Senior Managing Director, Credit Strategies at Square Mile Capital Management
What’s been the biggest market lesson learned during COVID?
All the hard work of getting the right structure and careful underwriting on new deals over the past few years was very frustrating at times, and the team often wondered why we couldn’t be more aggressive. Now that the tide has gone out, that high standard of care is making a difference in the credit performance of our loans. The lesson learned is that you can’t cut corners if you’re in it for the long run.
Are you bullish on New York City? If so, why?
When COVID is in the rear-view mirror, all the reasons people were attracted to live, work, and play in New York City will come back. People don’t change their basic propensities. It might take a few years, but this might be the thousand-year flood opportunity of buying, and it takes a strong stomach and a stronger bank account to stay the course.
What’s key to New York’s rebound and recovery?
Maintaining some level of quality of life and security.
How are you winning the deals for which you’re competing most aggressively today?
We win deals because borrowers know we will perform based on a strong track record that was built up for quite some time. It’s way too expensive for the borrower (and even for the lender) to not stay on track and get the deal done on agreed terms. So, first and foremost, we compete on relationships and delivering certainty — that’s always and ultimately the best deal, too.
How has your loan portfolio fared through the pandemic? Any surprises during asset management in the early days?
Our portfolio has been adversely affected as expected, in proportion to our exposure to hotels and retail, both of which are relatively muted. Just as important, our funding is stable and so we can stay the course.
What strengths do traditional lenders and non-traditional lenders bring to the market today? Who’s emerging stronger post-COVID?
Lenders with strong staying power and dry powder to do the right deals will emerge even stronger. If you’re in that position, it’s much easier to distinguish yourself and build a great franchise when the going is tough. In an up market, there’s just no way to outsmart a dummy.
How has your underwriting changed post-COVID? Is there more of an emphasis on underwriting or asset management today?
A lot more of both.
If you had one minute with President Trump, what would you say to him?
Favorite TV show you binged during quarantine?
Have you eaten inside a restaurant post-COVID, and if so, which one?
Any new hobbies taken up during COVID?
Eating a lot.
Where is your COVID hideaway?
Big Sky [Mont.], baby
Number of haircuts in the past six months?
One. Pretty hairy.
Home office or actual office?
Have you been on a plane post-COVID? If so, where did you go?
Best book you read during COVID?
“Archery for Beginners”
Favorite post-COVID secondary market from a lending perspective?