Interview -

Meet a Real Estate expert - Sarah Smith

In our latest meet the team article, we speak with Senior Commercial Banker, Sarah Smith.


What is your banking specialism?

I am a real estate banker specialising in UK and European commercial investment lending.

I have worked in the sector for more than 30 years and my career spans credit, origination, deal execution, relationship management, restructuring, and recoveries.

Most recently, I spent seven years in private equity working out distressed debt portfolios acquired from UK and European banks.


What is happening in the real estate sector at the moment?

Until very recently, the property investment market was very buoyant following a slowdown over the past few years. We have seen more uncertainty again this last month driven mostly by an uncertain political outlook and rising interest rates.

In commercial investment specifically we are seeing huge investment in office – especially Grade A stock in prime locations. Industrial and logistics remains the sector of choice with much finer yields compared to 5-10 years ago. Retail and leisure are recovering following the hit of the pandemic but remain the sectors where most caution is exercised – especially high street retail which has been suffering for some time. The bank’s appetite here is notably weaker than for offices and industrial. Essential retail and retail parks that fared well the last three years are the exception.

Lease lengths are changing – 10–15-year leases are rare, unless five-year breaks are contracted in. The norm is now for five-year term certain leases with rent-free incentives. Properties with shorter leases can be challenging to fund, however at Arbuthnot Latham we take a commercial view on these types of deals, looking for mitigants for income shortfalls and structuring facilities that work for both the borrower and the bank.


What do you think sets Arbuthnot Latham apart in the market?

I worked for a building society for 26 years, then private equity for seven. Working for a private and commercial bank was something that naturally appealed to me. The bank is completely different to the two firms I worked at before and what attracted me most is the strong emphasis on entrepreneurialism.

Our USP is the service that we deliver. We have a strong focus on the client, and we offer a bespoke and personal service that sets us apart from the competition.

We are always looking for ways to expend our offering and our recent loan origination agreement with Aeon has enabled us to continue commercial real estate lending by finding an external source of funding.


What do you like to do outside of work?

I have a dog and enjoy countryside walks with my husband. I love short breaks and holidaying in the UK or abroad, and socialising with friends and family.  



Further reading

Meet a Real Estate expert: Steve Dunn

For the latest installment of our Meet the Team series, we speak with Steve Dunn, Director of Real Estate Banking based in our Manchester office.


Further reading

Continued Success for Arbuthnot Commercial and Real Estate in 2022

Arbuthnot Commercial and Real Estate team onboards 171 new clients and continues to grow lending and deposits.


Becoming a client

Take control of your finances today by completing our enquiry form. Alternatively, you can call us on the number below and one of our team will be more than happy to talk about your future.

+44 (0)20 7012 2500

This is required

Related services

Commercial Banking  •  Real Estate Finance  •  Buy to Let