An Interview with Karen Dowie, Head of Gibraltar

  • Karen Dowie

    Karen Dowie

Tell us about your career so far and how you got into lending. 

From leaving school I worked for Barclays in various operational and sales team roles before moving to Gibraltar in 2004.  I then joined Barclay’s Gibraltar working initially as a Risk & Control Manger before heading up the Operational Teams.  In c.2013 Barclays made the strategic decision to exit the jurisdiction completely and I played an integral part of their exit plan which involved closing down all of the Operational functions and Client accounts.  It was early 2016 that I started to work for Sancus facilitating and executing lending transactions both in Gibraltar and across their other jurisdictions.

You joined Tenn earlier this year – what attracted you to Tenn?

One driver was that I had previously worked with many of the people, which was a massive plus for me, meaning I would be working with an experienced and positive team. The other was wanting to be part of Tenn’s journey. The enthusiasm from the Senior Management Team is inspiring, and I am excited about Tenn’s business model and future opportunities.

What’s your favourite ever lending deal which you were involved in?

It has to be a development loan here in Gibraltar, where we worked with a Borrower from the inception of a development project, which started as a massive hole on the side of the rock, until the completion of c.80 apartments. Watching the transition from that hole in the ground to a well-constructed, modern apartment block was amazing!

What makes a great borrower?

One who is engaged, open and willing to work collaboratively with us.  Building a relationship is important to me as it makes the transaction so much easier and facilitates future business.

What’s good about the Gibraltar market when it comes to lending/ loans?

Gibraltar is a small community, so it is important to build relationships and understand the market.  Property sales are buoyant and there are rarely any defaults or enforcements of security.

You work throughout the business focussing on operational infrastructure and deal execution. What’s your view on how Tenn has been set up and how we execute deals?

As an execution team, communication is key and is something we are really good at, despite being in various jurisdictions.  As for the set up, it was easy for me to join Tenn and hit the ground running as all the processes were in place to support the operational function and deal execution.  That said, we are always looking to improve how we do things!

You have a lot of experience in Gibraltar – what is the property and lending market like there?

Gibraltar is a small territory so the availability of land for new construction is limited. This often drives the property prices up.  The market demand for residential property over the last couple of years has remained firm with property prices increasing further.  There is a constant demand for property in Gibraltar not only from locals but from ex pats and international investors.  As there are a small number of banks in Gibraltar offering lending, it is a great market place for Tenn to enter into.

How can Tenn add value to the local CSP market?

Given Tenn can offer lending across multi jurisdictions against high value assets, it makes us unique with a great proposition. Especially here in Gibraltar, where we have many CSP’s with an international reach.

Is Tenn different to other places you have worked and if so, why?

At Tenn we are a small team and are all working towards the same goal. We are all invested in the strategic direction of the company and have the drive to make it succeed!

How do you find working on your own, do you have lots of contact with the team?

Whilst I enjoy working alongside a team of people, I am used to working on my own.  I am passionate about what I do and given today’s technology, it is so much easier to be in contact with my colleagues daily, if not hourly, in the different jurisdictions.