Chris Linkas – European Head of Credit for UK-based Investment Group
Chris Linkas is a credit investor, who specializes in investing throughout the capital structure. He also performs work related to assets and outright equity while maintaining an approach that is centered on credit. In his work, he strives to preserve principal through security and protections as he also structures strong returns.
He has headed a twenty-person European credit group based in London since 2012. His group’s primary responsibilities are principal investments in the UK-Euro region. His investments focus on areas of commercial real estate, shipping, renewables, secondary LP interests, non-performing loans, leases, performing asset-backed investments, servicer/platform investments, and corporate loans and securities.
Prior to his time in Europe, Linkas worked in New York as head of the commercial real estate transactions for a credit and real estate funds business (Angel.co). In that role, his area of concentration was opportunistic debt and equity real estate investments in North America.
Interviewing Chris Linkas:
What was your experience entering the workforce out of college?
I graduated from Bowdoin College in 1991, so when I entered the workforce it was straight into an economic recession, specifically the Savings and Loan crisis. It was also the same time that the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) was set up by the government. My first job was a position working for one of the consulting firms who was helping to value the collateral of those bad loans. It was a great stepping stone for me, because soon afterward I began consulting for private equity firms who wanted to purchase these loans as discounted packages from the RTC.
How did your experiences during that recession shape your approach to business?
The recession was actually a great time to enter the investment world because so many factors were weighted in the investor’s favor. Loans were being offered for heavily reduced rates. I think diving right into this investment-oriented environment gave me a lot of insight early in my career into the nuances that go along with these transactions. It’s something that still very much shapes my investment activities today.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The best ideas often come out of your other activities in business, which might seem paradoxical. I really feel that in order to successfully bring ideas and goals to fruition, it’s essential that you are interacting with others. The benefits from that are two-fold. First, when you’re actively engaging yourself in activities outside your central business, it almost has a conditioning effect. You’re exercising your business acumen and improving your fitness level, so to speak.
The second benefit is that your work in other transactions will provide you with a perspective that may help you discover an opportunity that you otherwise wouldn’t see. Information and markets move so fast these days that without that kind of edge over the competition, it’s difficult to find and capitalize on above-average opportunities.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Always challenge yourself outside of the workplace. I play football/soccer in recreational leagues in London, which is hard due to the high level of skill you’ll find in the city. Challenging yourself like that provides you with perspectives that you can then bring with you back to your work. You’ll find that you can push yourself beyond what you thought possible. That brings a host of benefits such as confidence, perspective, and the ability to practice a new skill.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Be critical of, and routinely evaluate, your own investments with objectivity. I question myself on a regular basis. Do my investments still make sense? Am I doing everything I can to mitigate loss and optimize upside? Is it time to exit? It’s important to constantly be asking these types of questions in a dispassionate way. That way you’re always doing what’s best for a business, rather than what’s best for reinforcing your previously held beliefs.
What is the best $100 you recently spent?
My Audible subscription! That, along with a pair of wireless headphones, has been a game changer for me. I’m a big reader but Audible let me basically double the amount I read. I listen while I’m commuting, traveling, wherever. With the amount of information and enjoyment I get from audio books now, I’m really not sure how I lived without it.
What software and web services do you use?
I subscribe to the Financial Times and the New York Times. Audible and Spotify are also big ones for me. I’m constantly trying to gain greater insight into the world around me, and those are huge resources to help me accomplish that.
What is one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Moby Dick. For me, that book has it all. I actually really love the nautical history it contains, I find that stuff fascinating, but beyond that, there’s this insane human struggle and journey. The whale’s a great metaphor for the unknown. The mood of the book is so good too, it’s a mystery set on top of the ocean with its endless depths below. One of my favorites.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
My sister. She balances being a mother of three young girls with a career as a registered dietitian nutritionist in New York. Not only do I respect her for that, she’s also always challenging me to make healthy nutritional choices even when my job demands are high. When I listen to her advice, I feel it in my overall well-being. I’m active, but eating good food is such an important part of feeling your best. She helps me do that.