility of adding to the team in Scotland. “In Belfast we recruited locally and in the space of three years it now has a team of 5. There should be no difference in Scotland. We should be aiming for that as well, but maybe once Chris and Louise have had a chance to settle in” he says.

Anderson is already well settled in the industry given his 40 years of banking experience all up in Scotland. After leaving school he joined Clydesdale Bank.

He was there for 27 years initially on the retail side and then the remainder in the business and commercial division and as a relationship manager with a portfolio of SME customers, the majority of which were involved in real estate.

“I then had a three-year stint with the Bank of Ireland in a specialist real estate role and then the same with Santander before joining Ortus,” he explains.

“Over that time, I saw banks, occasionally, lending to individuals in locations that they didn’t know well enough or did not fully understand the market. Thanks to my long experience in Scotland meeting all kinds of businesses across the regions I have got a feel for the place.

I know instinctively the businesses and sectors you want to lend in to and those you need to take a little bit more time over when making a decision.”

He says the tight-knit Scottish finance sector helps in this regard. “It is a little bit like Northern Ireland where most people involved in the property sector knows or knows of everybody else and that includes the good and the bad,” he explains.

“The relationships I have built up over the years with customers and property agents has paid off during my time at Ortus. Off the back of that we have had a few deals.

There is a difference between being a high street lender and a Bridger but there is also some overlap. Maybe a customer doesn’t want to use all of their capital in a deal so there is an opportunity cost in having a bridging loan solution on a short-term basis. It allows them to deploy their capital wider.”

Anderson says it is all about the quality of the deal. “Again, given my banking background it is just as important to get the money back in as it is getting it out of the door,” he states. “But we also want to do more to get the Ortus name itself out there as well to a greater extent in Scotland.

It is about speaking to people, telling them about our offering and demonstrating what we can do. We have significant goals here.”