ASC Director, Conrad Robins, opened ASC Finance for Business in St Austell in 1990.
Today, with offices based in Truro and Exeter, he is celebrating 30 years of helping businesses in Devon and Cornwall raise the finance they need. We interviewed Conrad and his team to find out more about his work with local business.
Do you remember your first successful application?
Conrad: “I do indeed, I can even recall the lender – Allied Irish. It was for a restaurant/wine bar with a bookie upstairs! The client became a friend and we did several deals over the years. Sadly, he’s no longer with us.”
What is your favourite part of the job?
“Meeting new clients face to face! I really enjoy hearing about their businesses and aspirations. I haven’t had any face to face meets since March due to COVID. I haven’t worn a suit since then either….I might never need to wear one again!”
What has been a particular highlight/achievement of your career?
“I always get a sense of achievement when helping a client realise their business ambitions, especially because we work so closely within and as part of our local community”
Which sectors are you seeing more demand for at the moment?
“The hospitality sector is really important to Devon and Cornwall, and is really taking off again in the current climate and the rise of the ‘staycation’. So we are seeing, and expect to see more holiday lets, bed and breakfasts and the like looking to grow and start-up over the next few months.”
“Another hotspot at the moment, and one we are getting great support from the lenders for, is property investment and development”
Have you had any really unusual clients/client requests for finance?
“Apart from the wine bar bookie? We’ve financed fishing boats, catteries and even a dog training centre that featured on an episode of ‘Location, Location, Location’, and more recently a boatyard on the beautiful River Dart. We’re currently working with an award winning music producer on his studio”
What have been the biggest changes in business finance over the years?
“More regulation. More scrutiny. More effort and attention needed, even more so now during COVID.”
Assistant, Jeannie Cain, has been with Conrad for the last three years. She told us, “Conrad is incredibly hard working. 9-5 is more like 7.30 – 6! He’s very passionate about what he does and the clients he works with. He gives the lenders a real run for their money and often challenges them for the benefit of clients – especially when they ask for unreasonable amounts of paperwork. The proposal summary is key – Conrad spends a lot of time with each client, understanding their proposition – so he is understandably cross if the lender doesn’t take the time to read it!”