A day with Richard Beenstock of Ortus Secured Finance

Yesterday, I got to spend a good chunk of my working day with the Managing Director of Ortus Secured Finance, Richard Beenstock....

Yesterday I got to spend a good chunk of my working day with Managing Director of Ortus Secured Finance, Richard Beenstock. Richard and I have met on several occasions at various industry roadshows, conferences, committees (and pubs). However, by inviting him along to effectively base himself on the bridging desk for the day, we really got the opportunity to see how our respective businesses operate.

In the ‘old days’ we might have called this a ‘lender day’, although this was much more informal. As one of the key decision makers at Ortus, Richard was on hand to share his expertise with our bridging team and talk through deals that may fit its lending criteria. Even those deals that didn’t fit, he was able to give a great insight in to why some deals are for them and others are not.

Since its launch in April 2013, Ortus quickly gained a reputation for being the specialist funder in the pub and leisure sector. I remember its stand at the NACFB Birmingham, which was set up as a mock pub bar (complete with working beer pumps and dartboard). (Some might argue that with my own experience of time spent in pubs, I am an expert on pubs too).

Ortus Secured Finance was founded by Richard and his fellow founders of Ortus Capital, an FCA authorised corporate finance boutique. Ortus Capital advised and arranged debt and invested equity in Red Oak Taverns in acquiring 32 freehold pubs out of administration in 2012.That, coupled with its first hand experience of pubs probably being bottom of most lender’s lists of ‘desirable’ security and with almost no interest from the main-stream lenders meant that they launched in to what they knew best. It is not surprising that it was perceived as the expert in this field, however, there is more to this lender than just being a pub specialist.

Chatting to Richard today, it was evident that as well as continuing to originate a good level of loans in the pub sector, it is also equally as adapt at funding all types of non-regulated bridging loans, including other types of commercial security and standard, non-regulated bridging deals for properties that require quick funding and/or renovation, prior to long term refinance or sale. It is also happy to lend on 2nd charge basis (for business use).  

Perhaps what I found most refreshing to hear from Richard, was that the firm does not want to take business from other bridging lenders, who already provide a good service. Richard spoke of his competition with respect and admiration, explaining that it was looking to offer something in addition to the proposition that exist for specialists distributors (such as Brightstar), the wider broker community and customers alike. This in itself was good to hear. Apart from actively lending in Scotland, (they are not alone here), Ortus has also recently made the very bold move to look at funding deals in Northern Ireland. As you would expect, it is at modest LTVs and at slightly higher rates to reflect the increased risk. That’s just sensible lending, when other lenders still see Northern Ireland as a “no go” zone for lending short term debt. Hats off to the guys for taking the lead here. I’ve no doubt that as is always the case, once other lenders realize that Northern Ireland is not Chernobyl, and that there are decent deals to be done, with decent take-out options available, other lenders will follow suit.

Another thing that it totally understands, is that not all short term deals will be in a position to redeem after 12 months, often because in the case of trading businesses, this just isn’t long enough to establish a decent set of trading figures. This is why it often looks to lend on terms of up to 18-24 months, without costly renewal fees or the threat of charging default interest rates.

All in all, we established that second to MT’s Tomer Aboody and Joshua Elash, Richard Beenstock might be one of the nicest blokes in bridging! (After me of course).

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