In the limelight:  South African entrepreneur Lyle Ryan Irwin’s focus on finance (Mattfin) and as a producer of events in the arts (LRI Productions)

Who: Lyle Ryan Irwin- South African entrepreneur – finance (Mattfin) and the arts (LRI Productions)
Website Mattfin:
Facebook LRI Productions:—entertainment/LRI-Productions-460470884781632/  

As we enter year three of the pandemic, Lyle Ryan Irwin is gearing up for a productive 2022. The Cape Town based entrepreneur is committed to helping clients to manage their finances and avoid debt and he is passionate about providing a viable platform for the performing arts with his company, LRI Productions. LRI’s first event for 2022- is in Cape Town – Come Dine @ Infinity World -in celebration of Valentine’s Day – on Sunday February 13, 2022- at Infinity Studios in Paarden Island. Link to the event: ‘Pivoting’ is a major mantra and prompt during these pandemic days. Talk is one thing but putting ideas into action, well, that takes vision and focus and Lyle Ryan Irwin is actively taking ideas into the worlds of finance and the arts.

Origin story

Lyle Ryan Irwin grew up in Kimberley. Seeking new opportunities, in 2006, he moved to Cape Town. He says: “As you know Kimberley is limited in growth and I was looking for a bigger and brighter future.” He started off studying law but took a break and stumbled on the world of bond origination and finance. The lure of high commissions piqued his interest: “I had seen an advert for bond origination. They were looking for consultants and I applied as there very high commissions on offer. In those years, one could earn very big commissions. The companies used to make 7.5% on a bond and uses to split that with us – the consultants – 50/50. On a R1 million bond, we earned R35, 000, 00 which was a lot of money in those days. We are talking 2003.  The market was very ripe so I tested it out and became an agent and was very good at it. I studied bond origination. Then I went onto study finance and I developed my skills.”

Bond origination and finance – in plain English

Can you explain what bond origination and finance is – in plain English? “Bond origination is a person who actually puts a deal together on your behalf and submits it to the bank on your behalf and does all the calculations, the costings. Our company works through the bank statements. We do the motivation, the income and expenses with the client and we deal with the agent. If you are buying the property, we also deal with the banks. All you need to do as an individual is sit back and relax. Our job and duty to our clients is to go to all the banks and fight for a good interest rate.”

In-house financing

Mattfin took on the role of providing finance, from the company’s coffers. “When I started with Mattfin we started with bond origination as well because our end goal is to take our clients back to the bank. At Mattfin, through our investment company, we have in-house finance. We can see to the bond ourselves. This enables us to take over the client’s bond from banks and settle all their outstanding loans. We consolidate all the debts so that the client has one repayment per month. This saves them thousands of rands. After a period of 6 -12 months, we hope to clear their names, fix their ITC [Information Trust Corporation -aka credit score] and remove judgements and adverse listings. We do our best to get clients a decent credit rating. This makes them eligible for a lower interest rate.”

Navigating debt in year three of the pandemic

We are at the beginning of 2021, 3nd year of the pandemic. Many people have drawn down on their mortgages and they are realising that they are in trouble. Advice? “In 2004, in the major recession, clients went into arrears. Interest rates starting climbing and climbing. People started default on smaller payments, their loans, credit cards, cars and bonds. This was obviously problematic for people with the debts but on the other side, there were people who wanted to buy houses but they had no credit rating. They may have not have paid a doctor’s account, years before and that doctor took a judgement which prevented them getting a bond at a bank. I spotted a market – to assist clients on both sides. We could help with multiple debts to consolidate debts and reclaim a good credit score and we could assist others without a credit score to buy properties. In the aftermath of the 2004 recession, in 2006, we set up helping clients, by facilitating personal loans. This assisted the client to fix a rating with a credit bureau and deal with judgement or defaults and help them get back into the formal banking system.”

Be aware of debt holidays

The pandemic has shattered finances. Advice? “We are in tears in the pandemic. Many people have been paid short time and retrenched. Many people have defaulted on payments. Many people have equity in their property. My advice to them is study the equity in their property. Look at what is needed to get you out of your debt situation. If you have enough equity in your property, apply to us. We can help to sort out the issues. It is important to make sure your assets are paid to the best of your ability. Keep your arrangements with your banks. If you can’t, go to the bank. Reach an agreement with the bank. During the pandemic, many people went on a payment holiday. It may have seemed a blessing, thinking- ‘oh I don’t need to pay’. The reality is: You need to pay. Your interest is just accumulating and growing and growing and in some cases now your payment is re-adjusted to a higher payment. After six months, that leads many clients to default.”

Providing a viable platform for the arts and events

What drew you to events – to become a producer of arts events? “It was the love of music and the love to see people enjoying themselves and having a good time, but not only that, it was how the artists and musicians enjoy entertaining people. I thought – this is a great platform -especially for up and coming artists- who are starting out. My aim is to build a company to give back to the community to help the less fortunate. There is so much talent. We have the finest talent here, in South Africa, but unfortunately, our musicians do not make the kind of money that the overseas musicians make. Our musicians are often better than the overseas musicians and as producer, I am there to make it happen.”

Finance and the arts: South African entrepreneur, Lyle Ryan Irwin runs several companies. Dovetailing with his financial acumen, his company LRI Productions, he is producing arts events and providing opportunities for established and emerging artists. LRI’s first event for 2022, is on February 13 in Cape Town:

✳This interview has been marginally edited for length and clarity. Images supplied.