‘When I was young, I dreamed of being a pilot’

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Gili Cohen Avamore Capital

In our latest Five Minute Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to Gili Cohen, underwriter at Avamore Capital.

Avamore Capital is a principal development and bridging lender with a forward-thinking approach.

They are dedicated to providing outstanding service and understand that developer needs are consistently evolving.

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

I think anyone that is in this industry loves the pace at which everything moves.

As an underwriter, I have to be really prudent in my approach but that doesn’t mean slowly running through each point, it’s about being tenacious, commercial and agile in your thinking.

Being able to interact with the customer is what I really enjoy, it takes something from just being a case on your desk to a real-life project being led by a person who really believes in what they are doing.

The opportunity to provide the key to unlocking funding against innovative projects is what I love most.

What keeps you focused?

I have an underlying interest in property development, and I like to keep my eye on the market.

In my role, it’s important that I take a solution driven approach to deals; in doing this, I am in a good position to contribute views on how to adapt Avamore’s products so that they best suit the needs of borrowers today.

This opportunity to drive change is what keeps me focused and on the ball, particularly with a firm like Avamore, making impact is a tangible option.

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

I think when you’re in a smaller firm, you need to have a group of people that work well together and genuinely want to build a strong and successful business.

Generally, that culture of collaboration and hard work comes from the people within the company, it is rare that it can be dictated by leadership; if you have a group of motivated individuals, it means that you instantly create a pro-active work environment which I enjoy being part of.

I also like being around people that are able to challenge me; when you are pushed outside of your comfort zone, it means that you are naturally encouraged to develop and grow your skill set.

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

My job as an underwriter means that I must carefully assess risk; it’s in my nature to be ‘looking for problems’.

Having said that, it’s the investigatory side of things which I enjoy most, I always prepare myself for the worst so that I can limit the number of nasty surprises which pop up, but I will always hope for the best.

I think by that logic, it makes me an optimist.

What did you want to be as a child?

When I was young, I dreamed of being a pilot. This is probably due to travelling a lot as a child and I loved going to new places.

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

The property market has demonstrated its resilience across the past 16 months and prices have continued to rise.

Government led schemes such as the stamp duty reduction and the introduction of 95% LTV mortgages have been particularly helpful in ensuring that demand remains consistent.

Supply on the other hand has always been a challenge and this is likely to have intensified given fewer sites were reaching completion in the last year following multiple UK lockdowns.

Prices continue to rise and show no signs of slowing; this means that we could see an increase in the number of funding requests made by developers and seeking to take advantage of the value gain they may achieve by the time completion comes around, particularly in micro-locations.

It’s important that we continue to support developers and help them reach their goals but also, we need to remain prudent, particularly when the market is less stable.

We are still not clear of the COVID crisis, the threat of lockdowns and the consequences which come with them have the potential to de-rail any project and we have to be careful not to be too short sited when funding transactions.

Who or what makes you laugh?

My all-time favourite show is Friends, you can’t beat a classic!

Do you dread Monday mornings?

Definitely not, everyone needs a weekend break, but Mondays mark the start of a new week which means new opportunities.

Your Monday morning feeling is also so dependent on the environment you work in, the whole team here has the same energy and are always raring to go from the start of the week.

With that attitude, it’s hard not to ride the same wave.

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

I would love to be able to speak another language. I am conversational in a few but would like to be fluent.

With whom would you most like to have dinner?

I’d love to have dinner with Richard Branson. He’s accomplished so much in his life, and we could all learn a thing from such a great visionary.