The FORT Podcast: Simon Wagner – Founder @ Granite Oak – Compounding $1M to $250M in 10 years

Simon Wagner is the Founder and Managing Partner of Granite Oak, a private investment firm with over $250mm of assets across Real Estate and Venture Capital. His career spans more than 20 years of investing and entrepreneurship in financial markets and alternative investments.

On this episode, Chris and Simon discuss:

  • Working in mortgage-backed securities at Morgan Stanley in 2006
  • Developing his commercial mortgage thesis
  • The Irish real estate market
  • Planning & Entitlements

Listen on:
Apple Podcasts


(00:00:00) – Intro

(00:04:51) – Meeting Simon and his journey to the United States

(00:10:44) – Working in mortgaged-backed securities at Morgan Stanley in ’06

(00:24:35) – Forming the commercial mortgage thesis

(00:39:54) – Lending Lessons learned

(00:42:26) – Entering the Ireland market

(00:45:24) – Simon’s first deal

(00:56:25) – Irish vs. American loans

(00:57:13) – Simon’s portfolio today

(00:59:37) – Ireland’s influx of foreign capital and housing shortages

(01:07:21) – Fundraising

(01:13:53) – Planning and entitlements


Episode Summary

Starting from his unique early life experiences that led him to a career in finance, Simon’s transition into the real estate industry showcases his ability to leverage financial acumen to identify and capitalize on undervalued assets. His experiences at Morgan Stanley, particularly around the time of the financial crisis, offer invaluable insights into the challenges and opportunities within the financial markets.

The podcast delves into Simon’s strategic shift from structured products and mortgage-backed securities to real estate investment and development. This transition is not just a change in focus but a strategic move to capitalize on market inefficiencies and opportunities created by economic downturns. Simon’s approach to buying distressed assets and developing real estate in Ireland highlights his innovative and adaptive strategies in the face of complex market dynamics.

Simon’s ventures into commercial mortgage lending and real estate development, especially in Ireland’s challenging market, underscore his entrepreneurial spirit and ability to navigate bureaucratic and planning challenges. His efforts to address housing shortages and contribute to economic development through strategic real estate investments reflect a deep understanding of market needs and the importance of persistence and strategic partnerships.

Throughout the conversation, key themes emerge around the importance of strategic investment, market analysis, and the ability to adapt to changing market conditions. Simon Wagner’s story is a testament to the value of leveraging financial expertise in real estate, the potential of strategic market positioning, and the importance of resilience in the face of regulatory and economic challenges.

The FORT is produced by Johnny Podcasts

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