Century aims to scale business by highlighting diverse offering to brokers

Century aims to scale business by highlighting diverse offering to brokers

After joining Century Capital as sales director in April, Gary Clark (pictured above) spoke with B&C about why experience and a strong reputation is vital for a bridging lender, and how he aims to support the company in scaling up.

Experience is key

Gary previously spent 11 years at LendInvest, in addition to roles at NatWest and Citibank. He has known Century Capital’s CEO and founder Paul Munford for 20 years and felt that his experience within the market and personal traits would gel well with Paul and the business.

“We're both pretty strong-minded individuals,” Gary said, “Ultimately, we're pretty sensible and business orientated… we're both looking for success.

“I think anybody involved in the bridging arena has to be pretty tenacious — they've got to accept that it's a very competitive environment, certainly in the past few years. To succeed, you need to understand the marketplace you're in and [not] give up on a whim.”
It is clear that the number of lenders in the market has grown over the years, and it is to Gary’s surprise how easy it is for a small operation to gain a credit line in the multi-million-pound mark.

However, for Gary, a company’s reputation in the industry goes a long way.

“You want some sort of historic base of that company to have a proven track record; we've got a proven track record of 12 years.”

When it comes to individual experience, Gary feels that what really counts is longevity at a company, rather than stints across a range of organisations.

“I've always found the people within this [market] are, dare I say, very good at jumping from company to company to company, and you look at their CV and they've worked for 10 companies in a 10-year period. To me, that doesn't show experience.”

Scaling the business

Gary’s main focus right now is on getting the word out to brokers on what Century can offer.

After conducting a marketing survey with its brokers, Century realised that it needed to better portray the full variety of products it has to offer.

“What we're most recognised for — historically and currently — and what we're most proud of [is providing] very large loans in central prime London,” explained Gary. “However, that's not all we do, we have a far wider reach.
“We want to scale the company,” Gary stated, noting that the lender wants to display its other products —  such as second charges — to the broker community.

“We offer second charges, which I think it's fair to say a lot of bridging companies don't… what we found [with our survey results is that] we get a lot of repeat business off the back of that.”

The growing company has seen a 50% uplift in its employee count over the past 12 months, with key strategic hires including a sales director and chief technology officer.

Century is also soon to announce a new head of lending and will be moving to a new office double the size of its last premises to offer capacity for further growth.
It’s not all about prime central London

While Gary expects the prime central London market will continue to remain strong, due to it being its own microclimate, he said that Century will be expanding further into the home counties and areas surrounding London, such as Surrey and Kent.

“We've got a very broad base and we're very well-funded; liquidity within the company is very good,” said Gary. The lender has several institutional debt lines.

“We have the means and a proven track record; we're not a new entrant to the market.”


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