‘We’re accountable, we know it and we make decisions quickly’

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Sultan Choudhury Offa

Offa Alternative Ethical finance is the first bridging finance provider in the UK real estate market to offer financial products designed in accordance with recognised universal Islamic and ethical financing principles.

In our latest Five Minute Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to chairman, Sultan Choudhury.

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

Speed of service. The bridging finance business is refreshing in that you use all your accumulated experience together with your management team to make a call on a deal there and then, and immediately proceed to execution.

We’re accountable, we know it and we make decisions quickly. Other financial services business’s possibly with the exception of fintech are simply not like that.

What keeps you focused?

Building new ventures requires focus – the satisfaction that you get from creating something fresh and pioneering keeps the goal in mind and therefore the focus.

Staying fit and healthy and having plenty of variety in work definitely helps!

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

I have to admit – I find it hard to work with naysayers.

I have never had issues with different views or constructive criticism and feedback – but you know people who are endemically negative when you meet them.

One of my missions is to stay clear of them.

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

I think it is pretty clear I am an optimist.

Venture building and entrepreneurship requires problem solving, navigating obstacles and a heavy dose of positivity.

What did you want to be as a child?

Funnily enough it was to run my own business and be a CEO!

I was always the child running the Bank when we played monopoly.

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

Our fortunes rise and fall on the back of the real estate market and the availability of funding.

I still see that we are a few years away from real inflation coming back – so bond yields will remain low and therefore the availability of debt funding for bridge finance providers will continue.

That leaves the real estate market – generally whilst residential based real estate will hold up, commercial office and retail properties will be problematic for a few years.

As an industry we need to find ways to safely engage in the commercial real estate sector and convince credit line providers to back it.

With the emergence of town and city centre office conversions and re-purposing of the “high street”  – Bridge financiers are well placed to support this trend if we are up to the challenge.

Who or what makes you laugh?

Some of our politicians! I’m not going to reveal who as I don’t want to pin my colours to any political mast.

Suffice it to say that politicians on all sides of the divide leave me quite bemused sometimes to the point where I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

There are honorable exceptions but a dose of good business common sense would help a lot of them.

Do you dread Monday mornings?

Never really get that feeling – every day is different and interesting.

With home working the distinction between Mondays and other days has fast dwindled in any case.

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

Standard interview response – I need to develop a little more patience!

I can tend to go along with someone for a while but there is a point where I can’t tolerate nonsense anymore and then I snap a little.

Thankfully doesn’t happen very often – just working on controlling it.  It’s what people mean by not “suffering fools gladly” – in life you need to find ways to actually suffer them patiently!

With whom would you most like to have dinner?

Right now – it would be Prince Harry.  I’d like to find out what has made him take the brave decisions he has made in his life recently.

Would he have handled things differently to achieve a different outcome?  It would be interesting to get the inside track.