'Facilitating rapid growth while optimising financial performance are both part of my CFO toolkit'

In an interview with Development Finance Today, Mark Kilgallon (pictured above), who has recently been appointed to the role of CFO at LDS Sales Guarantees, discussed how LDS is well-positioned to unlock additional housing supply and his thoughts on his new role.

What attracted you to LDS initially? 

The people and the idea.  Both are super compelling, and the product just makes sense.

Its innovative and unique approach to addressing the UK's critical housing shortage and the opportunity for me to get involved at the perfect time — there is a huge market for this solution, and it is being rapidly adopted — was hard to resist.

How do you think previous experience — and your skillset — will bolster your new career as CFO?

I've been responsible for all things finance in companies that have gone through similar journeys to that for which LDS is destined.  Facilitating rapid growth while optimising financial performance and managing the control environment are all part of my CFO toolkit.  

I'm confident, like in my previous businesses, that we will create something special together.

Why is LDS so well positioned to unlock additional housing supply?

It is widely accepted that SMEs are key to increasing supply, yet little is being done to support them. LDS provides crucial, interest-free capital, allowing SME housebuilders to stretch their own equity further and bring forward more new homes. 

On top of this, we also guarantee to acquire any unsold homes, removing both the developer and lender’s sales risk. In a market where many lenders are rightfully relatively conservative about the projects they support, we provide comfort for them to lend and back growing developers. 

We have a range of lender partners who we introduce to the transactions which expedites the fundraising process for SME housebuilders, allowing them to get on site faster.

What is your opinion on the current mismatch between housing demand and supply and how the government is dealing with it?

The mismatch between housing demand and supply is a complex challenge that has been years in the making. While the government has initiated policies to address the issue, the pace of change has been much too slow and target after target has been missed. 

In my view, innovative solutions and partnerships like those LDS is forging, are essential to accelerate the delivery of new housing and effectively address this imbalance.

I know you have only been in the role for a couple of months, but what are your favourite things about it so far?

The team embodies a culture which strives for excellence through their commitment to development — both business and personal — within an entrepreneurial mindset.  

The place is awash with ideas but also creative, ‘get it done’ pragmatism that is underpinned by a laser focus on strategy. There's a real sense of camaraderie and excitement about the journey.

Did you always see yourself heading for a finance career when you were younger? 

Like many right-minded boys, I always wanted to be a professional footballer for Liverpool.  Unfortunately, I was blessed with a donkey's left foot which meant I had to consider an alternative path. 

I liked the idea of being at the heart of business — it was my dad who suggested accountants are often at the hub of decision making and, taking his advice to heart, that was the degree and career I pursued.

You were a crucial cog in the sale of Fluent Money to MAB – how was that experience for you?

The process of facilitating the Fluent Money sale to MAB was incredibly enriching. It was a testament to the power of strategic vision, teamwork, and perseverance. 

Transactions are full-on experiences and can somewhat take over your life but, as much of a cliche as it sounds, the ability to help make a profound difference to your friends’ and colleagues’ lives is a hugely rewarding experience. 

It sharpened my skills in dealing with investors, due diligence providers, and in driving transactions to successful closures — insights I bring to my role at LDS.

There is a lot of uncertainty in the construction industry currently — how do you think this will impact developers and housebuilders this year?

Uncertainty has abounded in this space for a few years now, and developers have proved to be a resilient group. All eyes are on interest rates being cut at some point this year and the positive impact that will have on housing activity, which will in turn boost housebuilders’ confidence.

LDS is an all-weather partner, here to support SMEs at every stage of the economic cycle, and also throughout developers’ individual business cycles. Where little else is certain, we’re guaranteeing a way to keep growing. 

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