The Five Minute Interview with Nick Neophytou, co-Managing Director, Mantra Capital
Mantra Capital is a client-centric financial consultancy firm whose senior team, coming from a banking background, understand how high street and challenger banks operate, what they look for in a borrower and the various metrics they work towards. Its informal company mantra is “Bankers acting for you”.
We speak to co-Managing Director, Nick Neophytou:
What is the best thing about being in the bridging and development finance business?
Each and every client you work with has completely different requirements and circumstances, often with new challenges to overcome – so that keeps you on your toes all the time. It’s also very satisfying to connect borrowers with the correct funder in what is an increasingly saturated marketplace comprising challenger banks, high street banks and specialist lenders. With the housing crisis triggering no end of entrepreneurial activity among funders and developers alike, the bridging and development market are particularly active so you’re always busy and there’s never a dull day.
What keeps you focused?
We’re a close-knit team with a lot of ambition and have set ourselves some big targets, which keep your mind on the job. I’m also lucky to be in a career that I love and that means you’re focused by default. It’s also worth mentioning that all the team here left good careers in banking on an upward trajectory because they believe in Mantra. In that sense, I’m keen to repay them, which is another factor that keeps me focused.
What qualities do you look for in your employees or colleagues?
You want to work with people who are as engaged in the business and broader sector as you are and who will step up to the plate when activity levels crescendo (which right now is most of the time!). Equally, we like people who are entrepreneurial and driven and who don’t need to be told to what to do but just get on with it. A good sense of humour never hurts, either. If you can’t have a laugh at work, something’s fundamentally wrong.
Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
Neither. I’m a realist.
What did you want to be as a child?
A professional footballer of course, but my Dad told me (as delicately as he could) to be realistic. As a young teenager, I wanted to be a drummer in an R&B Soul band!
What will be the greatest challenge facing the bridging and development finance industry in the coming months?
There’s no shortage of lenders keen to get money into the market and plenty of innovative new developers that want to build. The biggest challenge, as ever, remains in the overly bureaucratic planning process. We need to build more homes as a nation but planning departments all too often put a stick in the spokes. If a planning process in some instances can take longer than the actual project will to build and sell, that’s simply not sustainable.
Who or what makes you laugh?
My daughter Elysia – 15 months old and I find her hilarious.
Do you dread Monday mornings?
Not at all, the opposite in fact. I love what I do.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Sometimes I wish I could throw caution to the wind a little more. Saying that, I’m a thinker and a planner, which lends itself to my profession well, I guess.
With whom would you most like to have dinner?
I’d love to say someone really interesting and of historical significance, such as Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Mohammed Ali or Archbishop Makarios, but the truth is we have a 15-month old and a 1-month old at home. In other words, as long as the dinner is hot and I get to finish it without having to fetch a Farley’s rusk, some milk, a dummy, Minnie Mouse or a fresh nappy, I couldn’t care less who is sitting opposite me!