Q&A with Brian Norton - Bricksave’s New Management Adviser

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Q&A with Brian Norton - Bricksave’s New Management Adviser

The Bricksave team is expanding! Brian Norton has come on board as a Management Adviser, looking to apply his expertise in real estate, finance and process efficiency to help further streamline the Bricksave platform.

Brian is a Harvard and UCLA graduate from Chicago who has built several businesses over the course of his expansive career. Brian is a co-founder at Future Finance, a UK fintech student lender, and at Ridge Road Partners, an international investment fund. He was also a Partner at Arch Bay Capital, a company that has managed over 1.5 billion dollars’ worth of real estate across 50 states of the US.

We caught up with Brian to ask him a few questions about joining the Bricksave team and in what way crowdfunding is transforming the real estate industry:

Why did you decide to get involved with Bricksave?

The first time I came across the Bricksave management team was at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon – they were the most requested start-up exhibiting, so I was immediately interested to speak with them. I was immediately impressed by Tom’s vision and  execution: the fantastic Bricksave team has built a unique model to generate yield based on solid real estate fundamentals, and the business has terrific early traction. I had a number of follow-up meetings with the team and their investors and it was exciting to be around a business with so much potential. When Tom asked me to join as an adviser, I couldn’t resist the opportunity.

What experience and expertise do you bring to such a platform?

I have a career’s worth of experience in real estate, technology and finance, so a company like Bricksave that combines all three is an ideal environment for me. I understand how to grow companies like this and take them to that next level as I’ve done it plenty of times myself. What I hope to bring to the table is the accumulated knowledge that I’ve gathered over my career: dealing with billions of dollars of real estate, restructuring companies and processes for maximum efficiency, understanding the importance of finance regulations and compliance, using new technology to improve the service, and knowing how to properly leverage well-chosen real estate to get the best possible returns for investors.

What is so unique about the Bricksave platform?

Unlike many real estate crowdfunding platforms in the market which seem to be dressed-up outlets for the unsold stock of home builders, Bricksave are taking a longer-term view on the market to secure the best possible returns for their crowdfunders. The company scours the world to find markets and properties that fit their model. Two levers of value underpin each investment: positive cash flow via rental yields, and appreciation upside created by proprietary sourcing channels. Impressively, Bricksave have developed relationships with home builders through which properties are acquired at significant discounts on the market price. While Bricksave believes that property prices in their carefully selected markets should appreciate, the discounted acquisition should generate upside for investors in nearly any scenario. The global scale, combined with an obsessive asset-by-asset focus, allows crowdfunders to comfortably diversify their investments around the world and reduce the risk within their portfolio – something that appeals to individual investors and institutional alike.

In what way is crowdfunding transforming real estate investment?

In a number of ways. Firstly, crowdfunding is allowing an entirely new demographic to invest in property – cheaper upfront costs mean more people can get involved. This takes the focus away from the big institutional investors and puts more of the power in the hands of normal people, which is a great step forward. And because of the new wave of investors, the real estate crowdfunding revolution means that there is simply going to be more money available in the property sector, which could mean more development on a large scale. Secondly, crowdfunding is making real estate investment a global practice instead of a local one – it’s all online, so anyone can invest anywhere in the world. Thirdly, real estate investment is now so much easier than it used to be. With Bricksave, it’s a few-click process instead of a long, paperwork-heavy slog in which even HNWIs were required to carry out burdensome due diligence, battle with complex legal structuring, and roll the dice in unfamiliar international markets.

Where do you think real estate crowdfunding is heading?

To me it seems that this is going to become the new way for both inexperienced  and institutional investors alike to invest in property. And why not? No other form of investment allows you to diversify as thoroughly as real estate crowdfunding, and it’s only a matter of time before professional investors recognise the opportunity. In the next few years, real estate crowdfunding will evolve from a niche practice into one of the established and recommended ways of putting money into property. Bricksave is one of the leaders in this evolution, and I cannot wait to see what’s round the corner.


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