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Interviews with the Team – Sharon Bryden

Sharon has 20 years’ experience in asset-based lending, is ACIB qualified and has an MBA. She has considerable experience in asset-based lending and can manage a deal from end-to-end. She regularly meets clients, vets proposals, structures loans and drives deals across the line. Sharon sits on the board of directors and credit committee.

With Reparo since its inception, Sharon plays a pivotal role in the business and loves helping find solutions for clients.

Reparo Marketing Team (RMT): Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Sharon. You’ve got considerable experience – can you tell us about your career and what brought you to Reparo?

Sharon Bryden (SB): I started my career at Barclays and worked across many different functions in the bank. After nine years I joined Euro Sales Invoice Financing and then worked for a number of companies in that sector. After spending time in a corporate environment, I decided to step into a new business where I could help develop it from the beginning and get involved in the whole deal process.

The skills I’d developed in my career were really useful. I’m comfortable managing a large number of clients, working on risk management while at the same time relating to clients and their problems.

RMT: Can you describe your role in Reparo in more detail?

SB: My official title is Operations Director – in practice, this covers a range of activities. I work at all stages in the lending process, from origination and initial vetting through to final lending decisions.

In my role I spend a lot of time getting deals across the line. We’re a very customer orientated business, and I take personal responsibility to make sure we get deals done in the required timeframe.

RMT: Can you tell us a bit more about how Reparo structures deals?

We place a heavy focus on the customers. Every deal is different, and we’ll always look for a way to help. We take the time to understand every customer’s situation – sometimes this means thinking outside the box to get a deal structured in a way that works for the client. For example, in certain circumstances, we can structure repayments as interest only. We always the take the time to understand the business and meet the client face to face.

We can’t say yes to every deal, and if a borrower isn’t in a position to afford the loan, we tell them quickly, but, we will look beyond the superficial information to assess an application.

RMT: Building relationships with clients is very important to Reparo – can you tell me more about this from your perspective?

SB: One of the things I love about working at Reparo is that we build real relationships with our clients. We get to meet a wide range of businesses and look at how we can help them: it’s very rewarding.  

We very often have businesses coming back to us, and a high proportion of our business is through referrals. I think that’s because we listen, try to be helpful and we’re always straight with a business: if we can’t do a deal we tell them quickly so they’re not wasting any time.

RMT: From your experience, how does Reparo’s approach differ from the larger lenders?

SB: SMEs generally get overlooked by the banks; the banks’ business model is to minimise risk and complete a lot of deals. They do this by putting a standardised process in place and sticking to it pretty rigidly. SME’s typically have a wide range of circumstances, and these often don’t fit into a bank’s lending criteria.

For example, banks will look at filed accounts and make lending decisions based on those figures, whereas we’ll take the time to look at recent financial performance and use that data in our vetting process. So, if a business has been performing well recently, we’ll pick that up and include it in our vetting process.

Another example is that banks will often have strict criteria on how old a business needs to be, whereas we will look at the owners of new businesses and consider other factors like past businesses and their asset base.

As a final point, banks generally take a long time to process loan applications – often months rather than weeks. Because we work closely as a team and our credit committee has access to people making the loans we can complete deals in short timeframes. This is important for our clients because they often need a cash injection quickly.

RMT: Finally, how do you see the future of commercial lending?

I think there is a good chance that regulation will tighten up in the lending space. If it does this will suit Reparo; we’re set up with a high-level compliance and regulatory framework. Although we’re unregulated, we behave as though we are regulated with high-quality policies in areas like anti-money laundering and KYC. We also place a big importance on treating customers fairly, and we’ve made sure our terms are transparent, clear and ethical.

Having set such a high standard, if regulation tightens we’ll be well ahead of the curve.

To discuss a loan between £10,000 and £1m, please get in touch with Andrew, or one of the team on aw@reparofinance.co.uk or 0161 451 5714. You can find out more about us on our website:   www.reparofinance.co.uk

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