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Aviva debt business in recruitment drive

The UK-based multinational insurer is hiring to boost its large real estate lending platform.

Aviva Commercial Finance has launched a recruitment drive as it seeks to expand its £13 billion ($19.5 billion; €17.4 billion) real estate lending book, Real Estate Capital, PDI's sister title reported last week.

The business has appointed headhunters to find more than a dozen new employees to join its origination, relationship management and credit teams. These roles will be across grades and include a head of origination and head of credit.

Aviva’s real estate lending function has undergone a series of changes in recent times as it looks to take on traditional bank lenders and expand its short-term financing offer. At the start of last year the business transferred over from the company’s life business to its fund management business, Aviva Investors, and this coincided with the departure of former head Kevin Sale, who had been with the company for 43 years.

Sale was replaced by new managing director of commercial finance, Barry Fowler (pictured), last June who joined from Lloyds where he was head of corporate real estate. At present the origination team consists of six people including origination manager Adrian Poole.

“We are looking to recruit in excess of 12 people split broadly equally across the origination, relationship management and credit teams,” Fowler told Real Estate Capital.

“I expect the lion’s share [of posts] to be in London. I’m not saying I wouldn’t employ more people in Norwich – we have a great team there – but it’s just if you try and bring in that skill-set, certainly at the more senior level, it is easier to do in London.”

The current team, other than Fowler, are based in the company’s traditional Norwich home.

Aviva completed more than £1 billion of deals in 2014. In December it funded an £81 million loan to Helical Bar for the refinancing of two London office buildings and a retail park in Cardiff as well £352.3 million of stapled finance for Kennedy Wilson Europe Real Estate for its purchase of the Bridgett portfolio out of Aviva’s “bad book”.