2016 SAW a huge change for Jamie Giles as he moved from Green Finance Group to Astute Financial in July. In many ways Giles was striking out on his own, having first moved into broking at Green Finance in 2013, following almost three decades in banking. And while Giles’ numbers in this year’s Top 10 relate to his time at Green Finance, his reasons for leaving are intricately tied in with his approach to broking.
As Giles explains, having an established reputation in a niche area can also be restrictive: “In Green Finance we were restricted to healthcare transactions, but we’ve decided to branch out, and we’re doing a lot of retail and different types of businesses now.” Giles predominantly dealt with and continues to deal with medical centres, dental practices and pharmacies, helping finance acquisitions, equipment and more.
Although he works in a niche area, the way Giles approaches broking has relevance throughout the commercial sphere and beyond. “The type of client that we get sticks with us because we can give them guidance throughout the process, whereas a bank would say, ‘You need to go see your accountant or solicitor to get everything sorted, then come back and we’ll give you a finance solution’,” Giles explains. He engages with those associated specialists – or recommends new ones if required – and his proposition is as much about long-term advice and saving time and effort as it is about saving money through lower rates.
Another way to understand Giles’ approach is by looking at his interview technique. He’s not afraid to go beyond the “staples of a transaction”, that is questions such as how much do you want; what’s the security; how are you going to pay it back? Instead he advises brokers to ask the “key questions”: why are you making this move; what’s the difference between being a paid consultant rather than your own business owner, and do you have the skills to be able to operate that? Giles is comfortable with the risks associated with such an approach. “If they’re taken aback they’re probably not the client for me,” he says. “But at the same time, people come to me because I might look at things slightly differently.”
The challenge for Giles is balancing his image, between the 25 years of varied banking experience that gives him the ability to provide widespread advice, and the risk of being shoehorned. “You have to re-engineer the way that you represent yourself in the market all the time. I don’t want to be seen as the person they come to just to get a piece of equipment finance, or the person they go to just for the business side of things … I want to be part of their overall journey.”
Being a healthcare specialist, Giles concludes, doesn’t preclude offering services in other areas; in fact it necessitates it. “One of the things we understand is just because we’ve got a doctor, who’s very good at being a doctor, doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to be in property development, or have a good residential portfolio. We can’t restrict ourselves just to business transactions; we’ve got to look at all of those elements.”