The Five Minute Interview with Tal Orly, CEO, Cogress

Tal Orly Cogress

Cogress is an open equity company for property, striving to make investment accessible and transparent. It offers rigorously screened opportunities for a range of investors – built on proven industry expertise – with profits shared on exit. The firm carefully vets and matches all property developers and investors, aiming to give peace of mind to participants on both sides.

We speak to CEO, Tal Orly:

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

Having been a property developer in the UK for 20+ years, working in property finance has allowed me to indulge my passion for property on a far vaster scale than I ever imagined. Whilst I used to look at 4 – 5 deals / year, the team at Cogress now see between 5 – 10 deals a week ultimately underwriting 2 – 3 / month. Along with the team, I get to investigate the nuts and bolts of each utilising my experience to finding angles that make deals work both for the developer and our investors.

What keeps you focused?

When you are responsible for millions of pounds of investors’ funds, it is very easy to stay focussed. Whilst the UK property market is very mature, recent political and economic revolutions have really cause seismic shifts. The fear that we are not informed and will therefore miss an opportunity to either reduce risk or improve investor return keeps me up at night. I know most of the management team feel the same.

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

We have a very flat hierarchy at Cogress and operate like a family. I look for employees of all different backgrounds that aren’t afraid to walk into my office and challenge me. I like to work to the mantra that no question is too stupid, and no decision is too final to be re-examined.

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

I consider myself to be an optimist however I force myself to be a pessimist when working with the analyst team to appraise investment opportunities. We are always looking to understand the potential risks and downsides so that we can work with our developers to mitigate them.

What did you want to be as a child?

As a child, I always wanted to be a pilot however I found myself at 21 qualifying as a lawyer. It wasn’t long before the opportunities in the property market sucked me in and I’ve never looked back. The funny thing is that now-a-days I really don’t like to fly at all despite previously traveling weekly to the US.

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

Low borrowing rates driving up purchase prices coupled with ever increasing development costs have been making opportunities less and less profitable. When you consider

that the UK sales market is the most challenging that I’ve seen in my 20 years of development the greatest risk is ensuring you building a saleable and desirable product.

Who or what makes you laugh?

I’m in the very fortunate position of having two wonderful children aged 10 and 7. They constantly fill my life with fun, love and laughter and there isn’t a day that goes by without a ridiculous story to tell regarding their lives.

Do you dread Monday mornings?

Not being from the UK does sometimes make getting out of bed on a freezing Monday morning challenging, but I’m fortunate that I love my job and am privileged to have built a business with colleagues who feel more like friends than employees. I start the week by leading an all hands meeting so by the time I walk through the door any frozen bones need to be well and truly warmed up.

With whom would you most like to have dinner?

With family and friends. As crazy as dinner times may be in our household with the visitors popping in constantly – I always love listening to how the kid’s days have been and what’s new in my friends’ lives.

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