Bernard Batt
IMPACT INVESTING

Bernard Batt

#17

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Southwestern Ontario Angel Group

Managing Cashflow – Bernard Batt

“You’re going to have to manage your cash flow fairly well and you’re going to have to get fairly granular into where your cash comes from, how that might change going forward, and you’re gonna have to manage risks significantly.”

ABOUT

Bernard is currently the Finance Director and safeguards the financial wellbeing of KEY, a provider for Admissions Consulting, Early Childhood Education, SAT and SSAT preparation and tutoring for students in BC and in China.

After university, Bernard consulted within the financial advisory group at Deloitte & Touche LLC in the restructuring practice. Bernard left Deloitte to join the first jointly TSX and SEHK-listed company as Assistant Controller, where he was based in Vancouver and Hong Kong. He returned to Vancouver where he contracted for the controller group at Goldcorp Inc., the largest gold miner by market capitalization in the world at the time. A graduate of St. George’s School, Bernard attended the University of British Columbia majoring in accounting followed by obtaining a CMA accounting designation.

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THE FULL INTERVIEW

Bernard Batt

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery:
Bernard Batt, welcome! I’m excited to spend some time learning a little bit more about you and what you’re looking to invest in. And today we’re asking Angels so, we don’t like to waste time, we like to jump right into things. So, Bernie why don’t you give us a little bit of background about yourself. We’ve known each other for a few years, we’re part of the same screening committees, we work on lots of different projects, chat all the time about startups, but now, I get to explore a little bit more about how and what you think and see in the world of startups. So, maybe you can give us a background of kind of where you came from and what you’re up to now.

Bernard:
Yeah, okay. So, I guess a little background by myself, I am I guess, I’m an angel investor currently. Invest in a lot of different asset classes but I also work as an analyst for the angel group and I guess I really started my career working for Deloitte and Tuition, Vancouver under the restructuring guidelines, so, I would go in for performance enhancement reasons or for insolvency reasons. So, that’s a little background, I have some experience as an entrepreneur. In that, I have a company back in Vancouver that’s still going on – that’s an educational consulting business and then we also have brick-and-mortar classes. Not currently given the COVID crisis but other than that, yeah, I guess I have some real estate ventures in town here, and yeah so, that’s kind of me, a natural.

Jeffery:
So, it keeps you busy. So, maybe give us an idea of what actually got you into the investing side? Getting into the angel world, what kind of steered you in this direction?

Bernard:
Yeah, I mean, I was looking for a way to deploy capital that kind of supported the better side of things. So, I guess I have a background in it, working for a coal miner in Mongolia and so it’s a metallurgical coal business and it’s a minor. And I guess getting into the angel world was kind of my way of giving back to the community, I guess.

Jeffery:
Very cool! So, is there one thing that you like a lot about the angel side of things around it? Like what’s your favorite piece of the investing side? What kind of gets your blood flowing?

Bernard:
Yeah, I mean I guess that the angel side, kind of I guess, for me, I- the majority of my assets are in real estate but I guess when you- I’ve always thought of real estate as an asset for those that are not so intellectually stimulated. I guess, so, I guess working with angel community is a way to kind of keep all my synapses firing and kind of understand what’s out there in the community and I guess, I’ve got really gotten into the macro side of things over the last little while and as a result kind of my investing methodologies kind of changed a little bit.

Jeffery:
Well, that makes it sound a little bit more interesting. I want to kind of pull back onto your real estate side because you mentioned that maybe this is the plain jane space for investing and that it’s maybe not as people are probably looking at it a different way. You obviously got into it because it’s an asset class but maybe you can give us an idea of where you see that going right now? Obviously, the world’s trying to figure it out. People are working from home, they’re talking about no one’s ever gonna go back to an office again. I’m kind of thinking that’s not true but you’ve got some properties in that space. So, the commercial side is there something in your mind that you’re saying, “you know what, we’re innovative but this is the direction we’ve got to go.” How are you guys looking at the real estate side from an investor down?

Bernard:
So, I mean I’ve been pretty lucky from the real estate standpoint. In that, I don’t have a whole lot of my tenants that are hit super hard. I don’t have any retail, I do have office space which for which some of my tenants have been hit pretty hard, but mostly just the really small ones. So, I’ve got Canada post in there, Canada post is not going to close down its shop. I’ve got a company that’s probably fine firing on all synapses because of not all synapses but firing all cylinders. Because they are banking software companies so, they are actually- the demand for banking software and stability is just so high right now, and then my other big tenant is a company called Northern Commerce, in town here. And they’ve been targeting some bigger and bigger companies as a result to this COVID crisis. People have to move online and they’re just one of the companies that does that really well and at a lower cost basis than and then a lot of other companies out there just because we’re based out in London Ontario. And then I have some industrial buildings, and they can’t move anywhere because they and they’re not shutting down either and they actually do better in recession because they people tend to buy less wholesale when they’re not building as big things, and they buy more retail and the whole move towards just-in-time manufacturing processing, and all that it actually helps these guys out. So, I you know, when I bought all these buildings, I bought them all four buildings in 2016. And when I bought them I was thinking man we’ve got to be super long in the tooth on this cycle so I tried to buy things that wouldn’t get hit super hard in the event that we had a recession, I don’t think we have a recession due to a virus but, I did think we’d have a fairly deep recession this cycle.

Jeffery:
So, you kind of planned that out when you were making these investments. So, what made you jump into the real estate side? And then, now back into the angel side was the- did you look at the portfolio and just say, “you know what, I’m gonna balance this out by doing something that’s gonna be more long-term play. Dig it in and then over here I’m going to look for more innovative innovation,” is that kind of the idea behind it?

Bernard:
I guess I got into the angel side of things more as a philanthropic prospect in order to, you know, if you donate to a charity, it only helps people for a month or two months. Whereas, if you donate to or if you invest in a business then, they actually, they hire people for a longer period of time and all those benefits continue for many years. Hopefully yes, and-

Jeffery:<