"If the UK Government is to realise its net zero ambitions, the commercial property sector must be a key focus"
New commercial real estate lender, Ashman, has received its UK banking licence (Authorised with Restrictions or ‘AwR’), which means it has been authorised and regulated to trade with restrictions by the FCA and PRA.
Ashman, which was founded by real-estate entrepreneurs Ashkin Mittal and Manhad Narula, is currently developing a set of criteria to assess the environmental and sustainability credentials of a borrower. This will then define its sustainable lending criteria, providing preferential rates to customers demonstrating the strongest sustainability ambitions. The chosen criteria will be wide-ranging but will include assessments of the impact in energy, water, materials, waste, and health and wellbeing. Ashman expects to launch these products towards the end of 2022, followed by a platform that will provide customers with the support, knowledge and access to skills they need to help them on their sustainability journey.
Across the economy businesses are increasingly focused on their own sustainability, with 64% of SMEs saying they want to be more sustainable but lacking the expertise or finance to make the changes they need, according to a recent survey by CitySprint. At the same time, the UK Government has signalled a priority of achieving net zero by 2050. With a million SMEs operating in the construction sector today, and 300,000 homes to be built annually by 2025, it is a key industry that must take action if this ambitious target is to be realised.
Ashman is initially focused on lending to SMEs in the commercial real estate sector, while providing savers with superior rates. Ashman will lend on deals from £100k to £5 million and will offer both conventional and unique sustainability-linked lending products with preferential pricing for borrowers meeting sustainable criteria.
Ashman is led by James Leach, former global COO of Maple Financial, supported by an experienced senior team. Chief risk officer, Lisa Nowell, joined the new entrant from digital bank Monzo and spent time at Barclays and Nationwide; CCO, Caroline Luxmore, spent 10 years at Aldermore Bank with 25+ years’ experience in the industry; Matt Cowan, CFO, has worked at Deutsche Bank, HSBC and RBS; and COO, Simon Healy, was previously one of the founding members of Aldermore and managing director of its savings arm responsible for originating £15bn customer deposits.
James Leach, CEO of Ashman, said: “We are delighted to have received regulatory approval. Our banking licence is an important first step in realising our ambitions to support SME borrowers and personal savers alike, with a different approach to lending that places sustainability at the very core.
“We are building a bank that will sustainably finance the future by providing finance and guidance to what we believe remains a radically underserved market. Addressing this need is critical to achieving net zero in the UK, while at the same time giving savers the returns they need in times of rising inflation. We believe continual innovation is key to providing our SME customers not only with the funds but the crucial know-how to support them in delivering tangible sustainable processes.
“If the UK Government is to realise its net zero ambitions, the commercial property sector must be a key focus – and we want to be the bank to help investors, developers and the government in achieving this.”