>, Team Interviews>Rachel Stark – Sales & Investor Relations Director

Cogress in focus

“We undertake a completely transparent and accountable process to source investments which allows investors to make an informed decision about their options”

Rachel Stark, Sales and Investor Director of Cogress discusses her day to day involvement in the equity investment firm and shares her views on the features of a successful investment, what makes investors tick, and why the Cogress model is the success that it is.

Before joining Cogress, since 2011, Rachel has led client-facing departments, both B2B and B2C. She enjoyed getting to know clients, understanding their needs and developing service or product improvements that will better meet these needs.

Tell us more about what you do at Cogress?

As Sales and Investor Director, a key part of my job is to ensure that all of our investors receive the very best service possible.  This extends to every single aspect of the Cogress operation, be it ensuring that investors have all of the marketing materials and support that they need, or ensuring that all of our financial interactions with them are completely compliant.  It is my role to guarantee that in everything we do, we are serving the best interests of the client.

 What does a typical day look like for you at Cogress?

There isn’t really a typical day at Cogress because it is entirely dependent upon where we are in the investment cycle.  We could be just about to launch a project, in which case we’re busy vetting the investment materials and preparing and briefing our investor relations team with all the information they will need to answer investor’s questions.  Or we could be at the stage where we are raising equity for a project, in which case we’re meeting with investors, explaining the story behind the development and collecting investments.

As the Cogress model has proven to be so popular, we are often in an enviable position where we have managed to raise all of the equity required for a development to proceed in a very short time frame. This provides us with the opportunity to go out and grow our investor networks. It is crucial that our investors know that they are, in a very real sense, the heart of Cogress, so going out and meeting potential investors for a coffee, or following up referrals from existing investors is an essential part of our business.  An average day is therefore quite varied and sociable, and one of the key qualities we look for in people who join our team is the ability to thrive in that kind of environment.

Who is the typical Cogress investor?

One of the best things about our unique business model is that it opens the door to the type of investors who wouldn’t normally have the ability to access quality property investments. This means that we have a range of investors looking to invest with us, whether that be professionals who have the resources but not the time, or developers who want to make some of their hard-earned money work well for themselves.  Then there are also the business owners and landlords who have had their fair share of exposure to the market, but who want something managed on their behalf. What is common to all our investors is that they are each rigorously screened and assigned a personal Investor Relations Manager.  Wherever our investors come from though, our goal is to consider their needs every step of the way and to do our utmost to deliver the good returns that we forecast to them.

What makes investors tick?

It would be nearly impossible to draft one profile for our investors, what makes one tick might be irrelevant for another.  It is quite interesting to hear from our investors about the different reasons they have for joining an investment or not. Some only invest in areas near to where they live, whilst others might have specific areas where they never invest in. We have investors who always look for mixed-use schemes and others who look for residential investments. It would be very hard to specify particular factors, however I can say that the location, duration and the target sale price are the main factors that affect investors’ decisions.

What are the factors that worry investors the most and how do you reassure them?

Investors justifiably have a number of worries about investments and one of our key selling points is that we undertake a completely transparent and accountable process to source investments and offer investors an informed decision about their options. We do this in part to specifically assauage their questions, but also to instill investors with complete confidence when it comes to investing with us.

Surprisingly, one the most pressing concerns that seems to bother our investors, is that our projected returns are often forecasted to be over twenty percent; something initially considered to be “too good to be true”.  They are right. High returns don’t come without risks, but it’s how we manage and mitigate those risks on our investors’ behalf that sets Cogress apart.  To allay concerns, we typically take investors through the financials of a number of our previous similar projects to explain how we’re better able to manage their risk exposure and achieve the expected returns. Each investment opportunity we present is subject to comprehensive due diligence processes. Therefore, investors get to use our proven experience as a valuble commodity to them.

Any tips for first time  investors? What should they look for?

We consider there to be five key factors that need to be carefully monitored before a decision is made to invest in property; Capital Value, Location, Developer, Time Length and Design.  What is of vital importance though is that investors should always be considering the downside in each of these factors, and deciding what their worst-case scenario for each of them is.  We often have investors that get carried away by the high rates of return we are able to offer, so frequently we find ourselves explaining the risks to them in considerable detail.  We have to ensure that our investors fully understand the potential downsides in the unlikely scenario that we aren’t able to step in on their behalf and rectify the situation.  We are presenting investors opportunities with as much knowledge and information as it is possible to give, in order for them to make a fully informed decision.

Whenever our investors invest, thier capital is at risk and it always pays to remember this.  It is also important for investors to diversify their investments and not to put all of their eggs in one basket – money is less at risk if it is spread across a range of investments in different areas.  Cogress is able to give investors access to high rates of return, but we should be just one part of a wider investment strategy.

What is it that you enjoy about working for Cogress?

There is a very real sense of being part of a team working here at Cogress and the atmosphere that feeling generates is fantastic.  My goal here is to ensure that we are presenting only the very best, vetted opportunities to our investors, and it is hugely fulfilling knowing that my goal is shared by all of my colleagues.  There’s also the level of interaction with investors that the Cogress model affords that makes it enjoyable to work here.  As I mentioned, we have such a varied roster of investors, and thanks to the nature of our business model and the pace at which our investment opportunities proceed, we have the time to interact with them and truly understand what their investment needs are – it’s not just lip service we are paying them.  These things and more combine to make Cogress a truly exciting place to be.

Any final advice you would give to Cogress investors?

Our aim is to ensure transparency for our investors so my final advice would be to use that aim to your best advantage and request whatever information you need to make you feel comfortable investing in a Cogress opportunity. Some of our investors like to see floor plans, others like to see the legal JVA document signed between us and the developer, others like to see the Heads of Terms for the senior debt loan agreement. Whatever it is that will help you make a decision please feel free to ask and we will do our best to respond with the appropriate information.

This interview has not been approved as a financial promotion by Cogress Limited. Potential investors must rely on their own due diligence prior to investing.

What type of investor are you?

I have an annual income of more than £100,000 or an investment portfolio of more than £250,000. Read Statement

I have previous experience of these or other alternative investments, and understand my capital is at risk if I invest. Read Statement

Select your investor type and leave your details below to start benefiting from our expertise