The Five Minute Interview with Andrew Lazare, CEO, Mint Bridging
Mint Bridging are a privately funded bridging lender and offer first charge bridging & rebridging loans on non-owner occupied residential and commercial properties with loans from £27,500 to £1,000,000+.
We speak to CEO, Andrew Lazare:
What is the best thing about being in the bridging finance business?
We see people whose lives have been shattered by 2007/2008 and on crash, this was a drastic time that the industry needed to be rebuilt with a new formula.
To this end when we come across very skilled developers who have had it tough, but without any doubt have vision and the ability to create projects that are viable: that is when we get a thrill. We can help them on the road to re-building and although they may out grow us at some stage, it’s like watching a child develop.
Simply we are helping people grow in wealth and self-esteem.
What keeps you focused?
Responsibilities. Not only do I have my wife and Libby (my amazing daughter) that keep me grounded but Mint’s team, the brokers we serve and all the associated partners & individuals who make bridging happen.
If we say were going to do something we need to deliver and I then orchestrate it.
Ultimately it’s our money since we’re a family business, so I am absolutely focused on securely lending short term bridging & rebridging loans, alongside managing the infrastructure and recouping our monies.
What qualities do you look for in your employees or colleagues?
Trust, hard work, straight talking and dedication are the core attributes we have at Mint within our team.
We need to trust the people we work with and let them take full ownership. It’s like a pilot of the plane who knows what needs to be done but can’t operate without a strong team who also take full responsibility in their own role. What is the use of investing in training and creating the core team if you cannot trust your people and then micro-manage, second guessing everything they do?
This industry is fast paced and we all need to work hard to keep ahead. My colleagues get this and even if they’re on a holiday break, they’re always in the loop. It’s not only about being on top of their role but also the team rallying together. Someone may see an attribute or red flag that others don’t. This is why the full team are always hands on and take pride in full involvement.
I would much rather deal with a problem head on, than someone procrastinate and not get to solve an issue or say that’s not ‘my job.’ We spend more time at work than at home and it can become fractious, simply because we’re a small team and no one sits on their laurels. We speak to people in the business constantly and we socialise regularly. I don’t like the “were one big family” phrase, but if there was a better way to describe exactly that, then it’s what we are.
Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
Is my glass half full or half empty? I am a half full man, but in any event you can always pour more into the glass. A problem is only a problem until it has been solved! As a team we can solve almost anything as we don’t believe in absolving responsibility. Realistic objectives and approaches, pushing the boundaries and stretching our limits are what make Mint Bridging tick.
What did you want to be as a child?
When I was a kid I always wanted to work in corporate finance. I was given this opportunity at Axiomlab Plc where we invested in early stage technology businesses and I learnt a lot about investment, advisory and high grow companies.
Two years later I founded a property company and took that public at 28 where I was the youngest person in the UK to float a company.
I also secretly wanted to be the Karate Kid and I still always back the underdog. I love the sentiment of Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams and I still believe that ‘if you build it, they will come!’
What will be the greatest challenge facing the bridging finance industry in the coming months?
Regulations. The introduction of MMR and other financial regulation is changing the landscape of the industry and many brokers are unaware of the changes that have been brought in, which means they need to conduct themselves in a different manner. Similarly, many smaller lenders that have come into the market are unaware of impending changes.
Who or what makes you laugh
Friends: the most brilliant TV programme that still feels current. Some of our application forms do make me belly laugh. The most amusing monthly laugh factor is my wife’s credit card bill. It’s hysterical and literally brings tears to my eyes!
Do you dread Monday mornings?
I never stop so the weekends are just a calendar day and each morphs into the next. I am one of those who enjoy working and do not find it a chore. Mondays are a good time to plan the week and the month, alongside reviewing the prior weeks. I don’t dread any days because you never know what can come. If you believe Monday’s are the surge days and Fridays are wind downs, then if you’re inundated on a Wednesday and Saturday, it plays havoc with your mental schedule of expectations, so days of the week are moot.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
A few areas: My hair and also be more like Paul Wertheim, our Operations Director. I’d also like to sleep less, Maggie Thatcher style. Whether you love or hate her, surviving on a few hours sleep would enable me to work unsociable hours so I can spend more time with my family & friends.
With whom would you most like to have dinner?
The intellect in me thinks this answer should be Leonardo da Vinci – scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, painter, sculptor, architect and musician. I would ask him how he juggled so many balls without dropping them. He is probably the most brilliant man in history. Yet a part of me would love to have dinner with Sylvester Stallone – but as Rocky – one of my all-time favourite films.