Housing Finance Awards 2019: Centrus shortlisted Best Professional Services Firm
Centrus is pleased to announce we have been shortlisted in this year’s NHF Housing Finance Awards in the Best Professional Services Firm category. We would like to thank all clients for the trust they have been placing in our experts over these last 6 years. We believe in working with clients as a team and take pride in supporting them to ensure value for money and prudent risk management.
This award will go to the external adviser organisation which over the course of a single or series of assignments, demonstrates:
- a high quality, comprehensive service to their clients
- added value, cost-efficiency or strategic value far greater than was envisaged by the client at the time the consultancy was awarded
- and, for example, exceptional quality of advice and service on finance matters including treasury, debt structuring, capital markets and accessing external investment.
These are some of the evidences we have brought to the attention of the judges under each criteria:
Criteria 1 – Level of Service
- Centrus is regulated by the FCA and provides a truly independent advice, specialising in corporate finance, technology and investment management. We are united by a culture that values imagination, energy and purpose to unlock significant value for clients. Centrus provides a full range of finance related services for Registered Providers of all sizes in all regions of England.
- Working across a number of predominantly essential service sectors is important for our clients, enabling Centrus to share both good practice and broader market intelligence.
- We place an emphasis on values such as commitment, fairness, sound judgment and integrity because that is the way that Centrus believes business should be done.
- Centrus creates strong client relationships built on respect, integrity and expertise, often developed over many years. We know that gaining the trust of our clients is a privilege and we treat these relationships with the utmost care. We have formal project reviews and meet and speak regularly with our clients to seek feedback, thereby ensuring service levels meet or exceed expectations.
Criteria 2 – Quality of Communication
- Centrus people are regularly invited to speak at public events and conferences on Housing finance matters and often contribute thought leadership pieces in trade publications.
- A comprehensive data suite is available to clients, including rates, credit ratings, business plan assumptions and monthly market insight briefing to support client decision making.
- We have proven ability to convey sometimes highly complex financial matters to Boards in a way which is readily understood to enable effective governance.
- Through our website Centrus regularly publishes white papers and news articles covering current issues affecting clients, ensuring they are well informed.
Criteria 3 – Commitment and contribution to work that truly represents value for money
- Centrus understands that optimising financing arrangements is critical in driving VFM. Often ‘interest payable’ is the 2nd or 3rd largest annual cost and as financing has to support both corporate objectives and fit within risk appetite we work with clients using our extensive market knowledge to ensure appropriate financial covenants and corporate consents are agreed as they are is vital in maximising borrowing headroom and capacity for development growth. This also reduces the prospect of trigger events requiring negotiations with funders and avoiding any associated costs.
- Centrus is the leading advisor for M&A in the sector, having worked on many of the largest and most complex mergers and group restructures. Material legacy debt positions in the sector contain significant value for clients and the potential for substantial value erosion, creating a highly visible VFM challenge.
- Often significant value is at risk in M&A activity placing a material challenge on negotiating optimal outcomes for clients; balancing a desire to ensure the combined entity can maximise its opportunities with freedom to deliver its corporate ambitions vs retention of value. Centrus recognises this dynamic and our advice is based on our understanding of the bigger strategic picture rather than seeing transactions in isolation. Over the past 2 years Centrus has demonstrably supported retention of in excess of £220m of value whilst right-sizing corporate freedoms and treasury positions.
Criteria 4 – Innovative problem-solving skills or new use of technology that improves practices across the sector
- There are many examples where our strong analytical approach, backed by highly experienced specialist practitioners, have brought solutions to challenges faced by clients. By way of example, Centrus advised Accord on a highly successful £100m private placement, including deferred tranches. This was of wider benefit to the sector due to the specialist nature of Accord (health & social care) proving the ability of organisations to raise competitive funding despite significant uncertainty around the security of future income streams.
- When advising clients on options for existing finance we have pioneered the use of a concept of ‘embedded value’ to represent the economic value in existing funding. This enables sophisticated strategic decision-making underpinning the approach towards negotiations with particular funders because clients have a clear understanding of the value of the relationship in quantitative as well as qualitative terms.
- Technology introduced by Centrus provides a Systems, Reporting and Valuation services that combine technology and advice for effective risk management. We have recently helped a large housing association to automate interest and payment notices, achieving process control and savings in cost and time.
Criteria 5 – Advisers who can offer a wide range of investment structures and partners to the sector
- As a fully independent adviser with deep market coverage and intelligence, Centrus supports clients in raising the most competitive debt from banks and investors. We work proactively to support new potential lenders enter the sector, creating more capacity and competition e.g. Sumitomo, BNP & NAB). Centrus is ranked #1 for advising on capital markets transactions based upon independently published league tables.
- We have structured and advised on the two largest lease-finance transactions undertaken in the sector to date (Places for People and Genesis) and can highlight many other innovations. We have also delivered highly bespoke development & project finance transactions.
Criteria 6 – Examples of innovative solutions to financing challenges
- We start every engagement with clients on the basis of firstly fully understanding their objectives and strategy. This means ‘innovation’ may not always be the best solution; sometimes keeping things simple but executing them in the most effective way is the best solution.
- There are other situations where innovative thinking is required and Centrus recently demonstrated this, arranging two “bridge finance” transactions where banks are used for short-term liquidity in advance of a public bond (Orbit Group), enabling execution risk to be reduced and/or providing additional liquidity in a potentially challenging market.
- Clients often recognise that use of property assets as security can become a constraint to growth. We have helped clients seeking to make better use of existing assets for loan security, including maximising valuations and advising OHG on a unique private placement for £85m using predominantly shared ownership properties. We have also pioneered the arrangement of unsecured borrowing which is likely to become increasingly important.