Geoff Gates, managing director of Securus Escrow, claims his company is Europe's only dedicated aviation escrow service, offering sympathetic time zones to clients in Asia, Europe and the Middle East
How did you get into aviation?
I have always been interested in the industry and have a lot of experience in managing systems, logistics and business development. When I heard about the opportunity at Securus, I jumped at the chance to be MD. Securus is associated with Gates Aviation, the consulting firm, and consequently it has a wealth of experience behind it, which brings even more strength to the product offering.
© Securus Escrow
Gates: looking forward to bringing more deals to the table in 2011
What makes Securus different from other services?
One of the main differences about Securus is that the service is based in the UK, whereas most aviation-focused escrow services are based in the USA. This means the company can offer sympathetic time zones to clients in Asia, Europe and the expanding markets of Central Europe and the Middle East, plus we can work with US clients too. As far as we know, we are the only dedicated aviation escrow service this side of the pond, which makes my job interesting because my key competition is in the USA.
Where do you spend most of your time?
I spend quite a bit of time out and about meeting aircraft brokers, manufacturers, lawyers and banks, letting them know about our services and how we can help them with safe and essentially risk-free transactions.
It is still a fairly new concept in the European market to have an independent aviation-focused escrow agent, so it is really about educating the market about the benefits we can offer, and why it is a valuable service.
Who are your typical clients?
To be honest, we can support any client that is trading an aircraft. This ranges from high net worth individuals to business aviation companies, to charter companies and even commercial airlines from all over the globe. As long as it is aviation-related, we are able to help. We have even looked at supporting those wanting to take flying lessons, who can deposit their fees into a secure account which can then be paid to a school on a staged basis. So we do not really have a typical client.
What is the biggest challenge facing escrow companies in the current market?
The biggest problem in the market at the moment is the reduced amount of aviation sales. Then, once a sale has been agreed, not having any control over how it proceeds can be frustrating.
Sales can fall through at any moment and obviously, if this happens, then we have to undo all the initial work and begin again. This has a knock-on effect on our business because without transactions, we cannot offer services.
However, 2011 looks more positive, so I am looking forward to bringing more deals to the table in the next year.
What do you enjoy most about Securus?
I really enjoy the challenge of the complexity of aviation deals. Rarely is it as straightforward as a simple exchange between two parties. There are often lawyers, banks, brokers and, more often than not, three or more countries involved, which means I have to communicate and work with a variety of aviation sectors, yet have to remain independent from all of them.
The closing of a deal is very satisfying, knowing that you have supported the transaction to go smoothly and with the least amount of hassle. Clients really appreciate this.