Artal launches dedicated fund monitoring arm

The construction consultancy has hired Robert Simpson to head up and expand a specialist part of the business that connects developers with access to bank loans and monitors how schemes are financed.

As director and head of fund monitoring, Simpson plans to recruit another two or three members of staff to cover the North of England from Artal’s Manchester office, and in time aims to grow the practice in London, the South West and beyond.

He joins Artal from construction surveyor firm Naismith’s, where he was associate director for three years. Prior to that, he was an associate director at CBRE in the London Project Monitoring Team for one year, and, before that, he spent six years in the project monitoring team at Aecom.

Fund monitoring is a part of construction consultancy that seeks to connect developers to bank financing for schemes, conducts due diligence on projects to strengthen bids to lenders, and, once approved, monitors construction progress and liaises with banks to release funding when agreed milestones are met.

Artal, whose founding directors are Alex Farmer and Stuart Taylor, has carried out fund monitoring work on an ad-hoc basis for clients but wants to formalise and expand its offering.

Farmer and Taylor said in a joint statement: “In this challenging time, we felt the best response to increasing demand was to create a specialist team, dedicated to meeting the needs of our funding clients.”

Simpson has 14 years’ experience providing fund monitoring services for North West projects including Urban & Civic’s New Square in Manchester, Salboy’s Local Blackfriars residential scheme, and the Lightbox in Media City, as well as London’s The Shard tower, outside the region.

He began his career in 2006 and gained substantial experience de-risking distressed projects throughout the 2007/8 global financial crisis.

“While Artal’s plans to expand its fund monitoring practice date from before the Covid-19 outbreak, we see the current social and economic environment as an opportunity to help our clients,” Simpson said.

“There are a lot of distressed schemes that are in need of a slightly more mature level of financial guidance now and over the coming months.”

While many in the industry would see the challenging marketplace as a “red flag”, he added, “it will provide a platform for experienced practitioners to demonstrate real value”.

Simpson, who joined Artal last week, is working to grow the company’s client base, including by helping development teams react quickly to the unstable environment.

“Whether agreeing cut-off costs, making buildings safe or overseeing redeployment of works, our advice will aim to keep clients in the driving seat,” he said.

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