The Fakers: How To Avoid Them When Seeking Project Financing

ByGilles Herard, Jr.

Expert Author Gilles Herard, Jr.

Have you ever been to a show where you see a fake Marilyn Monroe or a Tina Turner lookalike or even Cher? They look so much like the real deal that you can barely tell the difference!

While this can be very entertaining when you pay to see such a show, other times it's not so funny. People come to me regularly with a pre-formed bias. Why? Because they've come face-to-face with lookalike merchant bankers or project financiers, paid money for their services, and never got their funding.

So what's going on? Well, one of the first things you have to watch out for are lenders/investors who call themselves 'bancs'. Not 'banK' but 'banC' - the difference? Fake banks! There are lenders out there who call themselves bancs, like "national banc" or "investors banc" or "prudential banc". These are not in fact banks and cannot guarantee funding like a real bank would, so watch out for those vampires.

There are also fake brokers out there (shocking, I know). These brokers depend on fees and will make clients believe that they either have money of their own to invest or are connected to investors with 'deep pockets'. They will collect their fees and then will disappear (this is why our image up top has monopoly money - it's just not real, and neither are these folks).

So by the time that clients reach me, they will often have been 'played' by these types of people and institutions at least once, sometimes twice, and they come to us full of fear and complaints. They don't want to sign fees, they don't want to disburse any kind of money. They just want 100% financing. Unfortunately, that's not the way of things, and you've got to put fuel in the car if you want it to run. But allow me to say right here that if you're looking for financing,

1) Always do your research. Research the background of your funder and make sure that they are who they say they are.

2) If you're in talks with a broker, see if they belong to any professional associations

3) Check the address! You'll be surprised at what a simple Google Maps check will discover - we know of people out there who call themselves funders or brokers and when you look up the address, they're working from a small apartment on a random street!

4) Beware of false promises. If what you are being promised sounds too good to be true, it is.

At the end of the day, sometimes it comes down to a gut feeling. Trust your instincts. This is why an honest merchant banker of financier will welcome the chance the meet either at their offices or via e-conferencing. Sometimes there are unsavory characters and there are plenty of scary stories out there of people who are cheated. While I'm certainly not part of The Fakers Club, I'm well aware of them and hope to have addressed them here.

Gilles Herard, Jr is a seasoned Merchant Banker and has been in the banking industry for nearly 40 years. He worked early in his career at the Toronto Dominion Bank (Canada) and later on joined Manufacturer Hanover (MH) of New York as Senior Credit Analyst. He eventually created his own Firm, Capital Corp Merchant Banking Orlando, where he syndicates and structures funding for top companies worldwide, all the while investing his own firm's funds into the projects.

As the head of Capital Corp Merchant Banking Orlando, Mr Herard has become a leading figure in international middle-market project financing and engineers all funding structures for projects at Capital Corp. Mr Herard has received numerous awards for his work and other contributions.