We sit down with Reparo Managing Director Andrew Ward to hear how Reparo has built such an outstanding reputation in the competitive commercial lending space. We’ll cover Andrew’s background, how Reparo offers value to its clients, and his views on the future of business lending.
Reparo Marketing Team (RMT): Hi Andrew, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us. I’d like to start by hearing a little about your background, how did your career lead you to this point as MD of Reparo?
Andrew Ward (AW): After completing an Economics degree I spent many years working in corporate lending with a number of lenders including Rothschild, Crédit Agricole and Lloyds TSB. This gave me an incredible grounding in lending to businesses of all different types. Over the years corporate lending changed; it became less about the merits of an individual case and more about ticking boxes.
Lending became less personalised and less flexible. This led to lots of businesses being overlooked for credit because they didn’t fit into rigid criteria. While I understood why the larger lenders were going down this route, I saw a huge gap in the market for lending aimed at businesses that don’t quite fit the profile of the traditional lenders, or have circumstances where they need capital in a timeframe that larger lenders can’t accommodate.
RMT: You mention the traditional lenders became less personalised and less flexible, can you tell me more about their approach?
AW: I’d say there were three key areas I noticed: first, they were generally inflexible, so if a loan applicant didn’t fit the profile they would reject it without a more detailed investigation. Second, the application process was time-consuming, and a considerable administrative burden for the applicant. Finally, a lot of the lending decisions were made at corporate HQ, so there was little scope for applicants to meet a lender and explain their specific circumstances.
RMT: How had the approach by larger lenders affected businesses?
AW: During my 25-year career I’ve visited over 3,000 businesses that needed financing, and I regularly hear the same comment: “We want to get on with supplying our product (or service) in the best way we can”. They need support services including financing to be simple and efficient. During my career the opposite has happened: the process of financing with larger lenders has become more time consuming, impersonal and unpredictable. This has led to businesses not getting the financing they need and in many cases seriously damaged them.
RMT: You’ve been influential in growing Reparo and delivering a service that businesses appreciate. Could you summarise for me how Reparo is different from the larger lenders?
AW: Our core value proposition is very simple: we provide certainty, flexibility and personalised service. Certainty is provided by responding quickly – we are owner managers like our clients and make our own quick decisions. Flexibility is provided by looking at each case on its own merits instead of having a ‘tick box’ ethos to lending. Our service is highly personalised by providing our clients with direct access to a client manager and director at all times.
RMT: Do Reparo’s clients fit a certain type of profile?
AW: One of the things I love about working at Reparo is our breadth of clients. We work with businesses from a range of sectors and sizes. There is a common thread that runs through the loans that we provide – a time-critical need for financing. This need can arise for a huge range of reasons from growth opportunities to more precarious situations.
Our clients feel comfortable picking up the phone to us because they know we’ll act fast and we’ll listen carefully to their exact situation before making a lending decision. We can work a lot faster than banks because we have a client manager speaking to the business and reviewing the case straight away. It’s transparent, it’s simple, and our clients appreciate it.
RMT: Can you give me some examples of loans Reparo has provided recently?
AW: We’ve recently worked with an entrepreneur that had an opportunity to make a property investment. The deal wasn’t available for very long, so he needed to act quickly. We were able to make a swift assessment of the deal and his financial circumstances. The deal quickly passed through our vetting process and was completed within the short time window available.
In another case we worked with a farmer who had unforeseen cash flow issues arising due to medical issues with his flock. We were quickly able to put lending in place based on the land he was able to offer as security.
In both cases, one of our team visited the business in a short time frame to make sure that the deal was progressed quickly.
RMT: Reparo place considerable importance on treating customers fairly. Could you explain some of the steps you take to ensure this happens?
AW: First, we make our documentation simple, as we know that business people don’t want to spend ages trawling through legalese, and we’re proud that our documents are regularly described as a “breath of fresh air”. Second, we only lend if the business can afford it. Third, we stipulate that lenders take independent legal advice. Fourth, we are very flexible with repayment structures, and there are no early repayment penalties. Finally, we operate in an unregulated environment but we opt-in to regulations to make sure we are as fair and transparent as possible.
RMT: Finally, how do you see the commercial lending market evolving over the coming years?
AW: We’re in uncertain times, not least with the Brexit process being undecided. Small businesses will shortly be able to access the Financial Ombudsman which will put more onus on lenders and brokers to be more transparent. From the beginning, we’ve set Reparo up to provide a fair and flexible lending process so businesses that have a good case for a loan will find a simple process with us. If the economy worsens, I expect businesses may find capital harder to find at traditional lenders – these businesses should get in touch.
To discuss a loan between £10,000 and £1m, please get in touch with Andrew, or one of the team on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0161 451 5714.
You can find out more about us on our website: www.reparofinance.co.uk