What we mean by ‘Finance with Purpose’ 


A few years ago, we did some work around our brand and messaging with the excellent David Butcher of Communications and Content, the outcome of which was the adoption of a Centrus strapline that we’ve used ever since, Finance with Purpose

One of the reasons I love Finance with Purpose as a core mission statement for our business is that it encapsulates three core aspects of what Centrus believes in:

1. Our People

Our people are our most valued asset and I’m incredibly lucky to be surrounded by such a great team. They bring high levels of energy, talent and engagement to their work, consistently delivering innovative solutions and successful outcomes to our clients. We are absolutely committed to making Centrus a great place for people to learn, thrive and enjoy successful careers, allowing our people to work with a real sense of purpose and commitment.

2. Our Services

We are a financial group committed to sustainability, real assets and essential services. We are fortunate to have built a market leading position across sectors such as affordable housing, education, energy transition, water, infrastructure and transport – all of which deliver useful outcomes and positive impact to society. We are committed to responsible finance as a purposeful and positive force in enabling high quality infrastructure, services and employment while offering stable and reliable long term investment returns to those who need them. 

3. Our Business 

We have a real passion and belief in business and entrepreneurship as a force for good. As well as generating economic growth, great businesses provide employment, career opportunities and a positive impact on the communities within which they operate. We have had a long held commitment to these values and our recent certification as a B Corporation underlines this belief and sense of purpose in what we do. 

So, next time you see us using #FinancewithPurpose, hopefully you will have a better insight as to precisely what we mean!

Jonathan Spearing joins Centrus as Director from Poplar HARCA

Centrus is delighted to welcome Jonathan Spearing as a Director, specialising in Social & Affordable Housing.

With over 16 years of experience working in the housing sector, the latter half as Director of Finance at Poplar HARCA, Jonathan has extensive knowledge across finance, treasury and governance as well as a particular interest in decarbonisation, regeneration and JV activity. 

Given Centrus’ market leading position within the housing sector in the UK and Ireland, Jon’s experience and expertise will be invaluable for both our team and clients.  

Centrus is widely recognised as the leading treasury and corporate finance advisor to the affordable housing sector. As a certified B Corporation, we provide advice & investment to the projects, companies and assets that matter to people, communities and the environment.

Our team has over 200 years of combined experience, spanning banking, derivatives, debt capital markets, equity, and financing strategies. Centrus also provides treasury reporting and sophisticated technology solutions from Centrus Analytics to a full spectrum of housing associations.

“Centrus’ market leading position creates a virtuous circle in enabling us to develop, retain and attract high quality professionals to underpin our objective of always delivering first class advice to and outcomes for our clients.

Jon further strengthens our exceptional team, providing valuable experience and insights from the front line of housing, and we are delighted to welcome him”. 

Paul Stevens, Managing Director – Centrus

“I’m excited to join such a talented team and am looking forward to meeting more housing associations and sharing experiences”.

Jonathan Spearing, Director – Centrus

2023 | A welcome early year thaw in debt markets

Central Bank policy still tightening

Another week, another round of interest rate increases. With the Federal Reserve having led the inflation fighting charge on the part of Western Central Banks, its 25bp increase to a 4.5-4.75% target range represents an easing off of the rate of increases. With the Bank of England following on with a 50bps increase, taking its policy rate to 4% – a 14 year high – and the ECB also hiking by 50bps to 2.5%, the squeeze on indebted households and borrowers (including governments) continues. 

In the UK and the US, the housing market is already showing signs of stress, unsurprisingly in the US, where the benchmark 30-year mortgage rate has gone from sub 3% to as high as 7% before falling back to north of 6% this is having a negative impact on both new housing orders and house prices, although, the effects seem to vary regionally. In the UK, December house prices fell for the fifth month in a row, the longest decline since the market correction in 2008-09, with mortgage rates in December averaging 3.67%, the highest in a decade. Savills’ latest forecast shows UK house prices falling by an average of 10% during 2023 – when even the estate agents are this bearish, you know the housing market outlook is gloomy.

For the UK, the dark economic outlook continued with the IMF forecasting that the UK would be the only G7 economy to contract in 2023, citing high taxes, increased interest rates, high energy prices and a squeeze on government spending. The IMF forecasts will place further pressure on Jeremy Hunt from his own backbenches to shift back to a more growth-oriented strategy in the forthcoming budget. 

Improved sentiment in public & private debt markets in early 2023

Despite the various storm clouds, there were some reasons to be cheerful as the new year commenced. As we know, 2022 was a pretty ferocious year regarding funding markets and volatility across inflation, rates and energy costs. The resulting melee caught many off-guard with the result that public debt and equity markets ground to a virtual standstill at times with volumes massively down on previous years. Although private markets picked up a certain amount of the slack, price discovery becomes increasingly challenging without visibility of reliable public market benchmarks. Being a fickle bunch, investors appear to have rediscovered their nerve over the Christmas break and January saw record levels of issuance in the Euro fixed income market. Although Sterling was less active, there is a clear return of appetite and liquidity as reflected in new issue premia for primary bond issues which are tight to negative, underlining a major shift in investor sentiment. 

This is also reflected in buoyant private credit and banking markets at the current time as evidenced by deals that we have in the market for housing, infrastructure, energy and real estate clients. As a result, borrowers are dusting off investment and capex plans which were quietly deferred last year and showing a greater willingness to re-enter funding markets, particularly with all-in rates significantly lower than the levels reached during the UK market spasms of last September. To put this in context, the underlying 5, 10 and 30-year gilt/swap rates are circa 1.5-1.75% down from the highs of last year and credit spreads are 50-100bps lower depending upon the credit rating and sector in question. 

Although I appear to have missed my invitation, colleagues from our Investor Coverage team had the tough task of departing the UK winter and heading to the US Private Placement Industry Forum in Miami. The positive early 2023 tone was also very much in evidence from the many US institutional investors they met over there with a strong appetite confirmed for strong credits across affordable housing, real estate (secured and unsecured in both cases) and infrastructure. 2022 underlined the need for borrowers to maintain flexibility and access to different sources of capital and given the depth of the US market, this remains an important option for many debt issuers.

Given the gyrations of 2022, we are seeing a renewed focus on risk management across our client base across rates, inflation and power/energy costs. Even though borrowing costs have fallen materially, along with wholesale gas and electricity prices, clients are keen to take risk off the table and to lock down certainty in their business plans wherever possible, even if on balance they expect markets to move further in their favour. 

So, in spite of the challenging backdrop, debt markets have very positive sentiment and strong momentum into February, which we hope will set the tone for the rest of 2023.

For more information on any of the topics mentioned, please contact a member of our team or email london@centrusadvisors.com