The Five Minute Interview with Benson Hersch, CEO, the Association of Short Term Lenders

Benson Hersch astl
The function of the ASTL is to protect and promote the interests of its members and to give confidence to all parties who transact business with them. Our members abide by a strict code of conduct; they are typically bridging and secured loan companies who provide loans and mortgages for short terms usually of between six months and one year.

We speak to CEO, Benson Hersch:

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

The people – they are interesting, open and dynamic.  There’s more than enough business to go around, so people are happy to discuss things.

What keeps you focused?

My objective is to continue to make the bridging sector more professional and to promote responsible lending and high standards. I know that I need to keep the ASTL relevant and so I am always looking for fresh ideas.

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

I like people who focus on the job in hand and strive to learn and keep improving. Loyalty is important, as is integrity.

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

I class myself as an opti-pessimist. I expect things to be worse, but always hope that they will be better and I’m constantly receiving pleasant surprises.

There’s a story of two people who opened a restaurant – the optimist expected there to be so many customers that they would break the hinges off the doors. The pessimist worried about the cost of replacing the hinges. But both expected there to be many customers!

What did you want to be as a child?

An architect – I ended up doing accountancy and the closest I got was to be a partner in a consulting engineering practice.

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

In a word, “uncertainty”.

Political turbulence, the potential for new entrants to take too many risks, the probability of P2P failures and the volatility of the property market will all create uncertainty in the minds of lenders, investors and homeowners.

Who or what makes you laugh?

Political satire and good stand-up comedians.

Do you dread Monday mornings?

Aarrrgh!  First thing on Mondays I go to a trainer and get subjected to the latest torture he’s thought up.  After that, and a warm shower, I’m raring to go.  Then by Thursday I’m ready for my next dose of masochism.

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

I’d like to be more outgoing, more interesting and more positive.

With whom would you most like to have dinner?

I really enjoy having our ASTL member lunches. For dinner, I prefer to go to a fancy restaurant with my wife.

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