10 Questions with Stewart Barnes of Portman Finance

10 Questions with Stewart Barnes of Portman Finance


A Spurs fan who would like to teleport away from bad drivers but is looking forward to the bridging road ahead...Jason McGee-Abe spoke to Stewart Barnes, Director at Portman Finance...

B&C: How long have you been in the industry and how did you get to where you are now?

SB: Unbelievably it has now been nearly 7 years. I am not quite sure where the time has gone. I was originally ‘born and bred’ in banking, starting my banking career in Barclays working in a Branch and ended up a Director of a Private Bank in the City.

It was as a result of a random conversation that I had with my client that led to us jointly setting up Portman Finance in 2005 and I have never looked back.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

A scientist! I have no idea why as I am actually dreadful at all sciences. I think I liked the idea of working in a laboratory with lots of gadgets.

What do you think are the biggest problems in bridging at the moment?

For me, there are two issues. First, it is the speculation of regulation. Will they, won’t they, how much and when. It is all so very much up in the air at the moment, which for us as a non regulated lender is a little unsettling.

The second issue is the mass influx of amateur lenders we are seeing entering the market place. The barriers to entry are low and people believe that bridging is simple and an easy way to make money. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for competition in the market place, but some of the inexperienced new entrants h ave the potential to give the sector a bad name.

Which sports team do you support, if any, and why?

Spurs. Both my Dad and Grandfather supported them, so I guess it runs in the blood. I am delighted to see them doing so well. I guess we need to enjoy it while we can before Harry Redknapp goes off to save England.

If you could change one thing about the sector, what would it be?

I am not sure whether I would change anything. I think it is an interesting sector that generally works well and plays an important role in the current economic climate. I guess the only thing that might be good to change would the general perception of the sector, moving it away from being a lender of last resort to a valuable alternative type of lender

If you could have one superpower, what would you choose and why?

Teleportation – so I could avoid all tubes, trains and traffic jams.

What was the last film you saw and what did you think of it?

It was actually a preview of Piggy, which is a British film that we were involved with. We provided funding for the Film Tax Credit.

I really enjoyed the film and it is always encouraging to see well made British Films.

What would you put in room 101 if you had the chance?

Bad drivers. It would have to be a big room, as there are so many of them. They drive me insane.

What do you expect to happen in the bridging finance industry in 2012?

I see more entrants all seeking the central London vanilla deals and hopefully a bit more clarity regarding regulation.

Generally I am very excited about 2012 because there does seem to be a genuine optimism in the people we deal with. The recession has become normal and people are dealing with it and working with it.

If you could do anything you wanted this Sunday, what would it be?

I would like to spend the day sitting in my garden in the sun. I am really fed up with the winter and the cold and am ready for the summer.

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