Christian Faes and Andrew Robinson

Are fintech companies more valuable than bridging lenders?

In Arc & Co’s latest podcast, LendInvest’s co-founder and executive chairman Christian Faes (pictured above, right) discussed it’s first-ever deal with Arc & Co, how Montello Bridging Finance turned into LendInvest, and why fintech businesses may be more valuable than lenders.

Andrew Robinson, CEO at brokerage Arc & Co (pictured above, left), asked Christian whether LendInvest — the platform for property finance — described itself as a fintech business because of the way it raised capital.

“The flippant answer is fintechs are more valuable than lenders,” he said.

During the early, Montello stage of its business, Christian and Ian Thomas (co-founder and chief investment officer) were looking at bridging companies: “If you build a small- to medium-sized bridging business, it can be a good business,” Christian stated, noting that you can make a decent return.

“But they don’t really sell for much,” he claimed, “so, I think the perception from an outside investor is that those businesses maybe don’t have a huge amount of value."

The lender then started looking at fintech companies and realised that the value was connected to the tech they had built, and therefore decided to make this part of their business.

“Fast forward to now, [and] a third of our headcount are engineers,” he explained.

“I think our commitment to building technology is real — we’ve definitely put our money where our mouth is and invested a lot in that.”

Andrew asked Christian why he considers a fintech to be valued higher than a normal lender.

“70-odd engineers in our business are building very interesting tools and they allow us to assess credit in an interesting way,” which he explained enabled experienced underwriters to make quicker decisions with less people. 

“We’ve got 200 people in the business, but we’re lending over £1bn a year, and a lot of other lenders doing that [will] have considerably larger headcounts.”

He claimed that in five to 10 years, LendInvest will be doing “huge volumes” despite not necessarily having an exponential growth in staff.

“I think it’s something that pays off in time.”

The full podcast is available on Apple Podcasts for iOS users and Spotify.

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