10 Questions With... Simon Ismail, of Goldentree Financial Services

10 Questions With... Simon Ismail, of Goldentree Financial Services



From Bryon Bay to Lord Byron, playing guitar, pandas and that bird off Countdown...


1. When did you start working at Goldentree and where were you before that?

What year we in?

B&C: 2010

Right. What month we in?

B&C: September

Right, hang on... six months.

Before Goldentree I was at Excel Securities, I was the sales director there. I’ve been in financial services for eight years, before that I lived in Marbella and ran a brokerage in England.

2. What did you want to be when you were little?

I was never little; I’ve been big all my life... No, ok, I wanted to be a footballer.

B&C: And what about when you were a teenager?

Well I was a hippy then, I had long hair and played guitar in a band called Winston... we made a tape.

B&C: Stifles giggles what went wrong?

Age happened, and then financial services.

3. What would you be doing now if you weren’t at Goldentree?

I would definitely be working with people, and I’d definitely be in sales. Ice to the Eskimos, sand to the Arabs me...

4. What’s the best and worst thing about your job?

The thing is the potential; it’s a brand new set up, we’ve started on a fresh loan book, we’re making a business grow. And because we’re dealing with Fred Donne’s personal cash, we don’t have to deal with the banks anymore, and in this current climate that’s a god send.

And then there are the colleagues too, I better say that I suppose. 

The worst thing is when you put all your hard work, every little bit of strength, everything – your life and soul – into a deal and then in the eleventh hour, seconds before the funds are transferred, you discover something a borrower’s withheld... That is the worst thing.

5. What trends have you noticed within the bridging industry over the last 12 months?

Well people are bruised now, people are battered and bruised. So we need to remember what bridging is about, what it’s there for. It’s quick finance, it’s about bricks and mortar, lending against property, credit shouldn’t really come into it. Unfortunately, you do have to look closer at credit checks now because refinancing is so more much harder for the borrower, and you don’t want to repossess. But this slows the whole process down, yet if you do it the other way round, and only lend on security, you’re seen as a pawnbroker.

6. What trends do you predict within the industry over the next 12 months?

I don’t think much will change... a couple more long term lenders like Aldermore and Lancashire [Mortgage Corporation] might come into the market, but I don’t think you’ll see much difference overall. And I don’t think things are that bad now, things are good. I’m not into doom and gloom...

7. Who do you fancy off the telly?

Her off Countdown – you know, the one who replaced Vordeman.

B&C: When do you watch Countdown, it’s on at 5 o’clock isn’t?

Every now and then the kids record it and I catch it.

B&C: Your kids record Countdown?

Or it might be the enemy.

B&C: Sorry, who?

The enemy, that’s what I call my wife – and you can print that too.

B&C: Hmm... Right, anyone else you like?

The bird off Total Wipeout.

B&C: What?

You’ve not seen Total Wipeout? It’s on Saturday nights, it’s an extreme game show, like the Krypton Factor.

B&C: Like the Crystal Maze?  

It’s much better than the Crystal Maze, anyway that bird what she called? Hang on...

Simon googles Total Wipeout.

Amanda Byram, that’s her.

8. What’s your favourite film and book?

Life of Brian it’s got to be hasn’t it. Favourite book? I’ve got hundreds of favourite books, I don’t know...

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel probably. I really like Yann Martel – but don’t print that whatever you do.  

9. What would you put in Room 101?

Pandas. We spend millions of pounds on pandas and they don’t do anything, do they? We do so much for them, but you put a male panda in a cage and then a female panda and they don’t even talk to each other, let alone have a go. You put me in a cage and after a couple of weeks I’d have a go at anything...

10. If you could have a super power for one day what would it be and why?

To fly, it’s got to be – for the obvious reasons. I’d fly to Byron Bay in Australia, I loved that place, I loved it so much I named my son Byron, (though depending on the company I’m in, sometimes he‘s named after Lord Byron, the poet).

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