OUTSIDE OF THE BOX: Simplified Lending ventures into insurance field with acquisition of firm

OUTSIDE OF THE BOX: Simplified Lending ventures into insurance field with acquisition of firm

“We are trying to be an alternative lender and help customers based on the current economic reality”

CEO anticipates Bahamas economy will come back stronger based on strong demand for tourism

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Robert Pantry, the principal of Bahamian financial services firm Simplified Lending, said yesterday he was “cautious but bullish and optimistic” on this nation’s economic rebound, after announcing the addition of an insurance agency to its group of companies.

“We are very pleased to announce that Affinity Insurance Agency is now a part of the growing Simplified Lending Group of Companies,” said Pantry.

“Despite the fallout from COVID-19, we continue to be extremely optimistic about the future of The Bahamas. Our acquisition strategy is to focus on the future with a growth and expansion mindset. Core to our growth strategy is to look for ways to add value to our clients as our aim is to [be] the go-to boutique financial services group centered around personalized service.”

Affinity’s policies will include homeowners, car and truck, marine and dock, public liability, directors’ liability, contractors all risk, fleet, hotel and hospitality and cybersecurity insurance, in addition to life insurance and group and individual health insurance.

According to Pantry, initial discussions to acquire Affinity began in early 2021. Negotiations, closing on the purchase, regulatory approvals, leasing and upgrading space in Sandyport Plaza plus administration offices in Simplified’s new 3,000-square-foot headquarters in RND Plaza, Thompson Boulevard, continued before and after the lockdowns with a determination to proceed.

“Over the past two years, even right through the pandemic, we listened to concerns of clients in businesses of every size about the rising cost of insurance, increasing requirements for coverage and, at the same time, a fear of more exemptions,” said Pantry.

“We heard what those clients and colleagues said and asked ourselves if we were able to bring innovation to residential and commercial mortgages and financing, why can’t we look at insurance with a view of how best to meet changing needs with a continued dedication to that personal service that helped us grow to where we are today?”

Pantry told Eyewitness News: “We are trying to be an alternative lender and we are trying to look at opportunities to help customers based on the current economic reality. We are trying to find creative ways to help them. We don’t necessarily have a blanket approach across the board.”

Robert Pantry.

Pantry, who spent nearly 20 years in commercial banking before launching Simplified Lending in 2019, noted that the firm focuses on consumer and small business lending and also serves as a mortgage broker.

“Small businesses often find it challenging to access capital and we want to focus there,” he said.

“Obviously, we work with government employees and try to deal with some of the private institutions as most banks have shut off the tap.”

Pantry noted that while banks are taking an ultraconservative approach to lending and trying to help their existing clients survive the COVID crisis, they will start to become less conservative once tourism rebounds.

“Based on the strong demand for tourism, I think that is going to help the economy come back stronger,” said Pantry.

“The banks tend to follow the economic activity, so within 12 months after tourism has returned to pre-COVID levels, banks will start to become less conservative.

“I don’t see it as a long-term situation because the demand for tourism is so strong — probably the strongest we have seen in a very long time.”