The man behind Drawbridge Finance

The man behind Drawbridge Finance


By Rebecca Hobson

It’s taken us weeks to track down the brains behind the newest short term lender, Drawbridge Finance. Both CEO Jonathan Samuels and head of marketing and operations, Mark Posniak, seem to be as tricky to place as some of their deals. And yet, just as they keep pulling those deals off, so too do we manage to pin them down, and it’s with a sigh of relief we sit for coffee at their local bistro, a stone’s throw from their HQ in the heart of the City.

They’re both looking surprisingly fresh – considering they’ve been run off their feet for months now –  so as Louise (B&C Editor) takes Mark to one corner to grill him for our weekly 10 Questions With...feature, I turn and ask Jonathan why it is exactly he’s in this game at all...

There are a couple of main reasons he tells me and he already had considerable experience in lending before launching Drawbridge. When working for Standard Chartered Bank, Jonathan learnt about lending from the bank perspective, so that when he moved to South Africa in 2004, he was ready to launch two new businesses: a mortgage brokerage and a bridging finance lender.
“I was lucky enough to sell these businesses in 2007 to a private equity company, at the market’s peak, we didn’t know it then of course, but it was the perfect time to sell. Naomi [Jonathan’s wife] and I had decided to move back to the UK; Naomi was pregnant with our first child and wanted to be close to her family, the time was right to come home.
“So I decided to start lending out my own money – I saw an opportunity – nobody seemed to be lending anymore, it was mid 2008 and bridgers were telling me I was mad, that bridging was dead – ‘It’s over don’t come in’ they said!”
That Jonathan remained determined isn’t surprising. An Oxford University graduate, his academic success has clearly followed him into the business world. He’s used to hard graft and appears to enjoy it. He describes his time as a university student as wonderful and exhilarating, but very hard work. His degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics appears to have prepared him well – “I’m quite academic,” he tells me, modestly.
So as we sat back helpless and watched the financial world come to its knees, Jonathan, fresh and determined kept going, “I knew property would stabilise,” he tells me, shrugging.
“But it wasn’t easy...I kept on knocking on doors, and though none were slammed in my face – in fact people were very positive – I was always passed onto to someone else. Each person I met with would lead me to the next person until I finally met with the right one... I’ve got boxes of business cards,” he says laughing.
“Finally I was introduced to Octopus [Drawbridge’s main funding line] through a friend, and it took a few meetings to do the deal, now I was faced with another 4 or 5 months of preparation.”
Later on Jonathan tells me that he believes these months of preparation were crucial to Drawbridge’s success. This, his team and a true understanding of Drawbridge’s ‘patch’ – mainly exclusive central London districts – makes Drawbridge stand out from the rest. Before any bridge is made, every single property is visited and investigated. Jonathan believes it is this level of thoroughness, coupled with a dedication to quality service that really makes the difference.
The boys pride themselves on giving the best customer service; if you call Drawbridge, a decision maker will always speak to you, they assure me. A little later and Mark Posniak comes and joins our conversation. The two men are at ease and clearly enjoy each other’s company.
“Jonathan is the steering wheel, he guides our team every step of the way and makes sure we are all working towards the same goal. It’s a good place to work, the best: all the guys are passionate and energetic. The atmosphere is intense, it’s an ambitious environment. It’s great!” Both are laughing and I can’t help but feel a teeny bit envious of this perfect working friendship they have [see me – Ed].
“But this is only the beginning,” Jonathan tells me, smiling. “Watch this space”.

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