Interview with Oli Bland

In the second interview of our ‘get to know’ series, our Marketing & Communications Manager, Bret Jackson, has sat down with the Head of Lending, Oli Bland, to discuss his career and the trials and tribulations of being a fellow Chelsea supporter. There is more to this fella than meets the eye. Enjoy.

How did you get into the world of lending?

I have been fascinated by economics (which I studied at university), the influence of economics on history and the history of finance for 15 years. Economic historian, Niall Ferguson, published a book “The ascent of money” in 2008, which detailed in great depth the history of financial innovation and evolution from the ancient “promise to pay” tablets of 15th century BC Mesopotamia, through the Medici banking system, right up until the modern incarnations of the bond markets being utilised to finance war. This book coupled with James Kynge’s “China Shakes the world: A Titans rise and troubled future” from circa 2006 really piqued my interest in global finance, and the fact that it truly is the driving force behind most historical moments.

In addition, my father has been involved with the city for my entire life. I have seen him grow and sell businesses as a child, so I have had exposure to the general financial industry for as long as I can remember, which in retrospect has been an advantage. I was a student during the global financial crisis and interned at JPMorgan during 2009, when the global bond and equity markets were still reeling from the Lehman collapse.

In terms of lending itself, I have been involved since joining West One as a graduate in 2014, watching the business turn into a market leading behemoth. That really has been a great source of knowledge and inspiration, I had tremendous exposure given my age and learned from the best…

What attracted to you to Black & White?

I am a firm believer that success in life comes from taking opportunities when they arise. These fork in the road moments when aggregated over time, truly define who we are and the potential we have to become what we aspire to be.

The opportunity arose for myself and Damien to become vested and fundamentally mould Bath and West Finance into what we all now know as Black & White Bridging. These chances do not come along very often in our lifetime, let alone at the age 28, so even though I had to uproot my life for a period and jump into the trenches, the potential reward and opportunity to take on greater responsibility in a growth business was something that required zero thought.

What do you enjoy about your role?

I really enjoy the diverse nature of my role. I can be involved in multiple aspects of the business from dealing with introducers and new business, through to completing deals, equity raising and portfolio reporting.

Due to my role, I am constantly involved in multiple deals at varying different stages, pre and post completion! I get the opportunity to be involved with the capital markets team and general planning too. Personally, I love to learn, so the opportunity to deal with aspects across the entire business is great fun.

Any particular case that stands out you have worked on?

All of them! A person/company seeks out specialist finance because an aspect (or multiple aspects) of the deal limits the range of funding options. As such, each of the deals we work on has its quirks to work around, even if those are as simple as achieving a rapid completion!

What are your ambitions for the future?

To grow B&W into an established and market leading specialist finance business, which is befitting of our efforts.

Other than following Chelsea, what do you like to do in your free time?

Consume food, information and wine.

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