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Real Estate Finance Insights

Real Estate Finance Insights

Fumi Abbey

Fumi Abbey

The real estate market is one of the key factors to the UK's economic growth, and crucial to its success are the people behind the finance deals that facilitate property development and investment. Here, Ellen Smith, Service Delivery & Governance Director at Secure Trust Bank (STB) Real Estate Finance, discusses the importance of bringing through the next generation of real estate finance professionals, and showcases how we are supporting this through our own in-house training initiative.

Real estate is a vital component to our society. Whether it's commercial or residential, property development helps keep the UK economy growing, providing people with homes, jobs, and enhancing their quality of life. Currently, the development and renovation of residential property is particularly critical, with ongoing population growth reflected by the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showing England and Wales' population is growing at its fastest rate since 1962.

Moving forward, finance for property development will play a fundamental role for the evolving needs of the UK population and economy. But, in order to create more housing, student accommodation, commercial and mixed-use properties and everything in between, we need the people with the right knowledge behind the deals. Investment in highly-skilled talent is crucial.

So, what exactly are the professional development opportunities available to the next generation of real estate finance talent, and where does our own initiative come in?

Real-world learning

Ongoing professional development is a must as the real estate industry develops, and as ambitious organisations look to retain talent.

There are professional courses available, such as those run by the London Institute of Banking & Finance (LIBF). These qualifications provide a good foundation to career progression and instil fundamental financial acumen. In a bid to complement what professionals can learn through lectures and theory, and to equip up-and-coming professionals with real-world experience, we have developed a blended training model. This includes mentoring from senior members of our real estate finance team.

Our initiative, the Real Estate Finance Academy (REF Academy), is designed to give talented employees within our organisation opportunities to progress their career. Through theory, mentoring and on-the-job learning, individuals are given the tools needed to take their next professional step and forge a fruitful long-term career in our industry.

First-hand insight

To find out more, we spoke to some of our team members who are currently completing a course with REF Academy.

James Reeves
James Reeves

James Reeves, one of our Relationship Support Specialists, has over five years' experience in commercial banking across the startup business and real estate sectors. James enrolled onto REF Academy to gain the skills to transact complex property funding deals with a view to becoming a Relationship Director. He said: "After completing my Diploma in Business and Commercial Banking & Conduct, which went into detail on specialised areas of lending, I thought joining the REF Academy would be a great way develop my banking knowledge further.

"So far, my experience has been top tier. The course was exactly what I hoped for, giving me new responsibilities, from pricing deals and writing credit papers, to completing valuation summaries. My goal is to learn how to resolve real world issues from a Relationship Director with a view to building my own client portfolio and leading deals."

Alasdair Bowers
Alasdair Bowers

Alasdair Bowers, also a Relationship Support Specialist, has worked in the finance sector for just under four years and enrolled onto the REF Academy to develop new banking skills. He said: "I decided to go through the REF Academy because it was so highly rated by former members of staff. It takes place alongside my regular day job, and I get a set day per week to focus on the Academy work. So far, it has been really insightful, allowing me to build new skills and tackle things from a different viewpoint."

Both James and Alasdair are aspiring to learn new skills to take a step-up with a new position and responsibilities. The learning programme includes 10% theoretical knowledge, 20% coaching or mentoring and 70% experiential activity, conducted through client meetings and site visits.

Another talented finance professional that has come through the REF Academy is Fumi Abbey, who is working toward becoming Assistant Credit Operations Manager. Fumi, who is also part of our Relationship Support Specialists team, is already well versed in real estate finance, and through initiatives like the REF Academy, we can help ensure that careers can flourish. This, we believe, can only be a good thing for our industry as a whole.

Seeds of change

One of the key principles we apply to professional development is that progress shouldn't be rushed. Much like how seeds will flourish in their own time, so too will our finance professionals. That's why we urge everybody looking for a career in real estate finance to seek the right development path for them.

Under the REF Academy, our mentorship programme can be as quick as three months for advanced professionals, all the way up to two years for those at the start of their learning. Understanding that not all young professionals can be thrown into the deep end is vital too. After all, learning how to finance property development is a complex topic, and tasks like undertaking risk assessments, financial crime audits, credit proposals, and more, needs due care and diligence which comes with experience.

The real estate finance market is undergoing a period of change, primarily due to technology and data. Given that people are our most valuable asset, supporting team members with their professional development is really a no-brainer. That's why we're really proud of the REF Academy and the impact it has had so far on our talented team.

Find out more about Secure Trust Bank real estate finance services.