02 Mar Featured Female – Hollie Coles
Hollie is a Property Finance Associate and has shared her journey into the development finance industry.
What made you want to pursue a career in property finance?
Property has been an interest of mine ever since I was little. Grand Designs, Location, Location, Location, Homes under the Hammer (you get the idea) were all fond favourites of mine. I also love how relatable it is, most of us interact with real estate every single day; whether it is the home we live in, the office we work in or the restaurants we go to.
It is so valuable and engaging that when you are working on a particular deal, you can go and see the asset with your own eyes. I think that gives you a far greater understanding and interest in what you are doing and ultimately, a real drive to work to the best of your ability.
As for the finance side, this came mainly from university, my degree was finance heavy, and I have always liked numbers so I guess, I tied the two together and have ended up where I am now!
What advice would you give someone who is considering joining the industry and why?
I have found that everyone working in real estate is so excited and enthusiastic about the industry. Whenever you go to a real estate event, there is such a ‘buzz’ in the atmosphere, and I genuinely believe that is because everyone in the room is passionate and interested in the work that they do. I think this kind of atmosphere and enthusiasm translates into a really healthy industry environment. People really like seeing new individuals coming into the industry and enjoy watching them thrive.
From colleagues, to clients, to lenders, to other industry professionals; I have found that everyone is so supportive and eager to help newcomers (whether male or female). I will acknowledge that typically, there are more men than women in the room at most industry events. However, I think a woman should see that as an opportunity. You may offer a different opinion or standpoint, and people will be really interested to hear it.
I have worked in the industry for nearly two years now, and so far, I honestly haven’t found that being female has held me back in any way. If anything, the only thing that could have possibly held me back is myself about any preconceptions I may have had in my own head about the way I might have been treated. I would say to anyone hesitant, male or female, just go for it! I guarantee you will be really pleasantly surprised at the support and backing you will be given by the industry.
3. Where and how did you start your career in property finance?
Alongside my studies at university, I was fortunate to secure work experience with Lambert Smith Hampton as well as another niche brokerage. I really enjoyed the work I was undertaking, and subsequently got introduced to Samuel Kalms at Kalms Property Finance. I was lucky enough to land a job at Kalms Property Finance straight out of university, and now I’m nearly two years down the line. We are a real estate finance brokerage, based in the West End, who advise and structure bespoke real estate funding solutions for property investors and developers.
Starting My Career:
Despite the work experience, starting at Kalms Property Finance was a big step. I started the role not fully knowing what it entailed and to some extent I was thrown in the deep end. For the first couple of months it seemed as though the, “list of things to learn” was quickly growing larger and larger, even the sheer amount of terminology was quite intimidating. I tried to remain confident in my ability to learn on the job, and to embrace the fact that I had a job doing something I was genuinely interested in. Gradually, day by day, I was starting to pick it all up, and the pieces were falling into place.
Although it could seem overwhelming sometimes, it was a big opportunity to get exposure on the whole business from day 1. I was very fortunate that Kalms Property Finance provided me with a supportive environment in which to learn and grow. In two years, I’ve developed my knowledge and have completed Part 1 of my CeMAP qualification. With every meeting, deal, networking event , my confidence has increased. I am now developing my own solid network and relationships within the industry. I am even running some of my own deals.
My Role at Kalms Property Finance:
The role itself is so varied because every deal is different. The asset class, the location, the business plan, the client – their funding requirements (e.g. leverage, term, rate assumptions), they may be onshore/offshore, their experience. This list goes on and on. Therefore, we spend most of our time developing relationships across the market (meeting lenders, valuers, lawyers, agents etc). This means we are best equipped to structure the most competitive, suitable and future-proof finance solution for each individual deal. This makes for such an interesting role, where every single day brings unique opportunities and challenges.
In addition, as a broker, you are essentially the “coordinator” of all parties from inception through to completion. This provides you with a well-rounded and comprehensive understanding of the entire process from start to finish. This makes the role extremely rewarding, but it doesn’t come without its challenges. To be a really good broker, you must ensure you have and develop all the necessary skills, relationships and knowledge. This is to fully understand the ever-changing market and the various opportunities and challenges it presents. This allows us to negotiate, structure and deliver finance that meets our client’s aspirations and long-term business plan.
The fact that every single day presents an opportunity to learn and to do something you haven’t done before, means that there is no limit to how “good” you can become at the role. In my eyes, this is the basis for a great career, not simply a job for now. Above all else, I really enjoy it, and to me, that is the most important thing.
Read last month’s edition here and keep an eye out for the next Featured Female.