Bridging & Commercial Magazine - 35 Under 35 Power List

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ISSUE 7 JAN/FEB 2020

UNDER 35 POWER LIST

The industry’s most impressive list of young talent. Get inspired

+ Double figures p15


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Get in touch

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Acknowledgments Editor-in-chief Beth Fisher beth@medianett.co.uk Creative direction Beth Fisher Caron Schreuder Senior reporter Simon Thompson simon@medianett.co.uk Reporter Sam Monk sam@medianett.co.uk Sub editor Geoff St Louis geoff@medianett.co.uk Sales and marketing Caron Schreuder caron@medianett.co.uk Contributing photographer Alexander Chai Special thanks Matt Wells, M Public Relations Jimcy Labio, Platinum Rise Capital Partners David Bullock, Rhizome Media Alice Payne, Puma Investments Cordelia Jacob, Lansons Emily Murphy, Hampshire Trust Bank Cat Barrett, Octopus Real Estate Printing The Magazine Printing Company Design and image editing Russ Thirkettle, Carbide Finger Ltd Bridging & Commercial Magazine is published by Medianett Ltd Managing director Caron Schreuder caron@medianett.co.uk 3rd Floor, 71 Gloucester Place London W1U 8JW 0203 818 0160 Follow us @BandCNews


W

elcome to the Twenties, everyone. We’re only one month into the year, and already a lot has happened in the UK. Most notably, we saw Boris Johnson sign the withdrawal agreement which he said finally “brings to an end far too many years of argument and division”. We also witnessed an unsuccessful fundraising campaign to get Big Ben to bong for Brexit (although, excellent news, the funds were donated to Help for Heroes), the Duke and Duchess of Sussex step back as working members of the royal family, and the introduction of a winter version of ‘Love Island’. But that’s not what you’ve opened Bridging & Commercial to read about. Looking at what’s been going on recently in our specialist arena, we can see that the market is actively addressing the talent shortage we covered extensively last year. Last month, we were inundated with appointment news and ambitious expansion plans from brokers and lenders alike. To promote the benefits of attracting new blood, we decided that this issue’s cover story would focus on those under the age of 35 who we believe have made the biggest impact at their respective companies and on the wider industry [p42]. We were incredibly surprised by the achievements that flooded in, so hats off to everyone who made the Power List (you should be proud as we had to whittle it down twice due to the number of submissions). Elsewhere in this issue, we interviewed Alex Upton and Charles McDowell about how they have helped to double HTB’s specialist mortgages loan book [p14], Alan Cleary on creating a major lender—without anyone noticing [p70], and Vic Jannels and Adam Tyler discuss an association’s place in an ever-evolving market [p58]. We have also provided you with a glimpse into the receivership process [p76] after claims that the bridging market is seeing a surge in receivers being appointed, and an overview on how specialist finance could support the rising demand in the assisted and supported living sector [p28]. Will the bridging market experience more of a shake-up going forward? Signs point to yes. In 2019, the industry cried out for much-needed M&A activity to no avail. Yet, already this year, we have seen the first PE-backed MBO of a bridging lender. Will developments, ideas and initiatives that were toyed with in our previous issues finally come to fruition? While I don’t think the bridging sector in 2020 is going to be quite as ‘roaring’ as our country was a century ago, I do believe that, with a bit more certainty as of 31st January, it will be much more interesting than the past 12 months. And we can’t wait to cover it.

Beth Fisher Editor-in-chief

3 Jan/Feb 2020


We want our DIPs to actually be worth more than the paper they’re written on.�p14 4 Bridging & Commercial

6 10 14 20 28 34 42 58 76 82 86 88


The cut Products Exclusive One day View Zeitgeist Cover story Interview Explained People Limelight Backstory

Turning brokers into superheroes

Property investor bootcamp

Bridging assists again

New kids on the (housing) block

They’re how old?!

Vic & Adam / Alan Cleary

Receiverships on the rise

Your bridging wishlist

Chris Scott


6 Bridging & Commercial


The cut

What specialist finance product really made a difference to your business in 2019? Every day online, Bridging & Commercial breaks the news on exciting offerings from lenders within the specialist market. Looking back over the past 12 months, they all seem to blend into one. To find out what was more than just a headline, we ask brokers which products genuinely stood out for them and made a measurable, positive impact for their clients

7 Jan/Feb 2020


The cut

Edward Clark

Managing director at Uplift Finance I’m a big fan of Shawbrook’s ‘lending for refurbishment costs’ short-term product add-on. In addition to borrowing 75% LTV against the lower day-one purchase price or value, applicants can borrow up to 100% of the refurb costs on a single, larger facility for light refurbishment projects. It’s the highest LTV I’m aware of, at a reasonable rate. All my clients have been able to increase their ROI significantly with this additional leverage. The funder will accept rolled-up, part-serviced or fully serviced interest. I had an instance with a full-time developer who was not showing much income on their SA302s (a statement given by HMRC that provides evidence of earnings) purely due to timings around the tax year. Shawbrook was able to take a view and consider this, along with income present on his bank statements, to agree fully serviced interest. The client, therefore, only needed to put down 15%, further boosting his return. Hats off to the flexibility.

Dale Jannels

Managing director at Impact Specialist Finance Aldermore’s over-55 mortgage product allowed a maximum age of 85 at application. This unique offering had rates from 3.38%, up to 75% LTV (with interestonly at 60% LTV) and did not require the broker to be equity release qualified. While the pilot scheme for this was concluded last year, the offering created an amazing amount of column inches. It was also great for educating consumers, highlighting that they may be able to get a normal mortgage later in life, when many still believe that this is not possible. When a lender contacts a client towards the end of their 25-year, interest-only mortgage, not many recommend seeking professional advice for further options. Instead, the main request is repayment of the mortgage. Therefore, this type of guidance should be a major target in 2020. 8 Bridging & Commercial

Kim McGinley Director at VIBE Finance

For us, it was a recent addition to our offering in the form of an overdraft-type flexible loan facility secured on a client’s commercial/residential property portfolio. It’s ideal for our experienced investor clients who require quick access to drawdown funds, without the need for additional set-up charges each time a loan is required, and where flexibility is paramount.


The cut

John Waddicker

Director at Positive Commercial Finance

Shazad Ahmed

Property finance specialist at GPS Financial Limited

Jimmy Baillie

Managing director at Silver Oak Capital There is a strong demand for high LTV loans (80-90%) from a lot of wealthy business owners based offshore. As these individuals generally have a high annual income, they would easily be able to afford the loan at the higher LTV. They also, generally, don’t mind amortising the dayone loan to a more manageable LTV level, say 60–65% over the course of the term. This structure, coupled with the benefit of a personal guarantee from the owner, should significantly de-risk the deal for the bank. There are various tax and income implications for minimising the day-one deposit when purchasing a prime residential property. While there is a product available like this, I feel that it should be considered by more lenders as the demand is there.

In 2019, we saw a surge in lenders opening up their policies to allow short-term lets, also known as serviced accommodation. This has been great for me as many of the investors I work with are letting out their properties on a short-term basis via portals such as Airbnb and Booking.com. I can now offer them an appropriate product and it means they are happy and not in breach of any mortgage conditions. Win-win! The key lenders I’ve worked with have been Foundation Home Loans and Masthaven— both of whom will still assess affordability as a single let—and also Hampshire Trust Bank who, as a more commercial lender, can consider the short-term let income.

The one which stood out for us in 2019 was a 100% funded ‘true’ JV product for residential property developments, where the net profits were split equally, even if the realised net profit was less than the projected net profit. In addition, the developer did not have to provide a personal guarantee. With too many JV deals, developers can see their profit share eroded very quickly if sales do not happen in good time, with the ongoing interest burden hitting them heavily in the pocket, while the funder’s portion remains intact. This true JV really is a partnership, as opposed to most where the developer is working for the funder.

9 Jan/Feb 2020


Hampshire Trust Bank

Specialist mortgages • reduced minimum loan size from £200,000 to £100,000 • this reduction is in response to feedback from HTB’s brokers and borrowers

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Referral service • consists of regulated and non-regulated referrals on bridging, commercial, later life lending, specialist residential, BTL and other areas of the specialist lending market • geared towards offering broker partners and their clients easier access to specialist advice on complex cases

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Exclusive

Double figures Last year, Hampshire Trust Bank (HTB) relaunched its specialist mortgages offering, with plans to bolster its broker channels and become a dominant force in the market.The overarching strategy was to do this without lowering rates or moving up the risk curve. Almost one year on, the pair behind this division—Alex Upton, sales director, and Charles McDowell, managing director— have helped increase its loan book twofold

Words by

simon thompson

Photography

alexANDER chai

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Exclusive

in the place of people,” Alex reassures. Year-on-year, the division has seen measurable success. It has doubled its loan book, its revenues are up by around 90% and it now supports more than 1,000 property investors—all without touching rates. “We have not moved up the risk curve. We are very adamant we’re not doing that,” Charles points out. Alex asserts that flexibility and reliability is increasingly becoming more of a top-line priority for brokers and their clients. Quality of service may be an easy mantle to claim, but it is a lot harder to measure. I ask them to get into the granular details about what they has changed at HTB to achieve these results. Alex highlights that the bank’s decisions in principle (DIPs) now have much quicker turnaround times—from four days to less than 24 hours. “There’s a classic saying in [the] industry: ‘A quick no is sometimes just as good as a yes.’” Alex adds that when it says it’s going to do something, it does so with the rate that it offered. “There’s no moving the goalposts halfway through. We know that is a massive issue in the industry.” She explains that delivering these DIPs has meant bringing in its underwriter and credit teams to go over them on the front end of transactions before they are returned to brokers. “We want our DIPs to actually be worth more than the paper they’re written on.” Charles adds that another significant enhancement has been the way it manages its partners and legal processes. He says they have daily pipeline calls with their lawyers to go through different cases and work through any roadblocks. In a lot of cases, he says the bank takes the lead, managing its brokers, valuers and legal partners in the same way it would if they were working in the office as HTB employees. If there is an issue or a slowdown in legals, or any other kinks in the chain, then all parties in the transaction are impacted. Alex mentions that the fact brokers are willing to introduce their clients to a lender charging a little more in terms of interest rate indicates just how valued quality of service has become. When we interviewed Alex at the beginning of last year, she told Bridging & Commercial that HTB was “targeting the masses”, with a vision to dramatically increase originations and distribution. While it inked agreements with five networks and has multiplied its distribution from 130 brokers in December 2018, to 500 as of December 2019, she says it has since modified its onboarding approach. Now it is more about working with intermediaries who

spent an afternoon at HTB’s offices, followed by an excursion to London’s Tower Bridge—where, by the time this goes to print, it will have hosted a party for its partners—to chat about the successes of 2019 and get a better understanding of its ambition to create more of a productless offering going forward. Arriving at the HQ on Bishopsgate, I meet Charles. Alex arrives fashionably late in the wake of the month-long December train strikes. While the bank has been around for more than 40 years, Alex and Charles were brought in 18 months ago to shake up and redefine its specialist mortgages offering. Alex explains that, at the beginning of their tenure, they reviewed everything: rates, the broker panel, internal processes, and the products. Despite rates becoming a lot more competitive over the past year, Alex says they wanted to maintain theirs and, instead, took the decision to enhance speed and quality of service. Charles states that the bank tried to view things from a broker perspective, assessing and resolving any potential points of frustration in the process. It has been able to do this by utilising simple tech tools, such as e-signature options. “That by no means is putting technology 16 Bridging & Commercial


Exclusive

“We will empower the broker. We will turn the broker into [a] superhero for their client—they will be able to structure their own deal”


Exclusive

18 Bridging & Commercial


Exclusive

are active in the specialist arena. “You could get flooded with lots of [brokers who] want to come on board, [but] they’re never going to work with you.” Alex says that it has now developed a dedicated process and consulted with the networks to find the top 20% of firms that HTB should be engaging with. As a result, carefully selecting its pool of specialist intermediaries has emboldened the bank to get more input and direction from them, especially when it comes to innovation and the refinement of its offering. “It’s listening to what the broker wants, as opposed to all of us staring at each other around the table trying to forecast what’s going to happen.” In preparation of the year ahead, HTB has increased the specialist mortgages department from 20 to 45 staff, fleshing out the underwriting, credit and business development teams. “…It’s not just about having the right people, it’s about empowering them and having that culture there,” Charles highlights, adding that you need to let the team build relationships and have the right kind of interaction with clients. As a reporter who draws heavily on charismatic and forthcoming brokers to uncover stories, I can see how Charles and Alex’s wit and easy, downto-earth approach could attract new business and retain team members. Banks operating in the specialist space are often seen as constrained by FCA and PRA regulations—basically, less nimble. Charles says that some people often forget that HTB is a bank, but suggests it is for good reason. “[If] you compare us to some of the other banks out there, who are these broadswords, we are a surgeon’s scalpel.” While last year was all about improving the operations across the business, Charles says that in 2020 it will be handing the keys to its broker partners. As a result, HTB will be combining its resource and reliability of being a bank with an even more dynamic service and a bespoke product offering. Charles adds that it is keen to develop into more of a “productless” lender, which is more akin to the service that customers usually only get from private banks. “We will empower the broker. We will turn the broker into [a] superhero for their client—they will be able to structure their own deal.” After the interview, we take a taxi to London Bridge for the photoshoot [ed: where it rained non-stop] and to get a glance of where the bank will be throwing its party to kick off a year dedicated to “empowering the broker”. Once inside the walkway in the east limb of the bridge, Alex and Charles turn to each other and wince a little. “Is this going to be enough space to get all the brokers in?” 19 Jan/Feb 2020


One Day

ONE DAY

At a property investment event Nowadays, you can’t scroll through a Facebook,YouTube or LinkedIn feed without seeing a property entrepreneur promoting an event to showcase their success strategies. With some attracting hundreds of attendees, these investment clubs are channelling numerous new borrowers into the specialist finance space. I spent a day at one to see who was there and why—and what exactly they were learning

Words by

simon thompson


One Day

Premier Property Club event at Millennium Hotel, Knightsbridge


One Day

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ew, starry-eyed investors who are looking to profit from the UK’s property market should start with at least a sufficient level of knowledge—especially if they are looking to take out specialist finance to fund their projects. There is no shortage of avenues for investors to glean pearls of wisdom from those willing to share in forum-style gatherings all over the country, eager to ensure that that ‘prime opportunity’ is not lost. It seems that, while professional advice is preferable, it has never been a better time to go out and seek the knowledge yourself. In my quest to find out what exactly goes on at these ubiquitous events, I attended one called Finance Hotseat, put on by Premier Property Club at the Millenium Hotel in Knightsbridge. The premise is simple: meet and hear from a selection of people experienced in the sector. In the lobby, I meet Monika Makuszewska, a Polish national running a property investment company appropriately named Investment in Properties. Her business model is straightforward: find property deals for people and charge a fee for setting them up. She admits that she is still learning the ins and outs of the market and her company is at an embryonic stage. Currently looking for good opportunities in the London residential space, such as HMOs and serviced apartments, she is here to learn, but also to network with potential investors. When I ask her about her experience with bridging, she confesses that she knows very little. Sat in the adjacent chair is Brian Croucher. He states that, for three years, he used to buy a house on the last Friday of every month. This was before the credit crunch. While he still owns 23 of them, he claims that landlords have been hit hard by BTL regulations. He attends these events to meet potential clients for Mortgage Securitisation Claims Ltd (MSC), a business which identifies flaws in how banks have securitised loans to help people reduce the size of their mortgages. Brian is also here to spot new trends, claiming that this is one of the better events. By the time we finish chatting and enter the conference room, I notice it is full of cheerful people, shaking hands and networking. It feels easy to strike up conversation. Talking to Kam Dovedi, founder of Premier Property Club and the person fronting the event, I find him to be a charming, upbeat guy with a winning smile. I ask him about the type of investor that comes to these events. He breaks it down: 20% are in the property market with assets or portfolios in the million-pound range, 15% are experienced investors on the lookout for new strategies, while 5% are high-net-worth individuals who usually attend when the event is dedicated to a niche area or specific topic. He says that the remaining 60% are new to the space. Kam highlights that he doesn’t give financial advice, and Premier Property Club makes money via memberships and one-on-one mentoring programmes, often sold off the back of an event. Tickets for today are only £25. Kam says a typical first acquisition for a number of investors that attend these events is a property under £50,000, with many of them using bridging finance. “They usually take tired properties which were ready for refurb and bring them back into good quality stock.” My conversation with Kam means I am late for a presentation by Peter Vandervennin, independent mortgage adviser. The group is working through the specifics of how mortgage deals can be structured. As he finishes up, Premier Property Club community host Nick Drewitt launches into a sales pitch for its upcoming

22 Bridging & Commercial


One Day

Brian Croucher

Kam Dovedi, the leader and face of Premier Property Club

23 Jan/Feb 2020


One Day

event on below-market properties. He reveals that VIP access and front-row seats can be obtained for £999 and it also offers mentoring for a few thousand pounds per annum, depending on the amount of guidance required. One attendee tells me she pays around £8,000 per annum for what she called a medium-level membership and guidance. Nick takes a short break and I turn to Jefelda Aquino, an attendee sitting beside me. She tells me she is an accountant for a property development company, but was interested in investing herself. Jefelda has been intrigued by property for about a year and has bought one so far. She says they train you on how to source your first investment property and how the numbers work. She explains that she is ready to pull the trigger on the purchase of her second property, but wants more information on different loan structures, which is why she’s here. Nick now starts asking attendees to write down their questions about short-term finance, in particular, on paper cue cards for Patrick Somerville-Large, lending manager at Commercial Acceptances, and Kam. On my other side is property investor Zemar Dajani, who asks a question about different interest rates on a commercial mortgage. Patrick and Kam are soon inundated with queries, which are divided between them in accordance with their varied and overlapping expertise. If the nature of the questions asked is any indication of investors’ sophistication, it’s a broad spread with many going over my head. The more basic ones include: what is short-term finance? Is it possible to obtain it without income? Why do I need short-term rather than long-term finance? Can I bridge the deposit and mortgage the rest? Can I get 100% finance? Someone asks how to buy multiple properties without putting any money down and sends the whole room into laughter. I quiz Jefelda on whether she has been to other property investment events and how this one compares. She confirms that this is one of the good ones and continues to tell me about some bad experiences at others, including one which she paid £3,000 to attend. She confesses that they were just overselling and pressuring people to sign up then and there. Zemar says she pays to be part of Kam’s ‘inner circle’ and receives one-on-one attention. “…Whenever I have a deal, he helps me make sure that I have the numbers right,” she states. Peter says he generates a proportion of his leads through these events, but admits that he has concerns that some of the other property clubs and ‘training courses’ are taking advantage of naïve investors. He explains that clients who he sources from reputable events, such as this one, and who are new to the market, often need looking after. “…All they see is profit margins, and [it’s often] not logical.” He claims it is common to find them overestimating the feasibility of exit routes. If an inexperienced property investor takes out a bridging loan, higher interest rates and more complicated fees can make the consequences of poorly considered decisions far greater. Therefore, brokers dealing with new investors like these have an even greater responsibility and duty of care. As the event wraps up, I ask Brian what value these kinds of events offer new property investors. He says it is an opportunity to network with people that are more experienced. “…Get involved, talk to people, find someone who’s done what they want to do and copy them. That is the best way to get into property.”

24 Bridging & Commercial


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Solution to another A

ssisted living properties are specifically designed or adapted for people who require a specialised service to enable them to live independently, as an alternative to a care home, while still being able to access comparable levels of support. This sort of housing is offered by private registered providers under an agreement with the NHS. Population projections by the Office of National Statistics reveal that this space is going to see more demand in decades to come. The proportion of those aged 85 years and over in the UK is forecast to almost double over the next 25 years. To put this into context, in mid-

Words by

simon thompson

28 Bridging & Commercial

2018, there were 1.6 million people in this demographic. By mid-2043, this is set to increase to three million. Looking at other nations, such as the USA, Australia and New Zealand, the percentage of older people in assisted living is around 5%. In the UK, the figure stands at just 0.5%. Savills attributes the disparity to an undersupply, noting that the UK property sector has prioritised other areas of the market. With investors attracted by the demographic projections and current undersupply, Savills reports that investment levels within the assisted living sector are on the rise. Elsewhere, magnifying the need for


View

With demand for assisted and supported living strong and projected to grow exponentially over the next two decades, many stakeholders now treat the conversion of traditional residential property into this type of leased housing as “gilt-edged investments”—and a seemingly perfect niche for bridging finance. To find out more about this area, we decided to uncover the risks and rewards—so you don’t have to

supported living property is the growing demand from people with a disability. Mencap research predicts that this is likely to increase by more than 35% by 2030. Opportunity for specialist brokers The facilities required in assisted living properties are, in many cases, fairly similar to traditional residential, which is why this could be a sound option for landlords, and their brokers, looking to convert or sell their stock. They are largely self-contained flats with their own front door and staff on call to provide personal care and support services. Ranjeev Kumar, partner and head of real estate finance at Watson Farley & Williams, claims he has seen a “boom” in this space due to assisted and supported

living schemes being backed by public policy, a regulatory framework, a maturing private sector provision and a growing number of funding options and exit strategies. He says that the need for only light or cosmetic refurbishment (which often does not require planning), and the prospect of quick turnarounds, landlordfriendly leases and clear exit options, the sector is of growing interest to specialist lenders. “[Bridging] finance is absolutely perfect for assisted living and supported living schemes because the turnaround is so quick and the exit is very well defined.” Higher yields Leases entered into with registered providers, which offer accommodation

with assisted living facilities and services to tenants, can typically bring in much higher rents compared with traditional BTL properties. Ranjeev explains that while some of this housing is commissioned by local authorities, the majority is now run by lease-based registered providers such as housing associations. These organisations operate a model where they lease the converted properties from private landlords. Anecdotally, a landlord may receive £600 per month from renting a property on the traditional rental market, or lease to a housing association and potentially receive, on average, £250 per tenant per week. These leases are typically long

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“The urgent nature of local demand can mean that it is more practical to adapt existing properties” term (20 to 25 years), usually without any breaks, and incorporate regular upward-only rent reviews. Ranjeev says they can make assisted living properties look like “gilt-edged investments” to REITs (real estate investment trusts)— which landlords may choose to sell them on to once the leases are in place. Chris Oatway, managing director at LDNfinance, notes that bridging finance can often be pivotal for assisted living conversions. “Funding can be challenging on these types of assets and bridging finance can often be crucial when commercial lenders are not able to provide funding on acquisition. This can often be the case if it is a new business with no track record, if the property needs work to convert it or if the asset was bought in a situation where speed is essential.” Triple Point Social Housing REIT buys assisted living sites, many of them conversions from traditional residential properties. Of the 365 properties it owns, over 200 have been repurposed for specialised supported housing. According to Alexander Precious, investment manager at Triple Point, the conversions are supporting the expanding health and care space. “The urgent nature of local demand can mean that it is more practical to adapt existing properties.” He adds that, in some locations, limitations or local restrictions mean they can’t be built at all. Alexander claims that converting properties can save vulnerable tenants from staying in less appropriate and

often more expensive accommodation, such as long-stay hospitals, for more time than they should. Triple Point has facilities for over 2,000 people with learning disabilities, autism, mental health issues or physical disabilities. Alexander says that there does need to be capacity to install assistive technology where required to support a resident’s independence, and sometimes they need to have wider corridors for easier access. David Higson, investment director at Blackfinch Property, explains that the demand isn’t necessarily universal, as local authorities often have specific requirements. “…It needs to be in an accessible location for any support, ie probably not in a very remote rural location.” He says that the accommodation also needs to be fairly discreet, so as to ensure privacy for vulnerable adults and to provide a degree of protection. Tony Throp, investment director at Puma Property Finance, adds that, generally, being near to local amenities, such as shops and transport links, is important, as is having outside space. Locations where residents can be easily integrated into the local community have real value. While the Regulator of Social Housing acknowledges that private investment plays an important role in supporting much-needed growth and sustainable development of the specialised supported housing sector and “positively impacts the lives of very vulnerable people in our society”, it is resolute that only a 30

Bridging & Commercial

well-maintained property that meets all the appropriate health and safety standards and is fit for purpose with the necessary adaptations to suit a specific tenant’s needs can be occupied. A number of different lenders I contacted stated that they did not lend on assisted living conversions. This was due to it being an unusual asset type, and they preferred to deal with ground-up developments in the sector—or they simply haven’t been introduced to such cases. A more secure exit? Longer leases and the underlying income associated with social government-funded rents give these types of conversions well-established exits, according to Ranjeev. This is especially so if the lender can assess and prove councils’ demand beforehand. Tony says that, from a lending perspective, if a scheme has an exit from a buyer prior to providing a loan, this naturally de-risks the refinancing. It is a growing niche area that Stephen Wasserman, former managing director at West One Loans, is taking a closer look at and aiming to move into. He says he has seen the assisted conversion space grow in the wake of the challenges that housing associations are facing in finding suitable accommodation and specialist requirements for different tenants. Despite the attractiveness of the sector, Ranjeev advises caution. He claims that this sector has come under close scrutiny with regard to the quality of accommodation and care provided to who are, often, vulnerable people. More regulation may be on its way. Ranjeev adds that expert advice is essential. There is a well-developed eco-system which requires specialist understanding and input: developers, investors, residents, suppliers, employees, lenders, registered providers, operators, local authorities and the Care Quality Commission all have their own particular requirements, and the challenge is to be able to navigate these myriad interests as safely and efficiently as possible. While tighter regulation could be on the horizon for assisted living housing, demand is certainly going to grow. I am told that forward funding new-build accommodation alone cannot address the deficit. Therefore, conversions— with the help of bridging finance— could become an even bigger part of the solution. Brokers that can spot the feasibility of this can add value to clients who are looking for an opportunity to offload their BTL portfolios or earn more on underperforming assets—in addition to providing much needed housing to those with complex needs.


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After more than 45 years and 59,000* bridging loans, very little fazes our experienced team. So no matter how complex the case, you can trust us to apply the same flexible and pragmatic approach we always have – meaning we can often accept cases that others struggle with. Whether it’s regulated or commercial lending your client needs, we’re the bridging loan experts you need.

Speak to your BDM or visit togethermoney.com/bridging For professional intermediary use only. *Includes unregulated and regulated bridging loan applications over 34 years.



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Ones to watch: Five MMCs revolutionising housebuilding Words by

simon thompson To plug the UK’s housing shortfall, our government will need to put all the resources which are on offer towards its goal of 300,000 new homes per year by the mid-2020s. As part of this, Esther McVey, minister of state for housing and planning, has pledged to bring modern methods of construction (MMC) to the forefront and make the country a world leader in modular building within the next 10 years. Set to be a monumental growth area, we take a look at innovations in the property development sphere which are slowly coming to the surface, and get a feel for whether they could truly disrupt traditional approaches 34 Bridging & Commercial


Images: Constructions-3D

3D-PRINTED HOMES 3D-printed houses are made out of cement, sand and additives, and constructed through incremental printed layers placed upon one another. The construction is delivered by a pre-mapped trajectory and managed through computer-modelling. According to Constructions-3D—a French company which specialises in these solutions—automated printed systems mean that buildings can be completed extremely quickly, with minimal manpower. Dini Enrico, CEO at D-Shape—a business in Italy which focuses on the design of 3D-printed homes—adds that it can also eliminate uncertainties in the interpretation of drawings. With an automatic construction system, the execution times are said to be reduced by 25%. 3D-technology companies, such as Constructions-3D, primarily concentrate on printing the building’s frame structures and revert to traditional methods when it comes to roofs and fittings. D-Shape’s building technique is used to print a house in its entirety—from the foundations up to the roof. There are a number of environmental benefits associated with 3D-printing, such as the reduction of onsite logistics resulting in less waste due to only one material being used. In the long term, this technology is expected to allow housebuilders to utilise local materials leading to a reduced carbon impact and lower ratio of cement used. In terms of end-user energy use, more flexibility in designs could allow for higher levels of heat retention and more efficient cooling. With this method of housebuilding still at an early stage of development, it does face ongoing challenges. Dini notes that weather conditions can complicate 3D-printing operations. In the same vein, Dini claims the interdisciplinary nature of mixing robotics and cement can make it hard to find digitally skilled carpenters. While there is not much progress currently in the 3D-printed housing space in the UK, it is a MMC with the potential to enhance the speed and sustainability of housebuilding in the future.

35 Jan/Feb 2020


Zeitgeist

PANELISED MODULAR BUILDING SYSTEMS Panels are manufactured and then transported to construction sites, where they are clicked and glued together to form the fabric of buildings. The components can be delivered in bulk to construct homes of any shape and size. Steve Wilkie, director at modern housebuilder Built & Spaces, says this means there are few restrictions in terms of the types of buildings and designs for the end user. “The same systems can be applied to all kinds of dwellings and office space, giving it huge flexibility. Extra rooms can be added at the click of a button, offering unparalleled customisation.” This is in contrast to entirely prefabricated housing, which can only be as wide as the road that will carry them to their final destination, according to Joseph Daniels, CEO at modular developer Project Etopia. The key benefit of using panels is faster build times. They can often be assembled to create a house in a much shorter timeframe compared with conventional bricks-and-mortar homes. Steve adds that Built & Spaces can deliver a project that would traditionally take 18 months in as little as eight weeks. With regard to the environment, he explains that its component-led system can dramatically

reduce the amount of waste created during manufacture and construction. He claims that the construction of a onebedroom, new-build house can produce 6.5 tonnes of waste on average, while its property creates just 65kg. “Everything we do is about minimising waste and adding value to every home.” Steve argues that panelised systems are key to meeting the government’s new-build targets. He claims that modern housebuilders are faster, more efficient and can deliver a higher-quality product for the same cost, compared with traditional developers. “We have no interest in artificially keeping property prices sky high,” he adds. However, Joseph notes that because the technology is so new, it is difficult to prove that MMC homes can last the hundreds of years that traditional houses have. “This can make it harder to demonstrate to funders that they are investing in a product that lasts as long as the houses they usually invest in.” The Building Research Establishment’s (BRE) development of a new certification standard for modular homes could be a watershed moment for the off-site construction industry. Joseph says this could go a long way towards addressing funders’ concerns.

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Zeitgeist

SCREW PILING Screw piles are a steel ground anchoring system used for building deep foundations, as a substitute for traditional concrete on low-rise buildings. This can be rapidly installed with the volume of labour required massively reduced compared with traditional methods. It sidesteps the need, expense and skill of machinery—such as excavators, dump trucks, concrete wagons and mixers—which are a prerequisite for conventional foundations. Richard Thompson, head of construction at Platinum Rise Capital Partners, explains that this can also lead to major eco benefits, as concrete, which is used in the foundations of many developments, has far-reaching negative environmental impacts. Due to the fact that screw piles can be driven much closer and through tree route systems, it is said to support the conservation of trees,

as concrete footings often damage roots. Richard claims that, in some cases, they can even be installed using a hand-held piling machine, depending on the size of the development. Although there isn’t an initial cost benefit, the main advantage is the time saved, leading to a quicker return on the building. Richard claims that the key challenges to its broader use in the UK is less about quality and feasibility, and more about how it is perceived. “The challenge is educating the industry [about] this technology and promoting the benefits. It is more common on low-rise buildings and isn’t seen as an alternative to concrete piles

on large commercial developments.” Edward Clark, managing director at Uplift Finance, says he is seeing more deals involving MMC. He claims that lenders’ reluctance to fund such deals is due to unfamiliarity. “There’s a difference between risk and the unknown. Banks don’t like the unknown. But risk can be observed and measured; it can be priced in.” He explains that as knowledge and awareness increases, the various risks of MMC can be defined— and then “you can mitigate them”.

37 Jan/Feb 2020


Zeitgeist CROSS-LAMINATED TIMBER Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is formed using small sections of timber bonded together with permanent adhesives. Imperfections, such as knots, are removed in the factory to reduce variability and enhance structural performance. It is formed into panels through layers glued perpendicularly to each another to deliver strength across two dimensions. Akeel Malik, fund manager at Urban Splash Residential Fund, says it uses CLT in some of its developments. While Akeel believes it is too early to measure the cost advantages of building with it, the quality and eco benefits are already obvious. “In terms of end use, CLT is a much more sustainable material than traditional options, like steel and concrete, thanks to the fact that it’s ideal for insulation, retaining heat in the winter and letting the building breath in the summer. Inevitably, we’ll face challenges as we move forward, but right now it’s a really impressive material to use.” He says there will need to be more confidence in and uptake of it if UK housing is to see the benefits of broader adoption. Edward has arranged a handful of deals using CLT. “To do them, you have to fund the deposit for the build yourself. And you may need to use a lender with a very high interest rate. I’ve seen it double from 6% to 12%.” He speculates that with the coming sea change in construction methods and eco-minded initiatives, being traditional may not be the secured, favoured option for much longer.

Images: Urban Splash

Images: Carpe Diem Properties

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Zeitgeist

AIRSPACE DEVELOPMENT Airspace development allows you to lower and install prefabricated buildings on top of existing properties, opening up ‘above building space’ for the creation of residential and commercial occupancies. With a shortage of sites for conventional builds within cities such as London, airspace projects effectively create more viable spaces. As construction is upward, modular builds, where structures can be manufactured off site and lifted into place, are commonly favoured. Ed Hector, managing director at Carpe Diem Properties, which delivers airspace schemes, explains that such projects are also constructed using structured panels, light gauge steel frames, CLT and hybrid approaches. He points out that the main benefits of this MMC includes enhanced procurement lead times, construction

delivery periods, reduced impact on neighbours and shorter borrowing terms. By being on top of existing buildings, the new housing can potentially offer better views—an attractive proposition for buyers and lenders. Paul O’Kane, senior manager at Puma Property Finance, highlights that, for lenders, the value and market for new airspace property is proven by the existing properties and associated infrastructure below. He expects to see growth in this market as more freeholders make their buildings available for this type of project. However, Ed argues that airspace development is not always practical. Structural buildings need to be able to withstand increased loads. This requires significant due diligence to be carried out prior to planning. In addition, consideration must be given to party wall agreements with adjoining neighbours. Paul also points

out that as the MMC sector is relatively new, there are ongoing challenges when it comes to the delivery of deals, especially when it comes to insurance and legals. “The legal documentation is very technical, as is the due diligence around this and guidance required from solicitors. It’s important developers are aware of the time and costs in this regard.” He adds that special care is also needed to make sure all aspects and parties involved are insured, particularly as it’s not a standard building site and the freeholder owns the building below. While Puma is one lender with an appetite for airspace projects, Ed claims that there is still a disconnect between development finance, mortgages, insurers and warranty providers.

39 Jan/Feb 2020



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Cover story

UNDER 35

POWER LIST In a bid to attract new and younger people to all areas of the specialist finance industry, we wanted to showcase some of our market’s biggest success stories— all of whom are under the age of 35. We were so overwhelmed with submissions highlighting truly astonishing achievements, in such a short space of time, that we had to narrow our selection of rising stars twice, amid much debate in the office. Bridging & Commercial carefully handpicked every single person who made it on to this list, with a particular emphasis on how their triumphs have also benefited the wider sector contributing to our decisions. Interestingly, we found that there are still a notable number of companies that do not employ anyone under the age of 35—despite wide coverage in 2019 that the pool of skilled workers is not keeping pace with the escalating number of lenders. We need the next generation to learn about our market in order for it to continue growing and we hope this Power List acts as a stark reminder to those that are hiring that empowering the succeeding wave of specialists will not only support your business’s growth, but could very well propel it to new heights

43 Jan/Feb 2020


Cover story

Lauren Gill Head of internal sales at Octopus Real Estate Age: 30 Notable achievements:

Calum Waite Senior underwriter at Funding 365 Age: 27 Notable achievements: As an underwriter, Calum’s passion for delivering the best possible funding solutions in order to save intermediaries and their clients time and money has prompted brokers to describe him as “first class” and “the best underwriter of his generation”. Above and beyond that, as the first hire in Funding 365’s graduate scheme, Calum has helped to form and develop its business in a number of critical ways. His influence on the underwriting team has helped to shape its approachable, can-do culture and he makes sure that he is always available to give advice and support to the graduates who joined after him. Alongside another senior team member, he introduced an internal underwriter forum which encourages continual improvement of Funding 365’s processes and procedures in order to deliver outstanding speed and service and make intermediaries’ jobs easier. He is also integral to the research and development of new products helping to identify gaps in the market and working to deliver solutions to give brokers and clients more choice, such as the recent flexible three-year products. All of this has led the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers (NACFB) to identify Calum as one of last year’s industry rising stars.

How they got into the industry: Calum knew that he was going to work in property finance from a young age, having grown up watching his property professional mum manage countless refurbishment projects. After working on building sites and gaining a 2:1 in business and economics, he joined Funding 365 as a graduate underwriter.

Craig Taylor Head of specialist lending at One 77 Mortgages Age: 31 Notable achievements: One 77 has become a truly full service brokerage since Craig joined the business two years ago. Previously, specialist business was referred out to third-party packagers but, in order to meet the company’s growth plans, it was essential that this was brought in-house. Craig has been responsible for the training of the main adviser pool in opportunity-spotting for bridging and commercial business, which has allowed the department to grow organically with very little spend on marketing. A focus on the upskilling of existing staff, re-education of the introducer base and going out and asking for business has seen the team grow from one to four in two years. In his first 12 months, One 77 was shortlisted for Broker Best Newcomer at the B&C Awards 2019 which, while being incredibly flattering, validated both the level of service and client care the team provides. Craig has driven the no-fee model for specialist broking and continues to be a major market disruptor supporting One 77’s core belief that great advice can be offered with no charge to the client. At 31, he feels he is just getting started and believes his drive and passion will continue to deliver fantastic client results, bring positive change to the industry and help to support the continued growth of the specialist market in the years to come.

How they got into the industry: Craig started his career with London & Country in Bath, before completing various roles within Lloyds Bank. He cut his teeth in the bridging and commercial world with SPF, before being one of the original brokers at Clifton Private Finance. Craig set up the specialist lending department at One 77 in February 2018.

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Lauren is spearheading improvements across all aspects of the broker journey, eliminating any friction by upgrading the systems to make Octopus’s application process one of the best in the market. Having identified the need for a technology-enabled business, she is working closely with Octopus technology specialists to look at ways to improve the platform and ensure that Octopus Real Estate will be at the forefront of service in the industry. Lauren is hugely supportive of new starters and has implemented a brand-new training programme in the sales team, but also more widely across the business. She ensures that everyone reaches their potential by tailoring training to complement their individual needs and introducing career development levels. As an enthusiastic advocate of wellness at work, and the impact it has on productivity and the overall health and happiness of her colleagues, Lauren actively carves out time to support and promote this to others in the business. Lauren supports the local community outside of Octopus, including coordinating a volunteer programme and running a work experience programme. As an elected member of the Octopus shadow board, Lauren is responsible for making Octopus a better place to work and, for Lauren, 2020 will be the year of delivery. All improvements and initiatives that she has been working on to date will come to market and make Octopus Real Estate a fantastic place to work, and force to be reckoned with.

How they got into the industry: Lauren first joined Octopus in 2013 working on the retail fundraising side of Octopus Investments, promoting investment into various sectors, including property. It was in this role she found her love for the property market and how it engaged investors. Four years ago, Lauren made the internal move to Octopus Real Estate.


Guy Harrington CEO and founder of Glenhawk Age: 33 Notable achievements:

Melissa Tallon Solicitor and partner in the bridging and specialist finance team at Lightfoots Age 29 Notable achievements: She has been hugely instrumental working alongside Joe Middleton in the rapid growth of Lightfoots’ bridging team over the past five years, resulting in her promotion to head of bridging within three years of joining and partner a year later. Melissa now leads a team of over 30 while maintaining her own fee-earning status—one that has seen her consistently lead the way in billing and cases completed over the past two years. Her reputation is such that her involvement is often specifically requested by not just borrowers, but also brokers and lenders, all of whom want her inclusion, knowing that the detail and efficiency of her work and exceptional response times can only enhance the journey of all parties.

How they got into the industry: After joining Lightfoots’ lender services team, Melissa quickly found herself acting for the firm’s then major lender clients. Demonstrating all the right attributes to work in that sector, she was then often deployed to head up any new team as further clients engaged Lightfoots.

Natasha and Rochelle Yea Co-founders of Next Route Finance Limited Age: 28 and 32 Notable achievements: Having not previously worked as brokers, nor having any experience in running a business, they started their company from scratch and had to learn and implement everything; with no known systems and lender relationships, everything came from hard work and pure determination to bring something new to this space. Operating from Devon, as opposed to a busy city, has been somewhat challenging for the duo, however, the business has grown predominately via word of mouth and repeat business year-on-year. They pride themselves on customer service and honesty within the industry. By not taking a transactional approach, they have established a greater rapport with their clients, enabling them to bring added value by way of education and ultimately helping businesses establish their ‘next route’ throughout their journey.

How they got into the industry: It has always been their goal to align their careers in architecture and accountancy and start their own business together. As sisters, they have an infinite level of trust and share the same values, which is embedded in their business and culture. With their skill sets and passion combined, they knew they had a mission to disrupt the industry (in a good way), not only from an age and gender aspect, but also in how business is conducted.

In September 2018, Guy secured a £75m funding line from leading challenger Shawbrook Bank and Insight Asset Management, with Glenhawk becoming one of the youngest challenger lenders to attract this type of investment. This accomplishment provided the sector with significant visibility within the broader real estate sector, as well as more credibility. Since its inception, Glenhawk has set a new standard for the industry with its commitment to ethical lending and putting the customer’s needs first. In September 2018, Glenhawk was one of the first bridging lenders within its peer group to offer to pay for clients’ legal and surveyor fees, focused on reducing the cost of, and simplifying, the borrowing process. In addition to this, Glenhawk continued its commitment not to burden its clients with any excessive costs by charging no administration or exit fees. During the past year, Guy has been working hard on implementing new technologies to refine a market-leading case management, CRM and business introducer platform, which is already supporting the existing loan book and new business generation. It plans to develop this into a third-party offering in the future.

How they got into the industry: As a young entrepreneur and developer of over £100m of prime central London property, Guy experienced firsthand the hidden costs, fees and lack of transparency in the lending market. He believed the bridging market was ripe for disruption and that he could provide a better and fairer customer service that would set him apart. With the support of property veteran Harry Hill, founder of Rightmove and former chairman and CEO at Countrywide, Guy formed Glenhawk to provide a new angle on property finance.


Cover story

Cristina Villen Business development manager of the Spanish team at Fiduciam Age: 24 Notable achievements: Cristina’s two major achievements while working for Fiduciam are helping to develop the bridging loan market in Spain and building a dedicated Spanish team of seven in London. Bridging loans are not really well known in Spain, although the market has a very real need for them. It is to Cristina’s credit that she transformed this underlying demand into a new business. She has effectively turned UK bridging expertise into an export product. Cristina’s determination to bring an understanding of bridging to the Spanish market has had a real impact. She achieved €80m of loans in 2019—double what was forecast in June. Cristina has a reputation of being able to resolve a case when others cannot, with brokers reporting that she achieves the quickest turnaround they have ever known.

How they got into the industry: Cristina is Spanish—born and raised in Madrid. She has a double degree in law and economics from IE University. Cristina came to London as a graduate to complete a six-month exchange programme at City University. During those six months, she worked for Fiduciam as an intern case manager. She went back to Spain to finish her studies and, when Fiduciam decided to enter the Spanish market, Cristina was the first person to receive a call. She took the brave decision to leave her friends and family behind to move to a foreign country to develop Fiduciam’s Spanish lending business from London.


Matthew Vincent

Mike Walters Head of sales—mortgages and bridging at United Trust Bank Age: 31 Notable achievements: Mike made a big impact in his first year, leading the bank’s sales team in bridging originations. Recognising Mike’s drive, ambition and potential, he was appointed head of sales— mortgages and bridging a year later and has led the national BDM team to a successful year in both product sets and has been instrumental in significantly expanding UTB’s broker network—increasing contacts by circa 35%. He has also been involved in the development of the bank’s property finance products and services, most recently the successful implementation of the Nivo Solutions facial recognition ID verification app and further fintech enhancements planned for roll-out during 2020. Given Mikes performance, and the growth ambitions of UTB, from January 2020, he has taken over responsibility for intermediary-facing, property-related sales activity through an expanded property finance BDM team.

How they got into the industry: Mike first joined the industry through Principality Building Society. He started as a junior administrator at its offices in Cardiff, doing basic administrative tasks and learning the business from the ground up. He then moved to Nemo Personal Finance as an underwriter before heading to Optimum Credit, where he took on a BDM role. Five years ago, at the tender age of 26, he won a ‘BDM of the Year’ award within the second charge mortgage industry. Following the positive start to his BDM career at a single-product lender, he joined UTB in 2017 as a BDM selling specialist first and second charge mortgages and bridging finance.

Jordan McBriar

Specialist lending director at Positive Lending

Managing director at Adapt Finance

Age: 30

Age: 28

Notable achievements:

Notable achievements: Jordan has spearheaded Adapt since the beginning, with the support of an excellent team. He has instilled a ‘cando’ attitude into all around him, which has led to Adapt being recognised as one of the leading brokers in the industry today, with a trail of awards each year since he began—from Best Newcomer, to Best Broker and Service Excellence on several occasions. In addition to short-term facilities, Jordan has expanded Adapt into commercial mortgages, which has grown massively since its first completion a couple of years ago. He is also on the executive committee of FIBA, and attends many industry events, roundtables and is often seen commentating in the press. He is a stickler for service to his clients and supporting a ‘better industry’ vision. Together with his peers, he strives for the market to be seen in its best professional light.

How they got into the industry: Jordan left school and entered into estate agency. His father, Mark, started a little home-based, bridging-focused brokerage and, when it needed support, Jordan joined him. That was in 2014. Now, six years later, the company has completed over £500m in loans and has a team of eight.

Guy Murray Head of development finance, West One Loans Age: 29 Notable achievements: Guy joined West One in 2015 and worked in the bridging finance team for three years, where he underwrote over £200m worth of bridging finance facilities. In 2018, he set up the development finance division of West One has run this team ever since. It has subsequently committed to £150m of development finance to date. With a focus on small- and medium-sized developers who are underserved by high street and private banks, Guy has created a service that is thriving in this niche due to the team’s knowledge and experience in processing transactions quickly and efficiently, working with both brokers and developers directly. West One’s development finance team has ambitious objectives for 2020, where it aims to continue to grow its market share, expand its existing team and serve more new and existing customers.

How they got into the industry: Guy moved to the UK from New Zealand around five years ago. His brother was working in the structured finance team of a UK bank, and set up one of the first institutional funding lines for West One, so knew Danny Waters and Stephen Wasserman well. They had offered him a job at West One, but he was unable to take it as he was moving back to New Zealand. However, he mentioned that his brother was looking for a job. Guy met with Danny and Stephen and they ended up offering him a role, and the rest is history.

Matt drives a team of 14, of which 11 are older and eight have more experience in broking. They all respect Matt for his product knowledge, drive and, most importantly, his constant review of Positive’s processes and products to ensure the proposition and service is the very best for its clients and brokers. His expertise and relationships have allowed the company to win business through three regulated lenders where referrals are transferred to Positive for advice. He also drives its new business team, processing an average of 60 new enquiries per day, ensuring that they all receive a fully written quotation within one hour of receipt. Matt also assists lenders and their third-party solicitors to streamline their processes, and challenges the rationale for improved customer journeys. Matt has also assisted in delivering presentations to win some large volume contracts.

How they got into the industry: After gaining a BA Hons in project management, Positive managed to convince Matt to join them in specialist lending at a job trade fair. His words were, “Ok, but I am not very salesy.” Since inception, he has been the biggest writer of business for the company.


Cover story

Joshua Field Lending manager at Ortus Secured Finance Age: 25 Notable achievements: The willingness to take control of his career and never rest on his laurels sets Josh apart from many in his age group. Josh recognises the importance of qualifications—especially for people who are young and cannot point to decades of experience to gain credibility. Therefore, despite working long hours at Ortus, Josh worked evenings and weekends on a real estate economics and finance course at the London School of Economics. He achieved the exceptionally high score of 87.5%. Young people who use their initiative and get qualified deserve recognition because the industry, as a whole, benefits. In addition to his core role, Josh assists the sales team at events and gets heavily involved in IT and systems. He is full of ideas and is happy to undertake the hard work to implement them.

How they got into the industry: Despite being only 25, Josh has experienced a relatively wide range of working environments. He did not pursue further education or university, instead starting his career in regulated mortgages at Nationwide Building Society. He then moved into development finance at Oblix Capital. At Ortus he is further broadening his skill set to include commercial, leisure, offshore structuring and financial accounts analysis.

Farhan Daudi

Sam O’Neill

Associate director of marketing at Nucleus Commercial Finance

Bridging mortgage broker specialist at Clifton Private Finance

Age: 32

Age: 28

Notable achievements:

Notable achievements:

Farhan has been central to growing the Nucleus Commercial Finance brand and marketing output. In 2019, Farhan’s team nearly doubled the amount of deals from direct marketing compared with the previous year, with a 40% increase in the total amount funded through those deals. Farhan has led the business’s transition to automated marketing, while being responsible for nurturing a young team. To support Nucleus’ growth as a technology business, Farhan led the marketing, design and communications activity for its broker portal, myNucleus, where introducers can submit their clients’ finance requests for multiple products. Since its inception, a total of £20m-plus has been funded through the portal.

How they got into the industry: By chance. What started as a trial period at a fintech turned into a near four-year stint in its marketing department, and a total of almost eight years in the start-up fintech sector.

William Lloyd Director of operations at the Brightstar Group Age: 31 Notable achievements: Will began his career at Brightstar as office manager in January 2011 and, over the past nine years, has secured a number of promotions, including three years as PA to Rob Jupp, which earned him a place on the board of directors in January 2017. As director of operations for all three Brightstar Group offices in Billericay, London and Manchester, Will is responsible for corporate governance, finance, human resources, due diligence audits, technology and social media across the group. He has managed 15 office moves across both Brightstar and Sirius brands and was the lead on the internal finance transformation programme in 2017— which supported the business to reach a record profit in 2018 and again in 2019. Seen as the ‘go to’ or ‘fixer’ within the business when something needs to be done, Will was winner of Rising Star—Specialist Distributor at the British Specialist Lending Awards in 2018. He was also instrumental in arranging the Mortgage Sleep Out in 2018, which captured the imagination of the lending industry and raised more than £110,000 for End Youth Homelessness, with events across the UK.

How they got into the industry: Will answered a job advert that he saw on Twitter from Rob Jupp.

48 Bridging & Commercial

At age 27, Sam had launched Clifton’s Cardiff office, and has now recruited two staff who work alongside him. His approach to a local government initiative (the Cardiff Capital Region Scheme) to take on a graduate trainee has been so successful that Sam has been appointed as an ambassador for the scheme and aims to employ another trainee each year. He’s also one of Clifton’s top banking advisers. Its compliance manager says his cases are a pleasure to review: “He is extremely clear and thorough. He ensures the message lands first time, and none of his cases have ever been challenged.” James Caldwell, director at Clifton Private Finance, adds: “Sam’s ambitious and he’s proved himself worthy of the trust we’ve put in him. His style of working is exactly what we want to see modelled in the trainees he mentors.”

How they got into the industry: A taxi conversation got him started. While driving past his old school in Cardiff, the cabbie mentioned that his son from the same school was now doing well in the finance industry. Sam had a degree in psychology and a diploma in psychotherapy, but his career prospects weren’t looking great. The driver phoned his son on speakerphone, and Sam had an interview the following week.


Luke Douse Business development director at YBS Commercial Mortgages Age: 28 Notable achievements: Luke was the youngest lending manager appointed by YBS Commercial Mortgages when he joined the society. He successfully developed a portfolio of customers and, importantly, developed strong relationships with commercial finance brokers across the country. He has put his technical skills to good use, developing parts of YBS’s lending standards, and he has been responsible for driving an increase in the size of the YBS Commercial Mortgages broker panel, enhancing the onboarding experience for new introducers. Luke was appointed as the first business development director in September of 2019 as part of a strategic realignment within the building society. Using his relationship skills, Luke will be facilitating an increase in lending activity at YBS, with the ambition of lending over £300m in 2020.

How they got into the industry: After graduating from Sheffield University with a marketing degree, Luke started work in a contact centre. He wanted to find a role which offered the chance to develop relationships, technical skills and make a difference to customers. YBS offered that opportunity and Luke is now an essential part of the team and at the forefront of implementing an ambitious growth strategy.

Lauren Eaton Head of lending operations at LendInvest Age: 33 Notable achievements: When Lauren first joined LendInvest, the company was just a bridging lender. Over the past five years, she has been heavily involved in the set up and implementation of each of the new products that have put LendInvest on the map as a multi-product, specialist lender. Her biggest achievement is the launch of LendInvest’s specialist BTL product; in less than two years, she has grown her team significantly, from two to 25, managing a loan book of over £500m. During this time, she assisted on the securitisation of LendInvest’s first BTL loan book.

How they got into the industry: Lauren started her career in the fine wine industry. After five years working with wine brokers, she realised she wanted to be in a faster-paced, technology-forward space. LendInvest, (then Montello) was one of the only lenders at the time which was using technology to allow investment in property loans through an online marketplace. She loved the entrepreneurial enthusiasm of the company, and knew it was going to make a difference to the property finance industry. Fiveand-a-half years on, she knows that she made the right choice.


Alice Williams Head of property finance at Pilot Fish Age: 25 Notable achievements:

Richard Nordgreen Head of investments at Proseed Capital Limited Age: 33 Notable achievements: Richard joined Proseed as an analyst and his responsibilities have evolved with the company’s growth to such an extent that he is now a director and shareholder. This growth has seen the company start lending from scratch, making its first loan in 2015, to winning the 2019 B&C Awards Mezzanine Lender of the Year. Richard’s influence has helped shape the focus on providing funding to the most underserved part of the bridging and development market: small-sized developers. These developers need extra funding support to be able to deliver quality housing. This isn’t necessarily the most glamorous part of the market, but Proseed believes in the value of supporting developers who otherwise either couldn’t grow, or would have to rely on unsophisticated funding.

How they got into the industry: Richard left the accountancy world in search of something more tangible and relatable. He was offered an analytical role in a residential-focused company which gave a great breadth of exposure to a wide section of the market. Having initially sought to develop sites itself, it became apparent that funding for smaller developers wasn’t readily available and thus Proseed was born.

Since joining Pilot Fish in 2017, Alice very quickly climbed the ranks and now heads up its property finance team, where she is responsible for lead generation and delivery. She has demonstrated huge ability to achieve, having increased conversion rates and revenue significantly. Alice is frequently asked to speak at industry events and, on a monthly basis, presents for a property mentoring group to rooms of 50-plus property investors. She also runs investment and development workshops and, last year, launched an online educational video series covering all aspects of commercial property finance, which has reached thousands. Alice holds aspirations to encourage more young women into finance roles and hopes to have a longterm positive influence on the industry. Currently studying for a masters in real estate, finance and investment, Alice will soon qualify with MRICS status, as well as CeMAP. With these additional accolades, Alice plans to expand the property finance team’s offering at Pilot Fish and continue to play an active role in the growth of the business during 2020.

How they got into the industry: Alice has always enjoyed finance and after studying economics, she began her career in commercial banking. Frustrated by the lack of solutions she was able to offer her clients, she moved into a broking role, enabling her to offer wholeof-market coverage.


Cover story

Millie Dyson Head of marketing and communications at MT Finance Age: 33 Notable achievements: Millie is one of the industry’s most influential marketeers, using sharp, imaginative and forward-thinking content to promote and develop the MT Finance brand. The recent high-profile rebrand—masterminded by Millie—made the whole industry sit up and take notice. It took MT Finance to the next level, raising its profile nationally. Millie’s influence is not restricted to promoting MT Finance. As a champion of education and collaboration, she is keen to share ideas and elevate other companies, generously sharing the tools and knowledge at her disposal to provide a better customer experience. Her biggest contribution to the industry is Bridging Trends, which Millie launched in 2015. Bridging Trends delivers a transparent representation of the bridging industry, and has become the ‘go-to’ index. Her ability to persuade brokers and packagers to share their data demonstrates how well respected she is.

How they got into the industry: Millie stumbled into her career accidentally. In late 2006, she was working as a waitress in a drag cabaret bar while toying with the idea of taking a medical science placement or becoming a jeweller’s apprentice learning diamond appraisal. Friends persuaded her to join their financial media agency as editor instead, before she set up on her own as a financial PR consultant. Various clients asked Millie to help with their social media and advertising campaigns, which she enjoyed, leading to various marketing positions within the financial sector before joining MT Finance.

Stavros Theophilou Solicitor in the real estate finance and secured lending team at Lawrence Stephens Age: 29 Notable achievements: Stavros has acted for banks and financial institutions in over 1,000 secured lending transactions. He is the solicitor of choice for a P2P bridging lender in Kent, receiving over 50 instructions in a nine-month period. Stavros also liaises directly with credit risk committees, helping them discuss potential new loans and pre-empting any issues. His talent, tenacity and ability to form strong relationships has enabled Lawrence Stephens to become the leading firm on the real estate lending panel for a nationally known challenger bank. The quality of Stavros’ work also saw him seconded by two separate challenger banks for three months, assisting them as they make waves in the financial world. Stavros’ proactivity has helped Lawrence Stephens exceed its departmental goals and forge new relationships as a firm.

How they got into the industry: Stavros studied economics at Queen Mary University of London, before completing the Legal Practice Course (LPC) at BPP. He had always wanted to pursue a career in law and felt there was a great need to have more legal professionals with a commercial and financially aware mindset. Stavros was attracted to property law as his economics background gives him extra depth of insight and was drawn to the massive potential to improve many of the standard industry procedures.

Michael Primrose Managing director at The Property Finance Guy Age: 25 Notable achievements: In 2019, Michael lent over £35m, was a finalist for Broker of the Year at the Property Investors Awards, spoke at the Finance Professional Show (as well as at many other events), hosted a successful networking event in London alongside Progressive Property, ran The Property Finance academy training programme, worked with Progressive Property as a mentor and trainer of its creative finance masterclass and hosted The Property Finance Podcast, which has so far amassed over 10,000 listens in seven countries. Michael has plans to launch his own property network and expand his events across the UK, as well as continuing to work on his podcast and interview more exciting people in the industry. He intends to grow the business with plans on taking on more staff and larger premises in 2020.

How they got into the industry: Michael first got into property at the age of 18 when he entered conveyancing straight out of school. He then worked in estate agency, before going back to conveyancing, and finally broking at the age of 22.

51 Jan/Feb 2020


Ben Lloyd

Sam Herd

Managing director and co-founder of Pure Commercial Finance Age: 34

Development underwriter at Mint Bridging

Notable achievements:

Age: 34

Ben set up Pure in 2013, a multi-discipline property finance brokerage that covers the full spectrum of the UK real estate debt market. Ben won Young Dealmaker of the Year at Insider Wales in 2016, as well as winning at the Entrepreneur Wales Awards in the same year. He is also on the Financial Intermediary & Broker Association (FIBA) executive committee, building on the vital work undertaken by previous committee members and using their unique industry relationships and insights to benefit all areas of bridging finance. Over the past two years, Pure has been significantly investing in company infrastructure. Some of the key areas of investment are in resources, policy and high-quality staff to ensure that the business can be scaled to the next level. Ben is aiming to triple the size of the company by the end of 2021 and aiming for record turnover and profit.

How they got into the industry: After working at Barclays for six years, Ben decided to leave and set up his own commercial finance business as he didn’t like how clients in the industry were treated by their brokers. He wanted to give them better customer service and be able to offer bespoke deals that were suited to their exact needs.

Notable achievements: Sam has underwritten the highest volume and value of development loans, to date, at Mint Bridging. She has looked at Mint’s policies and processes and worked with senior management to improve them. Sam mentors two other junior members of staff on how to underwrite development cases, one of whom is now an underwriter. Sam is constantly looking for ways to keep improving the broker and borrower journey. She is also fully behind the Women in Finance Charter and is involved in strategy to widen the talent pool which is being introduced to Mint for potential positions.

How they got into the industry: Sam originally worked for a lender as a mortgage adviser and, while she enjoyed this, she was particularly drawn to the specialist lending sector. She started her underwriting career in bridging, pushed herself further and began to train as a development underwriter—a role in which she shines.

Jasmit Panesar Operations director at Capital B Property Finance Age: 29 Notable achievements: Jasmit has been in the bridging industry for just over three years and has made an impression by building long-term relationships and ensuring that she gets the ear of the industry giants. She helped set up Capital B and has now moved into business development. She has helped the company secure new contracts as well as invigorating existing introducers. Her skills lie in her ability to ask a direct question and to not take no for an answer. Jasmit has encouraged solicitors, accountants and people from other industries to understand how bridging can work for their clients and has, through her knowledge and enthusiam, connected various firms to increase their own business levels.

How they got into the industry: Jasmit first worked for SPF in an admin role. She then left and went to Masthaven as a junior underwriter. When Capital B started, she joined within a few months of inception to organise the company and start building the admin function.


Cover story

Sabinder Sandhu Marketing manager at Avamore Capital Age: 26

Simon Das

Notable achievements:

Managing director at 978 Bridging

Sabinder has been instrumental in growing Avamore’s brand presence and market segmentation through leveraging industry partnerships and opening up communication channels with unique events, content and reports to build an engaged network. Her analytical and creative approach has pushed boundaries of traditional marketing in the industry and created new standards across a range of disciplines. As a result, her work has assisted Avamore in increasing completions by 120% year-on-year and seeing enquiries increase by 197% in the same period. In January 2019, she also took over the management of Avamore’s sales team, overseeing principals’ and originators’ sales strategies and tactics, collating and analysing results and providing direction to better focus their time and improve effectiveness of market engagement. Additionally, in July 2019, Sabinder began overseeing a review of Avamore’s culture, vision and practices, determining the steps to improve the internal operations feeding into the service Avamore provides to the market. Furthermore, the changes she is implementing to enhance employee experiences are building a dynamic, collaborative and people-focused culture. Her ongoing work will create an attractive proposition for new hires and the growth of Avamore’s culture will soon set the bar for employee expectation across the industry.

How they got into the industry: Sabinder managed Avamore’s account via a marketing agency between 2016 and 2017 before being offered an in-house role in 2018.

Age: 34 Notable achievements:

Lewis Casserley & Jordan Fearnley Brown Co-founders and principals of Edgarley Finance Ltd Age: Both 25

Over the past year, Simon has grown the company from one to four people and is currently writing a training programme with the ambition to bring in four new sales team members within the next 12 months. He has created a diverse panel of lenders with the ability to finance anything from luxury yachts to a derelict house. He has offered terms on over £150m worth of business, including a football stadium, a TV sound studio and even a pirate ship. He has helped and supported numerous clients by stopping repossession proceedings and has managed to assist clients who have unfortunately been made bankrupt begin new business ventures. Simon has also completed well over 1,000 hours of voluntary work, including helping to organise the ‘World’s Biggest Street Party’ on Morecambe Promenade, working for Leeds Children’s Charity and chairing the West End Million Project for three years. He wants to bring this charitable mindset into 978 Bridging by offering a paid voluntary work scheme and partnering with B1G1—Business for Good in order to give back to his employees’ chosen causes as the business profits.

How they got into the industry:

Notable achievements: This young and ambitious pair of newcomers to the market founded Edgarley Finance at the age of 22 with just £100,000 available to lend with the help of a single private investor. Throughout the past 12 months, they have provided the bridging and development market with over £3m of loan capital, with flexible and competitive terms available to customers. They recently secured a substantial funding facility from a reputable UK bank, and are in the process of onboarding one of the UK’s most successful and reputable businessmen as chairman, to provide further private funding and credibility throughout the sector.

He started in property over a decade ago when he inherited his mum’s house after she passed away. He made the most of this situation by building a small BTL portfolio and then started helping investors through his property management and lettings business, which was founded in 2013.

How they got into the industry: The pair previously ran an FCA-regulated stock brokerage, where a number of its clients were in property and required finance for their projects. Jordan and Lewis began raising funds within their client base to facilitate these projects, before realising the scope for a new debt business, formed with the help of a number of very senior credit consultants whom assist with the due diligence of its cases.

53 Jan/Feb 2020


Lizzie Lane Head of short-term lending at Masthaven Bank Age: 33 Notable achievements: Since joining Masthaven, Lizzie has achieved seven promotions, working her way up from assistant underwriter to head of its short-term lending department. Along the way, Lizzie has played a key role in helping the specialist lender’s bridging and development finance offering mature at a time of real change in the sector. From implementing new processes to mentoring her underwriters, Lizzie has helped evolve Masthaven’s short-term proposition— and consequently that of the wider market.

How they got into the industry: After her A-levels, Lizzie took a junior role in a small brokerage firm in Bromley and steadily worked her way up to becoming an underwriter. After seven years at the company, she wanted to try something different, so decided to pursue a role with Masthaven Bank.

Christiana Solomou Financial controller at London Credit Age: 31 Notable achievements: In her 30s, she gained the management’s trust and became the financial controller heading up the London Credit finance team, involved in the decision making of its bridging business. Since joining London Credit, Christiana has been a part of its fundraising and was able to participate in the growth of the organisation from the beginning by the formulation of effective systems, including robust budgetary controls and forecasting analysis. These mitigate business risks and, at the same time, grow the shareholders’ returns, while managing the cash flows and liquidity of the business. This modus operandi lead to the company’s sustainability and success, while maintaining high returns of investment, despite the volatility of the British economy and the fierce competition of the market. It also served as a springboard for the other projects of the organisation that were met with an even higher success rate, as Christiana is also responsible for the financial management of the group’s real estate portfolio operating in London—properties with a current value exceeding £100m.

How they got into the industry: Christiana’s entrance into the industry was the result of her organisation’s hunt for promising new blood. She debuted in the sector five years ago as an assistant manager.

Steffan Goold Director at Beaufort Capital and vice-president at the Association of Property Lenders (APL) Age: 29 Notable achievements: At the age of 26, Steffan was the youngest person to be appointed to the board of the APL and has been vice-president for the last year. In the past 12 months, Steffan has voluntarily organised a number of legal seminars, educational events, a golf day and the annual fundraising dinner for 1,000 guests, which raised almost £100,000 for four different charities.

How they got into the industry: From a young age, Steffan was a regular visitor to a building site with his father, who ran a construction company. This is where his interest in property and development began. Following a degree in mathematics and physics, Steffan joined the real estate finance team at Bank of London and the Middle East.


Cover story

William Edwards

Jimmy Baillie

Senior lending specialist at Market Harborough Building Society (MHBS)

Managing director and founder of Silver Oak Capital

Age: 27

Age: 32

Notable achievements:

Notable achievements:

Kim McGinley Director at VIBE Finance Age: 34 Notable achievements: Kim started VIBE Finance with the aim to utilise her experience in working as a lending manager in the commercial finance sector to benefit her own clients. Within 18 months, she has grown the brokerage from her home to VIBE’s own purpose-built office. Kim has expanded the team by taking on two case managers and, at the beginning of 2020, an appointed representative. Kim won the Rising Star of the Year Award 2019 at the NACFB Gala Dinner and VIBE was a finalist for Best New Entrant Broker. She was also a finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 at the News Business Excellence Awards. Kim advocates and promotes a positive work-life balance at VIBE and one of her goals is to encourage more women into the financial services sector. Kim continues to educate clients on all things specialist finance, regularly speaking at events, and has built some amazing relationships with lenders.

How they got into the industry: Kim dropped out of college, where she was studying drama, and started working for a bank in the customer services team, before going on to work for a broker and then lenders. She has worked her way up in each role and always been ambitious. Prior to starting VIBE, Kim worked for 12 years in the specialist lending sector and has never looked back.

Jimmy set up Silver Oak Capital in 2018 and has overcome the initial uncertainty and barrier to entry which comes with starting your own firm and growing a new client base—especially in uncertain times.

How they got into the industry: By accident. He studied mathematics and economics at the University of Cape Town and wanted to pursue a career in financial services, although he was not sure exactly where. He arrived in London in 2013 without a job, no place to live and no connections and had to take his first job unpaid. It was at a Mayfair-based family office and the foot in the door he was looking for. He arranged his first loan there and one thing led to another. He went on to work for three of the top debt brokers in London, arranging loans of all types across Europe. The lessons learnt at all of these companies gave him the confidence he needed to start up Silver Oak Capital in 2018, focusing on the £2m–20m loan space.

Scott Lord Senior underwriter at Market Financial Solutions Age: 30 Notable achievements: Scott has been integral, not only to MFS’ success, but also that of the overall market in recent years. Through drive and determination, he has expanded his team and continues to support new starters, developing and cementing their future in the industry. Since Scott arrived, the company’s loan book has increased more than ten-fold, and through superb risk management skills, Scott has ensured MFS has maintained its lowest default rate in the company’s 13-year history. He has also been involved in the training of underwriters stationed at MFS’ subsidiary office in Singapore, offering advice and expertise on the specialist lending market internationally.

How they got into the industry: Scott has always been interested in property and started off working for a lettings agent in London. From there, he joined a finance broker predominately focusing on long-term second charges. Over four-and-a-half years, Scott was able to start up a B2B division handling bridging enquiries, where he realised he needed to understand the market from a lender’s perspective. The opportunity then arose to work for MFS, where Scott continues to flourish, and is an indispensable part of the team.

William provides expert support for intermediaries and direct customers needing bridging finance and other complex mortgage assistance. In 2019, he led the society’s bridging proposition and successfully raised awareness of bridging finance, bringing its features to life for those who could benefit or who may not be familiar with the service. He has written informative articles, hosted in-branch customer information days and most recently wrote and starred in an educational video. William has a strong reputation among his colleagues for being knowledgeable, thorough and a great role model. Customer feedback shows that they too value his approach and expertise. Mark Robinson, CEO at Market Harborough Building Society, said: “The society has big plans to expand its successful bridging proposition in 2020, its 150th year, and William personifies the combination of deep technical knowledge and customer insight that bridging solutions need.”

How they got into the industry: William’s first role in financial services was as a mortgage trainee with MHBS. Within two years of joining, he had achieved both CeMAP and CeRER qualifications and built experience in the key areas of underwriting, commercial mortgages, processing cases and servicing existing mortgages. With a passion for great service and a desire to raise the profile of the society’s mortgage service, William joined the sales team in 2018 to set up a team specialising in bridging finance.

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Vic Interview

Words by

caron schreuder Photography

alexANDER chai


Adam Interview

in conversation


H

ardly a market in desperate need of guidance and support, trade organisations in bridging finance have had to continually reassess their approach to adding value in such a flourishing space. Two such associations—the Financial Intermediary & Broker Association (FIBA) and the Association of Short Term Lenders (ASTL)—are becoming increasingly collaborative to ensure that they are truly meeting the needs of their members. Adam Tyler, a broker himself and former CEO at the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers (NACFB), took the lead at FIBA—a reinvention of the Association of Bridging Professionals—in 2018. He has since managed to run several innovative and popular series of events, develop an approved solicitor panel, grow the lender membership and launch benefits that represent real significance for brokers’ businesses. At the recent ASTL Annual Conference, Benson Hersch handed over the role of CEO to Vic Jannels, who also operates brokerage Impact Specialist Finance with his sons, Dale and Neal. At the time of writing, Vic had not yet formally started his new duties, but he shared with us a keen desire to get under the skin of what his lender constituents really want, prior to making any drastic changes to the association’s position, aims and strategy. Both Adam and Vic have an undeniable amount of experience in the specialist finance market and an eagerness to adapt to modern requirements, while keeping one eye on lessons learned. Here, we discuss the all-important “regulation creep”, the suitability of bridging finance and effectively managing complaints.


Interview

Adam Tyler: One of the main things [that’s changed] is the number of lenders. Before 2007—and I’m talking specialist commercial finance now—we had 84 lenders to business. By the end of 2009, we had 42—it halved. And today, we probably have in excess of 400. I don’t like the word alternative, never have, but if you class them as specialist lenders in that space, then we’re looking at 400. I think that is the dramatic change and where we see a real difference: the choice that the customer now has is much wider than it’s ever been. Vic Jannels: If you’re talking specialist, though, you’ve got to differentiate between [those] who sit in the regulated and nonregulated housing space, [and] those who are specifically in bridging. I think the changes have come about simply because of the proliferation in numbers and also that in itself has driven competition [and that] has driven down rates. I remember when I was first dealing in bridging, you were looking at rates of 18% per year, 2-3% to get in, 2-3% to get out. And it was only those who could do nothing else who would enter into bridging deals at that time. Now, it’s much better for the consumer; interest rates are low, it’s accessible, there’s lots of money available— but that doesn’t mean to say it all works well. AT: The cost of funds is the primary thing that’s come down because we began this whole market [with], when ASTL started, probably sub-half a billion, and it was HNW individuals putting money in. Now, most of the good lenders have funding lines from various sources: high street banks, challenger banks... We’ve seen the growth of bridging lenders with banking licences, so they’re [also] deposit taking. So, there has been a whole change. But you have, at the other end of the spectrum, those who still get their money from the HNW individuals. VJ: The potential, in 10 years’ time, is that the sector will be regulated. The regulator is looking very carefully at whether it is something they ought to get their teeth into. I am not convinced one way or another whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, because regulation drives intrusion … there is a danger that it will just continue to slow down [bridging]... The whole idea of bridging is that it should be a quick fix for a particular transaction. We’re finding more and more now that it’s taking so much longer and, quite often, the original reason for the bridge has resolved itself—in which case, an awful lot of work can be conducted for no income. AT: Regulation is a big piece of what this industry faces, I think, in the near future. I think it’s closer than people realise.

Caron Schreuder: Can I push you on that point: why do you think it is in the near future? AT: It depends on the level of regulation we’re talking about. If we’re talking about full product regulation, as in the first charge market, I think that’s much further away. Regulation by stealth, or regulation creep, is happening. Next week (planned for 9th December 2019), the Senior Managers [& Certification] Regime (SMCR) makes a lot of difference to the way that brokers must behave. The SMCR is another step into regulation. For somebody who lived through regulation with commercial finance brokers in 2013/14 and the concern, frustration and upsets we went through then... [It’s] not something you’d want to go through again. Simon Thompson: What were those concerns about, exactly? AT: [They were saying], ‘Adam, why is this for us? You should be campaigning.You go to 10 Downing Street and have a word with somebody and stop this happening.’ (laughter) ‘Why should we be regulated? We know what we’re doing, we’ve been doing it for years and it all works.’ That has never been a counter argument to stop regulation... VJ: The good thing and the bad thing about regulation is that it was initially brought in to stop bad practice. Bad practice didn’t go away in a hurry and you could argue that [it’s] still out there. One of the reasons sitting behind the SMCR is that you can now track where everybody is, which didn’t happen [as part of] regulation. For instance, a firm could have 50 brokers [and] 35 could have left over time— some good people, some possibly not—but you couldn’t track where they’d gone, unless they appeared at a later stage, [and] that didn’t mean to say that you knew they worked at company A before they arrived at company C. This regime is going to ensure that you track those people. CS: Does this only apply to regulated firms? Both: Yes. AT: But even consumer credit regulated firms are covered by the SMCR. CS: But the large majority of bridging doesn’t fall into that category. VJ: Our experience is that more and more of bridging is falling into a form of regulation. AT: Let’s clarify this: this is the brokers that are regulated. We have very few unregulated brokers that we deal with. I mean, brokers

who aren’t regulated for consumer credit purposes. CS: As members of FIBA? AT: Yes. There are just two who don’t have credit broking permissions and they only deal with large limited companies for development finance, but they really will need to become regulated. There is an argument to say, ‘If I am only dealing with big limited companies, then I don’t need to have it because I am not dealing with consumer credit transactions, but with the creep of regulation, the changes to the Financial Ombudsman’s remit, where they now can look at complaints about limited companies with a turnover of [a] certain size ... it’s really hard to say that [you] don’t deal in any regulated environment. CS: The commentary from Lynda Blackwell at the recent ASTL conference seemed identical to that which she gave five or six years ago. Nothing has changed, in my opinion. It appears to be the same information. We need to possibly put some more detail into this ‘regulation creep’; what exactly are the drivers that are going to make the FCA really look at this sector? The conversion rates came up which was an interesting point—keeping those low as an industry—but we are talking about the bad eggs and those are not the brokers with permissions. AT: Let me give you an example of a similar [market], because whatever happens to industries, it just gets replicated. As an IFA in the mid-90s, they said to me one day, ‘[As of] tomorrow, you’ve got to disclose your commission to the customers.’ There was no argument. Disclosure came in in 1996 and [which meant that from then on] when you sat with a customer and you’re doing a pension or investment [you had] to tell them that you will be earning X amount of money out of that arrangement, in goods and services. We were really concerned at the time that the customer was going to find out how much we were earning. Did it make a jot of difference the next day? None whatsoever. VJ: The stupidity of that was … we had one instance in particular where, two or three weeks after the mortgage transaction, a client came into our office at reception and brought a cheque in, for a set amount, which was the amount Adam is describing, [featured] at the bottom of the key facts illustration … We said to him, ‘It’s really nice of you to do this but it’s included in what you’re actually paying.’ The ability to understand the changes that regulation brought in at that time was negligible because it wasn’t the customers

61 Jan/Feb 2020


who were being trained, it was the brokers. Adam’s 100% correct; it didn’t make a jot of difference because people expect you to earn a living. They all knew we earned money out of the deal, so why not be transparent about it and have it on the table? AT: Then, of course, M-day came along and we had first charge mortgage regulation. Also, in 2008, there was a very little-known piece of case law where the broker was picking up a fee from the customer and the lender but didn’t declare to the customer that he was getting fees from both sides. At the time, we sat down with [various banks] and decided that we need to disclose fees; this was 2008 and we need to let the customer know. Eleven years later, we still disclose fees, but it’s not fully transparent. You asked for specifics on why regulation might happen... In 2018, the FCA reported after a consultation enquiry into motor vehicle finance, which commented on, amongst other matters, broker fees and disclosure, i.e. what brokers were charging. They found that the customers were not fully understanding the costs involved. They will be reading that across to other parts of commercial finance. They know [and] they understand that the industry that we’re in, [doesn’t] disclose in the way that is done in the first charge market. The fees that are being paid at the moment are, in the end, paid for by the customer, not the lender, to the broker … it all comes out of the overall package. That is where we may face some real changes in the future, on fees and disclosure. Hence the work we’ve (FIBA) been doing recently on fee transparency and so forth. Perhaps we need to provide more education to the outside agencies as not everyone really understands the intricacies of our industry and what we have to deal with on a day-today basis. CS: In an earlier ‘In Conversation’ piece with two brokers, the lack of necessity for brokers to disclose earnings within the unregulated environment was a core topic, one which I found alarming. AT: AT: The good brokers will behave [correctly] across the piece, whether it’s regulated or not. Regulation will help. It will be there to help the customer, make no bones about it, because you will know exactly what’s being paid when what fees you’re paying if you go outside of the terms of the loan. I know of lenders in other parts of the market who are reducing the commission they’re paying because they’ve got one eye on what’s happening in the future. It’s something that we, as an industry, [should] try to make more transparent before the regulator comes along and starts to talk about it. Bridging & Commercial


Interview

VJ: There is an argument that, in the shortterm market, the incident rate of regulated bridging is growing, caused by high levels of people trading down as the population gets older. People are living in huge houses; they now don’t want to live in those houses so they’re trading down into [smaller residences]. That’s a regulated mortgage transaction and you can’t hide away from that; it needs to be dealt with on a regulated basis. The regulator is going to become more involved in making sure that the older population is being properly looked after, in the same way they’re very concerned about later-life lending/equity release to make sure people are doing the job properly for them. CS: So, bridging is being used more on downsizing transactions? VJ: Oh, yeah. A house will go on the market and it might have six or seven people looking to buy it. A client who is looking to downsize can’t sell but wants to buy this property to be nearer to their family, for instance. The way to do it, because this property is most likely to be unencumbered, is to take a bridging loan across the two while waiting for the current one to sell. That’s a regulated transaction. Any broker selling in that market needs to be regulated and do the job properly. AT: It’s a growing reason why you’re seeing more regulated firms involved in the bridging market: IFAs and residential mortgage brokers— CS: And networks. AT: If you look at the FCA-reported figures on regulated bridging transactions, it’s minimal. Way off the mark of the real world we live in. Where they’re getting their data from is something that perhaps Vic and I need to have a chat about and go to the FCA and say, ‘We think you’re missing this, the reg piece is much larger...’ CS: But how are they missing this? Isn’t it mandatory for all regulated bridging lenders to supply their figures to the regulator? VJ: Yes, but in relation to global mortgage lending, it is still a relatively small figure. CS: However small, do you believe that the figures they have are not quite accurate? AT: I think the number it has is less than 1,000 transactions in a year. Honestly. VJ: Wow. AT: I’m only hearing this second hand, I

haven’t got this officially from Canary Wharf, but that’s the number which we need to do some work on... VJ: It also demonstrates the viability of this piece of the market because it’s going to grow, I think, exponentially over the next two or three years. Maybe two years ago, we were all beginning to wonder whether the bridging market had a future at its current level, [and] actually it’s gone the other way. The worry for a lot of people in the market—networks in particular, with their reams of ARs—is whether or not they should give permissions for those ARs to write mortgages in this market. It is specialised. You might argue [that] it’s a mortgage.You’ve got the lawyer, the agent, the broker... Why should it be any different? The rules and the understanding and the requirements of the lenders are totally different.You have a number of legal firms who specialise in this area and you have a larger number of legal firms who don’t—and that’s where the problems come about. The wider the process piece becomes, the less likely the case is to complete. We need to make sure that advisers who are operating in this sector understand it from start to finish. VJ: Some smaller building societies are also starting to open the door to bridging. My first concern about that was that they were maybe looking at the fees they could charge … yet they understand that you have this situation where somebody needs money for a short period of time, they want to lend that money and earn a fee at the front of it and quite often they’ll do without any ERCs, so it becomes appealing to the customer, or the broker selling to the customer. We are aware of one building society whose bridging rate is sitting just below 4.2% pa which is a phenomenally cheap rate for short-term lending. AT: There are now some very innovative products in the bridging market anyway … but, do you see that, for your firm, as an opportunity to bridge a customer and then move them on to a full long-term mortgage? Is that what the building societies are doing?

“You have a number of legal firms who specialise in this area and you have a larger number of legal firms who don’t—and that’s where the problems come about. The wider the process piece becomes, the less likely the case is to complete. We need to make sure that advisers who are operating in this sector understand it from start to finish”

VJ: I think [they] are looking at that, particularly where you’ve got a self-build or a traditional development. CS: We have established that the regulated side of bridging is growing but, at the same time, so is the unregulated portion. Making it more attractive, bringing down rates, opening it up to new clients—in a regulated space, that’s fine because it is protected, but that is happening in the unregulated arena, too. Do you have any concerns about people 63 Jan/Feb 2020


Interview

being put into bridging loans [unsuitably] because it is so much more accessible?

body and an association, and where do FIBA and ASTL sit on that spectrum, respectively?

AT: I don’t think so, because you have a lot of developers in there, sophisticated borrowers buying somewhere to do up and sell on. They understand the maths and the profit behind it. What they may not understand is the product that they’re getting involved with— the full suite of fees that could be involved. That’s a whole area we need to talk about. Why is this market different? We’re bucking all the trends of where we should be. The uncertainty that we’ve got in this world at the moment... you would’ve thought everything would’ve just hunkered down but... We’re so busy. VJ: The mortgage market, in fairness, has always tended to buck the trend in that regard. The thing about the UK market is that the Englishman’s home is his castle. I don’t think we’re going to move away from that in a hurry, despite trends in recent times trying to push us more towards becoming a [rental] society. People still want to own their bricks and mortar. [Coming back to your question], I think that most brokers in the UK are genuinely good at what they do.

AT: A trade association is a group of people who are sharing common interests and a common goal—a group who want to do things that are better for the industry. A trade body tends to be something which does more on the lobbying side, has more political aspirations... For somebody who has a 10-year political background behind them, I am a combination of both. I am running a trade association which is a collection of brokers who all have common interests and goals. We have lenders, lawyers and valuers all part and parcel of FIBA, making us an industry collective. At the same time, because of the political connections I have built up, I lobby on behalf of the industry and always have done. I have carried that mantle not only for bridging, but for access to finance in general. I run a trade association, but act as if I’m running a trade body, too. I don’t have too much to add to that, other than, bearing in mind that I am not yet in the hot seat, I have a view which says that my organisation perhaps should look a little bit wider for its membership, [encompassing] more in the mortgage sector.

AT: Yeah.

CS: Is there a name change coming?

VJ: They attempt to do it right. There are a smaller number who perhaps look at what they can earn out of it rather than what’s good for the client. I do think they’re in the minority, but it is the minority that spoils it for everybody else. [Those who] see a bridging loan as a very quick fix to earn cash, knowing that they can take that deal out with a BTL or other mortgage product rather than doing the latter first and cutting out the need for the bridge altogether.

VJ: No, not yet, I don’t think. (laughter) At the moment, I really want to dig into what drives the ASTL—what it is thinking in the short to medium term—and then we’ll see what happens at a later stage. There is always a great danger that someone gets into [the] hot seat and changes everything on day one. That isn’t going to happen.

AT: I agree with you on that. VJ: I think there’s a big danger that those cases may become high profile and, if they do, it will naturally cast a shadow across the rest of our marketplace—and that concerns me. AT: I’m going to come in from the brokers’ perspective and say that I think that the lenders have a role to play in this as well, in looking at a deal and making sure that the exit from that deal is the right one, and could it be something that they don’t need to lend on, as Vic’s already demonstrated? Either by the length of time the transaction’s going to take, or is there a better product available? [For example], is it a BTL transaction from day one? CS: What is the difference between a trade

AT: No. One of the strongest points we had, when we were working together, particularly around the regulation piece, was when we all went [in] together. We had a united front. We campaigned vigorously at the time to combat BTL regulation; we didn’t think it was right, or it was, but only for unsophisticated borrowers, ie people who had a portfolio of three or less. We used to sit together and do that—something which I think is the future. We might have different approaches or ideas, but, as we’re representing the industry, we definitely need to be doing [it] together. VJ: We [could] fracture if we don’t. I am quite happy to say that I want that to continue to grow because, together, we’re stronger. I went on record at the ASTL Conference saying that I believe in regulation, I support it and I have sympathy for it, but I often have to question the depth and the intrusion that it might [bring] and I am not always convinced that that is for the benefit of everybody. For me, it’s only ever the end user who pays 64

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all [of] our salaries. How can we make it easier for them and the journey a simpler one? It has become undoubtedly far more complicated in the last eight to 10 years than it ever has been. CS: Would it make sense as trade associations in the industry to draft what you consider to be an effective level of regulation so that you can start to get the ball rolling with your members to adhere to a set of self-policing policies? AT: One of the successes we’ve had in the past was effectively referring to each other’s and our own codes. We have a code of ethics and professional standards, but then we refer to the ASTL’s code and vice versa. That referencing then means that we’re supporting each other without necessarily saying we’re ‘coming together’. We have our own positions but recognise each other’s place in the market. CS: Do they go far enough, the codes? AT: No. I think our code certainly needs reviewing. Not being fully familiar with the ASTL code, and Vic hasn’t had the chance to study it in detail, it would be unfair to comment on it. But certainly, in light of GDPR changes and SMCR, all those things have to be updated. It’s probably worth undertaking that in 2020, alongside a complaints procedure. VJ: I totally agree. [When it comes to complaints] you have to ascertain where and when you actually become involved. There is one issue doing the rounds now where a couple of lenders who are not members of either association are flagging a complaint against another lender where they consider them to have conducted bad practice. If you look at the deal in question, [to remain unnamed here], it is particularly bad practice, in my view. One of the things the regulator has always said is, if the lender has been specifically clear about the deal it is offering the customer and the customer can quite clearly identify that they understand every aspect of it, then they don’t see any conflict, regardless of the rate and terms. That said, if the rate and terms are not clearly identified and neither the broker nor lawyer has dug deeply enough into them to advise the customer, then there’s a problem. That needs to be brought to the table. CS: How does one ascertain that the advice has been absorbed, especially if there is no broker involved? AT: I have been dealing with complaints against brokers since 2005. Whenever we’ve


had a complaint against the lender, we pushed it to the lender organisation because every lender generally had [one]. We used to call for the file from the broker, and for the information for the customer, and we used to arbitrate. I have no problem at all in looking at [those files] and making a judgement, saying, ‘We think, as a broker, you’ve overstepped the mark and, therefore, you need to refund your fee … or whatever it is.’ Trying to find a solution, we did that with a committee behind me who reviewed the decision I made and they then had recourse to take it further to an independent group that could then review [the case]. Generally, when you get into those practices and start going down that route, the customer and broker settle. ST: Is this something you’re still going to do, with FIBA? AT: Yeah, there is the ability to do that, but it isn’t publicised as much as it was. People have tended to shy away from that in recent times and I don’t know why. It’s something that I would like to see revived. VJ: I was involved some years ago with Equis—a group of packagers and distributors—and we liaised with the regulator and AMI (Association of Mortgage Intermediaries) to deliver that code of conduct. The whole idea was that each of the distributors would sign up to that code and then run their business along those lines. What we didn’t do, and I think this is a natural next step, [was] create an arbitration point, so they were still on their own if they had an issue with a client or broker in that regard. That did particularly well for a number of years. The cooperation we’re talking about here is nothing but a good thing in order to make sure that everybody is on the same page … before things fester. CS: You both want to grow your respective memberships—is that aim at odds with bringing in a stricter code of conduct and complaints procedure? AT: You have to be brave enough to say, ‘Ok, we want to make sure that people who join us are doing things the right way and, if not, we don’t want them to join us.’ Only then will we get the regulation we potentially want in the future. CS: Is there possibly a benefit to getting them in and then, when they’re in the fold, get them to comply? AT: There is always that argument and one which I used many years ago in my defence when I was bringing lots of people into trade

“You have to be brave enough to say, ‘Ok, we want to make sure that people who join us are doing things the right way and, if not, we don’t want them”


Interview

associations who were wanting to learn about the industry. How do you [introduce] fresh blood unless you let new people in? You could easily say, ‘I don’t want an experienced adviser being involved in bridging because all they do is look at their own products and will not understand where to place the customer’, but IFAs are dealing with company directors every single day of the week and could be identifying opportunities outside of their main business. So, why not? Let’s get them in and help them and ultimately help the customer.. What we’re saying is, if there are people who aren’t doing things correctly… lets help them and use the experience that we have in the industry to get it right at the outset. CS: A very small proportion of the 400 lenders are part of your organisations, so do we get them in and try to get them to adhere to the code or set the code and the benchmark and risk only having 50 lenders being a part of FIBA/ASTL? VJ: I think we have to accept that becoming a member is a voluntary move. They don’t have to do it and they don’t have to be a part of the code of conduct. The code that they’re part of is either PRA or FCA, [if they’re regulated]. It’s not just that we want you to become a member and we’ll grab you by the code, we want you to tell us what being a member will mean for you. What do you need from us to assist you on a day-to-day basis? And then we can actually work with a consensus of opinion from where we both sit. It’s all very well saying we’ve got 200 members. Name them—who are they, what do they do? What’s their reason for being? What are we doing to help them in their business, other than giving them a code of conduct? It’s a value-add for both [parties].Yes, we get additional membership which helps with the cost of running the organisation, but they get more out of it than just being a member of FIBA or ASTL. CS: You’ve both been brokers and voiced that you think the majority of them are doing the right thing—and we agree—but our last issue of the magazine was all about turning the lens on brokers and it has come to the fore that the advice segment [may be] lacking in bridging transactions. AT: We go through cycles when the lenders control the market, or the brokers do. At the moment, the brokers are in control. It will swing back, [naturally]. It always does. At the moment, there is so much money available, so much choice for brokers, that they can pick and choose where the right place is for the customer, leading to issues of: ‘Should that have gone there, instead of

there?’ I cannot emphasise enough how the SMCR is going to change things. There are groups of brokers who may not be complying with industry practices and are not part of a trade association. So, you could throw this back to the lending community and say, ‘Why are you dealing with these brokers? Why are you giving them the option, why are you feeding them?’ If they can’t place business, they’ve got to do something different and get the correct permissions and comply with an industry code. Vic’s predecessor’s [Benson Hersch] ultimate goal was that all lenders at ASTL would only deal with brokers who were part of an organisation, and those brokers would only deal with ASTL members. That’s the utopia that we want to try to achieve. In this market, it’s impossible. But it’s certainly an aspiration we should be aiming for … in that way, the regulator will look and see that [our market] is doing things right. VJ: I agree with that. We talk about rogue brokers and they [do exist], and however few there are, their stories make big news when they happen. We should never overlook the fact that most of the people in all aspects of our market do a job which is diligent. Thankfully, we get very few complaints, but when we do, we find that maybe the broker who sold the deal has not actually done as Adam’s suggested and hasn’t researched what’s available. They’ve gone for rate, or they’ve gone for speed, or proc fee. When the regulator looks very closely at this in the future, they’re going to be identifying which of these they’ve done. I would argue that a broker might be looking at two hits: they get their fee from the bridge and they get their fee from the mortgage. There, for me, is a question: how do you identify [which part of the transaction] had to be done urgently? AT: And, in our industry, obviously, there is an absence of key features documents and suitability letters—we don’t have to provide those. Not every deal is a vanilla deal, getting 0.45% per month. Some are very difficult to place and, therefore, the customer may have to pay a higher rate—it warrants it. It shouldn’t all be about low interest rates, [but] finding the right deal for the customer. VJ: Lenders are sometimes their own worst enemy in that some of them who you used to be able to get a short-term deal through in three weeks are now taking [up to] eight weeks. MT Finance just recently announced [in its November Bridging Trends report, that] an average bridging loan [completion time stood at] 51 days. Brokers can be spending a lot of time, effort and money putting a deal on the table that never completes. I was staggered by the 20% 66

Bridging & Commercial

conversion rate figure [reported by Lynda at the ASTL Conference]. In my own firm, it’s just over 30%. Are we bucking the trend or is that what it should be? It should be, in my opinion, a much larger conversion ratio. If lenders were swifter, if lawyers were more attuned to short-term lending… then the brokers probably would be more suitable for them because you’re actually doing the deal to fit the client’s timescales rather than dragging and losing money because the deal goes elsewhere. AT: Some of the most successful events that we’ve run are the joint ASTL and FIBA events. Born out of [these] events was the FIBA Professional Partners [a list of preferred legal firms published on the association’s website]. The cry went out from everybody saying, ‘Can we just deal with solicitors who understand the industry?’ So I spent probably more time than I should’ve meeting and interviewing solicitors to put them on the panel, getting them recognised by our brokers and their customers. The more work that we do to bring in the right solicitors … the better. That’s a legacy [of FIBA]. CS: Finally, call-out culture—thoughts? Until such time as the complaints procedures are up and running, what is the best way to handle grievances? AT: I don’t think anyone should be out there naming people. VJ: Agreed. AT: The sooner we can give the lender and the broker community somewhere to go to, the better. VJ: The number of spurious letters that come into [brokers] from legal complaints teams asking to see a file... There’s nothing wrong, they’re not making a complaint, what they want is the file so they can pore through it and say, ‘Ah, they missed a point there’ and then make a complaint. I think that is criminal. [I’ve spoken to brokers who] are getting maybe one or two of these per week. In order to respond to [these letters], you’re looking at two or three hours of nonproductive, potentially damaging work. That’s an area I think you ought to look at. AT: Finally, to lighten the mood, I think the last time Vic and I sat side by side like this, one of us was blindfolded. (laughter) CS: I’m going to need more details…



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Interview


Interview

MAKING A MAJOR LENDER Words by

BETH FISHER

On 4th October last year, Charter Court Financial Services Group and OneSavings Bank merged, with ambitions to create a leading specialist mortgage lender in the UK. Two months after they combined, I quizzed its new group managing director Alan Cleary about what’s first on the agenda, and what brokers can expect from the mammoth lending outfit during and after the integration process

T

he group—which offers residential, buy-to-let and commercial mortgages, in addition to bridging and second charge loans—has made it clear that its top priority is to operate the individual brands separately. This means that Precise Mortgages, Kent Reliance for Intermediaries and InterBay Commercial will all keep their individual brands. It recently announced that it is proposing to close the Prestige brand to new business. In terms of change, Ian Lonergan and Sebastien Maloney, who were CEO and CFO at Charter Court respectively, have both taken consulting roles within the group, while Andy Golding and April Talintyre remain as CEO and CFO of the new lender. Apart from this, little has been disclosed as to what we can expect. I meet Alan at Home House in Portman Square and get straight to the point, asking what has happened following the big announcement. While it is currently finalising the leadership team, the full integration of both businesses is expected to take two years or more. Part of this is having to look at systems, processes and people, all while carrying on with business as usual. He says that the trick is to make it look like nothing’s happening—especially

71 Jan/Feb 2020



“RIGHT NOW, ALL THE CHALLENGER BANKS IN MY MIND LOOK TOO SMALL TO BE EFFECTIVELY COMPETING AGAINST THE BIGGER PLAYERS”


Interview

to brokers and customers. “I think that’s been pretty successful so far.” Alan is currently leading a piece of work on culture to ensure that both organisations end up complementing each other, rather than clashing—helpfully, the commonalities are already there. They have both won a Sunday Times Best Place to Work award. Additionally, 10 years ago, Charter Court used to service some of OSB’s mortgages. As a result, both companies were already quite alike in nature and familiar with each other’s senior teams. Alan divulges that they conducted staff surveys across both firms to understand what they wanted to talk about, and culture came out as one of the big topics. “… Consequently, we’re very focused on making sure we don’t get it wrong.” However, he believes it’s more about building on it, rather than changing it.” In addition, Alan’s attention will be on finding out how the group can squeeze more out of what it has already got by taking some of the “grit out of the engines”, where processes are not as good as they could be. This may include transferring skills or procedures from one place to another. In a year’s time, he aims to have made several small service improvements. “…I always say, ‘Don’t just try to [do] one big thing, go and do 12 little things,’ and then when you look back, you go, ‘Actually, [it makes] a big difference [when] you do it in bite-size chunks.’” To do this, he will be analysing the group’s systems, procedures and lending policies, which have grown up in individual organisations, to see whether it makes more sense to do certain things now as a combined outfit. “We’re both successful businesses, but we do things differently,” he states, pointing out that Precise Mortgages, for example, offers quick, automated decisions, whereas Kent Reliance for Intermediaries is much more manual in its approach. “…Some brokers like manual and some like automated— some might like both,” he continues. Around 18 months after the merger, he hopes that brokers will look back and find that turnaround times, service, processes and products are better. Will there be much duplication between the distinct brands’ offerings? Alan doesn’t think so. He says that once they looked at each other’s lending in more detail, its crossover was “a lot less” than it thought it was going to be. For example, while InterBay offers bridging, it is mainly unregulated, whereas Precise Mortgages sits largely in the regulated space. InterBay also does commercial,

while Precise Mortgages doesn’t. “And we found that right across resi,” he reveals, stating that Precise Mortgages gets lots of new-build business, while Kent Reliance for Intermediaries doesn’t do any but, instead, has a shared ownership offering—which Precise Mortgages doesn’t. “So, the complementary nature of these two is actually even better than I thought it was going to be.” He tells me that, from a marketing perspective, he tracks all of the group’s brands—including its competitors­—and says that he will be concentrating on its individual brands. “…I’m betting I can get those more at the forefront of brokers’ minds than they currently are,” he says determinedly. Over the past decade, the two lenders competed against each other, however, now it looks the new lender will challenge the market even more aggressively than ever. “…That’s what I like doing,” he admits. “Every morning that I get up it’s a competition, it’s a fight … lots of people are getting out of bed [to] nick our business.” He explains that anybody who works in the mortgage market is, to some extent, after the same customers. “…Sometimes, just seeing something new reinvigorates everyone,” he says, adding that it is witnessing “a real buzz” within its teams, because everyone’s excited about how far the lender can go. “OSB and Charter Court were competing two months ago, now they’re collaborating.” He ponders that if he was one of its competitors, he would probably be thinking that this could be problematic for them. His personal belief is that there will be more consolidation in the challenger banking space. “Right now, all the challenger banks in my mind look too small to be effectively competing against the bigger players,” he says. “We’ve already seen Clydesdale and Virgin merge. I think it’s inevitable that there will be more.” He adds that an attractive aspect of the OSB-Charter Court merger is that both firms decided they wanted to act on it early and, therefore, “picked the best partner”. I quickly realise the extent of this power move. In OSB’s Q3 2019 trading update, it revealed that the combined group had a loan book of over £17bn, and collectively did a staggering £1.7bn of new originations in the quarter. I ask Alan how else the business will get to its goal of becoming one of the biggest specialist mortgage lenders in the UK— apart from the obvious additional resource that comes with being a larger outfit. “Well, there’s only two ways 74

Bridging & Commercial

you can do it, really,” he says. “You can originate more mortgages organically … or you do it through inorganic means—maybe buy other businesses or enter new markets.” However, he adds that no detailed work has been done on that. Another benefit is its diversified funding platform. As a result, the group believes it is likely it will be able to attain cheaper funding. “If you achieve a lower cost of funds, you can price your products more competitively, and if you price your products in such a way, you can get much closer to the high street lenders, because they have [a] superior cost of funds to smaller lenders,” he clarifies, which means that if challenger banks start merging and achieving this, they could finally edge closer to/infiltrate the big six. He believes that brokers should be happy because for every pound the group lends, it is an intermediated pound. “If they go to another lender, anyone bigger than us, well, a pound of new lending doesn’t end up as a pound through the intermediary market,” he claims. “So, intermediaries should be rooting for us.” As a bigger entity, it also has a better chance of withstanding market shocks, which brokers are becoming more wary of in the wake of a number of mortgage lenders exiting the market—and this could accelerate if the economy gets more challenging. “…What normally happens to a mortgage lender in a downturn is the arrears exceed the amount of capital they’ve put to one side,” he explains. “It’s a bit like choppy waters—if you’re in a dinghy, it’s more likely to capsize than a big cruise ship.” Basically, a lender’s bulk, access to capital and superior resources are key to stand it in good stead in uncertain times. He also adds that the group has a very low cost to risk. “Brokers should be rooting for that as well, because they [don’t] want lenders [to] be going out of the market—they need lenders to be able to place their business.” While it’s still early days, and it isn’t set to make a huge fanfare about the subtle improvements it will make, it sounds like Alan will be extremely busy, and brokers are likely to be impressed with the overall outcome. “I will probably not be seen out very much over the next 12 months,” he laughs. Sure, Alan. Sure.


Interview



T HAS BEEN CLAIMED THAT THE BRIDGING MARKET HAS SEEN A RISE IN RECEIVER APPOINTMENTS OVER THE PAST SIX TO 12 MONTHS. ALTHOUGH LENDERS MAY BE RELUCTANT TO ADMIT TO THE TREND, RECEIVERS ARE NOTICING THAT BORROWERS ARE FINDING IT INCREASINGLY DIFFICULT TO REFINANCE, RESULTING IN MORE DEFAULTS. WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENS DURING THE COURSE OF RECEIVERSHIP, WHERE DO THE COMPLEXITIES LIE, AND WHAT COULD THIS DEVELOPMENT MEAN FOR THE LENDERS, BROKERS AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, CUSTOMERS IN OUR SPACE? WE DECIDED TO BREAK IT DOWN FOR YOU Words by simon thompson


Explained

CG&Co, a property receivership specialist, reported a significant growth in the volume and value of property-related cases during 2019. It experienced a 40% rise in the number of appointments and a 200% increase in the value of the properties under its control to £300m.

WHY DO LENDERS APPOINT RECEIVERS? Receivers can be called in when a borrower fails to pay interest, a loan goes over term, or the borrower breaches conditions of the loan agreement. As a partner at Belleveue Mortlakes Chartered Surveyors & LPA Receivers, Hinesh Varsani oversees the receivership process. He claims that, in most cases, the borrower has simply mismanaged their funds and assets. In other instances, they have been too ambitious and left themselves overexposed. More recently, Belleveue Mortlakes has been more active in prime London, where assets are owned by international investors. He explains that currency controls and diplomatic issues often limit a borrower’s ability to bring more money into the UK in a timely fashion. “Some borrowers have the money— [a lot of it]. But [getting it here] is the major issue. Government policies change and, all of a sudden, that international borrower is unable to redeem their loan.” Hinesh highlights that lenders can technically recoup the funds secured against the borrowers’ assets themselves, but instead utilise receivers to streamline the process, maximise returns and limit reputational risk. “The main reason [is] to put distance between the borrower and the lender. If they get bad press saying that they undersold or mismanaged a security or property, then that can destroy or tarnish the lender’s reputation.” Daniel Richardson, partner at CG&Co, speculates that around 99% of established lenders now use receivers. “As their books grow, the laws of probability dictate that there will be a greater number of defaults and they find themselves needing a receiver’s services.” Hinesh adds that lenders which manage the process themselves increase the likelihood of any missteps getting reported to the FCA. Even when it is managed adroitly by finance providers, he says that borrowers faced with losing their homes aren’t any less likely to take their complaints to the regulator. According to him, in the majority of cases, borrowers respond to receivership appointments with litigation. Gary Bailey, managing director at Hope Capital, says that if a borrower isn’t communicative and it cannot see a way to

support them to keep within the terms of the loan in a reasonable period, it may have no choice but to apply the conditions of that loan. He explains that it is only in the worst-case scenarios that this could result in receivership or repossession. “Every consideration and endeavour” will have been taken before this final option is instructed. Lenders should be monitoring their loan books carefully, and skill, care and diligence are said to be key to account performance. “When these are applied before granting the loan, it helps to ensure the borrower’s plans are feasible and that they have strong affordability and a plausible exit,” adds Gary.

RECEIVER RESPONSIBILITIES Although receivers are appointed by the lender, their duty of care is equally to the borrower. They are obliged to make sure the process is undertaken in a way that delivers the best return for the borrower. A fast receivership is a good receivership as, ultimately, the property owner is paying the bill for it on top of any additional default interest. “It’s not fair for receivers to slow down, [otherwise] the equity in the property just gets eroded,” explains Hinesh. Daniel states that a receiver’s responsibilities can involve dealing with tenants, collecting rent and ensuring there’s full compliance with all legal obligations and requirements. “If there’s value to be added, then a good receiver will always find it—from entering into new leases to enhancing the investment values of vacant properties, or finishing part-completed building projects.” RESISTANCE The prospect of losing everything may result in borrowers doing whatever they can to stall the process. Hinesh has seen some engage in mortgage fraud by claiming to be living in places on unregulated loans or alleging they have refinance options, which may be fabricated or exaggerated. “A home is a man’s castle and they’ll do everything to protect it.” He says that it is usually better for the borrower to cooperate with the receiver, as it makes the process far quicker. A shorter period of time to dispose of the asset results in less default interest and professional fees being accrued. Hinesh explains that the borrower can often end up with some money back following the sale of the property— after receivership fees are taken out. Paul Joseph, associate director at Strettons Receivership & Development Consultancy, asserts that it often requires winning over the customer. “…If we can gain their trust and co-operation, then the whole 78

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“THE MAIN REASON [IS] TO PUT DISTANCE BETWEEN THE BORROWER AND THE LENDER. IF THEY GET BAD PRESS SAYING THAT THEY UNDERSOLD OR MISMANAGED A SECURITY OR PROPERTY, THEN THAT CAN DESTROY OR TARNISH THE LENDER’S REPUTATION”


Explained

case becomes easier and cheaper for the borrower because we spend less time.” Daniel highlights that the mere appointment of a receiver often results in borrowers “upping their game” by recommencing payments or quickly completing a refinance.

COSTS The costs are taken out of the funds from the eventual sale of the property, with Paul adding that Strettons’ standard practice is to charge an initial fee on account, followed by a time-based fee. As an example, he says that a security worth £1m may take the same amount of time as one worth £50,000. “The liability may be different, but a flat percentage may not reflect this, and our fees have to be measurable, appropriate and fully justifiable in the event of a [legal] challenge.” Specifically speaking, the initial fee covers accepting the appointment, placing insurance cover, inspecting the property and preparing a strategy report for the lender. Thereafter, costs are charged based on time spent. I am told that most receiverships are done within three to six months, depending on how much litigation is involved. THE INVOLVEMENT OF A BORROWER’S SOLICITOR Hinesh claims that, in most cases, borrowers’ solicitors that get contracted to work against a receiver don’t have expertise in the area. In these instances, solicitors usually end up making the receivership process more drawn out and, therefore, more costly. It also makes managing the process difficult and can create barriers, stopping personal dialogue with the borrower. “When you’ve got a solicitor in between, [just] earning [their] fees … I might tell a borrower, ‘It’s in your best interest to get out of the property,’ but their solicitor might say, ‘Don’t.’” While Hinesh asserts that there is not much solicitors can do to stop the process, he admits that those with the right expertise can be effective in holding receivers accountable and ensuring it is managed in a fair fashion.

“IF THERE’S VALUE TO BE ADDED, THEN A GOOD RECEIVER WILL ALWAYS FIND IT—FROM ENTERING INTO NEW LEASES TO ENHANCING THE INVESTMENT VALUES OF VACANT PROPERTIES OR FINISHING PARTCOMPLETED BUILDING PROJECTS”

a view and say to the lender, ‘Look, we think this borrower is going to be able to refinance, let’s give them a bit of time.’” Steve Burns at Adapt Finance argues that a good broker should have found a solution prior to issues occurring. In cases when they can’t, he says that the broker has an “essential role” among the receiver, lender and client to bring about the best scenario for the borrower. Paul claims that Strettons often deals with those who are able to refinance, but notes that it requires detailed information of [their] offers. “Until the proposed refinance completes, we continue with our strategy because, virtually in every case, as we are appointed, borrowers say they are in the process of refinancing.” If it does go through, the lender still has to pay the receivership fees, and these are added to the borrower’s debt.

AFTER THE RECEIVERSHIP Hinesh speculates that around 35% of borrowers get money back after outstanding debts are paid to lenders, while 65% of cases end up with bankruptcy proceedings. After the receivership process has played out, lenders can look to use personal guarantees to recoup any funds that are outstanding. THE BIGGER PICTURE What is concerning is the potential for higher levels of receivership to attract attention from the FCA. “It makes the whole industry more nervous,” states Steve, adding that it also spills into a valuer’s and lawyer’s workday. He feels that it could lead to a more cautious approach when advising on short-term loans. “Regulators will and should look at these cases. I maintain that the term is often the single biggest issue—give a borrower the correct term to exit the facility!” Paul believes that the impact of more borrowers going to the industry watchdog to complain about the receivership process is that it could present the short-term bridging market in a negative light. However, he claims that if lenders behave responsibly and properly, and appoint registered receivers under the Insolvency Practitioners Association, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Non-Administrative Receivers Association’s scheme, then there should be fewer valid complaints. “There will always be borrowers who feel dissatisfied—that is the nature of the position that they find themselves in…”, he adds. Hence the need to treat borrowers respectfully and sympathetically—even when it may not be reciprocated.

DO BROKERS PLAY A ROLE? Liaising with the borrower’s broker can be extremely fruitful for receivers, for a number of reasons. One is that they can encourage a borrower to see the benefits of complying with the process to minimise the erosion of equity in their property. Hinesh says that they can also give credibility to a borrower’s claims about having refinance options. “If the broker is able to persuade the receiver that [refinancing] is going to happen, the receiver will take 79

Jan/Feb 2020


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Innovation of new products

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Faster completion times

It’s a brand new year, and our sector’s intermediaries are hoping for positive change. In an online poll by Bridging & Commercial—which attracted over 170 responses—we discovered that faster completion times are of prime importance to bridging brokers this year. Interestingly, what came out as least significant was increased lending volumes. We canvassed the market to provide us with more detail, and to see if they agreed with the results

What do brokers deem most important for the bridging industry in 2020?

Danny Robinson, director of commercial at Grey Matters Specialist Lending

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Chloe Dodwell, commercial and bridging specialist at Clever Lending

“One of the main benefits of a bridging loan is how quickly they’re turned around.Therefore, lenders should look to streamline underwriting, which could lead to [speedier] completions. I believe implementing a transparent and efficient service, which provides the best solutions for all clients, will ensure industry standards are maintained.This will [consequently] help to drive the market throughout 2020., and this can also only lead to better client outcomes and satisfaction.”

Higher standards

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Paul McGonigle, chief executive at Positive Lending “…The time to complete is usually nearer to six weeks on average and this is due to the complications of the legal process. I believe this could be simplified. Title issues cause delays and the larger lenders are using panelled solicitors that can take a while to reply to enquiries. While I appreciate that the lender must be satisfied that the security is acceptable to them, I see opportunities where a lender could indemnify the searches for speed, for example.”

Andre Bartlett, director at Capital B Property Finance “I would like to see lenders focus on stability rather than too much on growth and provide the clients with clear and consistent service and pricing. To see the completion time for a bridging loan getting slower in the recent Bridging Trends report is something we should all work towards improving. Obviously, this isn’t all the lenders’ fault, but all the relevant partners involved in the transactions.”

“Speed of applications has to be a must; uncertain times require flexibility of movement and, therefore, speed of action to react to any potential negative or positive changes. Higher quality of service should follow, as they go hand in hand—too many lenders post articles [about] how quick they have completed a bridging case when, in truth, it is not their norm.The fact remains [that] bridging cases can be done in five days from application—[we’ve] done them. Unfortunately, the only reason for failing this comes down to poor service levels.”

“More and more cases are being held up by solicitors. There should be a standard bar that all commercial solicitors meet, and if they fail [to adhere] to the deadlines then there should be some sort of system that they need to answer to. Over the past few months, solicitors have been the root cause of cases dropping off and generally making the process of bridging much harder than it needs to be for all involved … For 2020, I [would like there to be] a uniform commercial service for solicitors. Lenders are starting [this] already with limited company mortgages. This would be a great addition to the bridging sector.”

Ali Sanders, commercial finance broker at B2B Finance


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Terry Pritchard, director at Charter House Corporate Partners “The real area at the top of the list is education for both broker and borrower alike. The problem we have is that the products are often misunderstood and are not offered in all the right circumstances, which is mainly down to ignorance and lack of attention. There needs to be an industry agreed strategy covering not just bridging, but all specialist finance products. It would be a good idea to have a lender forum to start and pool all the areas causing issue and then design a structured education policy to address this. Many of the other issues could be taken care of by doing this.”

Richard Jones, managing director at Pilot Fish

“We have seen a growth in bridging lenders and new products over the past 12 months, which we expect to continue in the short term. At the same time, advances in social media and direct online marketing mean lenders and borrowers are more likely to meet directly without a broker. Our concern, and one that we believe is shared by many of the lenders, is that borrowers may end up with the wrong product because they have not received advice from quality intermediaries. So, of vital importance in the coming year is that the role of the intermediary is promoted and encouraged by lenders to ensure that borrowers get the advice they need, along with access to all new products that are coming to the market.”

Vic Jannels, chairman at Impact Specialist Finance and CEO at the ASTL “The demand from homeowners and investors who want access to fast, flexible finance is clear, and the lending environment has never been more competitive, but the growth of the market is currently restricted by distribution. So, in 2020, I believe one of the most important issues for the bridging sector will be to engage more proactively with the wider industry to educate and encourage more brokers to identify when a bridging loan can be the most appropriate solution for their clients. As part of this, we will also need to address how networks and clubs handle bridging enquiries to ensure we are able to provide all brokers with a clear route to either place or refer their bridging cases.”

Mike Hird, principal at Step-Up Finance “Transparency: if a lender says yes, it should stay a yes. I’ve had too many cases of an eager yes, only to be altered to a no, or a yes, but [with] insufficient funds. Therefore, we need them to be more transparent and honest, from day one.”

Simon Allen, property finance specialist at Searchlight Finance “In 2019, there were too many posts from brokers saying they had been let down by lenders. Bridging is becoming more mainstream and most of the transactions are not specialist in any way. A lot of lenders in the market are after direct business and the only reason I can see for this is to reduce the amount of commission they pay. Broker business should be better packaged than direct business and it is the broker’s role to be the first stage of the underwriting process. Both should save the lender money in the long term. To get the broker on board, we must be able to compare one lender with another and a standardised approach for terms is required sooner rather than later.”

“For those lenders in the bridging sector going into 2020, there is a real need to redefine processes and service propositions to accommodate the shorter timescales required that have recently been slipping. As we all know, bridging is all about flexibility and speed and the requirement for transparency is greater than ever. To have lender(s) on panel(s) that you know cannot only deliver, but do so while offering a top level of service— they will be the ones that will be remembered by clients and brokers alike.” Kim McGinley, director at VIBE Finance

“Lenders and brokers need to work in harmony for the benefit of the client by providing higher standards of service.While some bridging products are unregulated, they should be treated as a regulated process and, as such, lenders should only deal with regulated brokers who are treating customers fairly. This will help to avoid clients becoming trapped in bad deals from the outset, ie with little chance of the exit occurring and scant concern for the potential consequences to the client.”

Steve Burch, short-term lending and development finance specialist at Brightstar Financial “Short-term lending is a flexible product that is as suited to times of uncertainty as it is to times of stability and so, whatever the outcome of these factors over the next 12 months, I’m sure that the market will continue to be buoyant. If we do have a period of greater stability, however, it is likely to stimulate even more investment into the market with increased competition from new and existing lenders diversifying their offering, and this will be good news for clients and brokers.”

“Last year saw a high number of new entrants enter the bridging market. Some have come in with innovative ideas, products [and] underwriting processes. Others have been ill-prepared for the challenges and intricacies and have left shortly after entering.With a record number of lenders expecting to operate within the bridging market in 2020, the advice and guidance of fully qualified commercial/residential finance brokers will be required more than ever to assist clients with choosing the right bridging products.” Colin Anderson, executive director at LDNfinance

Better quality of service

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Sam Le Pard, asset finance adviser at Arc & Co “I think the bridging industry is largely very sophisticated, but we could always use more products. In 2020, it would be great to see more lenders in the second charge bridging space. It is an area that is increasingly required as sales have continued to stall. I’d also be very interested to spot more lenders with expertise in planning. So many developers are seeing planning gains as an early way to add value to their schemes, and it would be [useful] if more lenders could support these types of projects at higher gearing.”

Kevin Thomson, sales director at Connect for Intermediaries


Bridging

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Buy to Let

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Refurbishment

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Developer Exit

Sometimes, size does make a difference Things are looking up for UK real estate in 2020. So we’ve put our rates on big loans down.

2 0 1 9 BRIDGING LENDER OF THE YEAR

Call Octane now on 0345 222 9009 or visit octanecapital.co.uk to find out more.


For use by mortgage intermediaries only. Octane Capital Ltd (Reg No 10481270) and Octane Property Finance Ltd (Reg No 10483453) are private limited companies registered in England and Wales having their registered office at Labs Triangle, Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8AB.


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Limelight a glimpse into our ever-busy schedule

1 Who: Proseed Capital, LDNfinance, Hallcroft Structured Property Finance, Octane Capital, Avamore Capital, Enness Global Mortgages, Zorin Finance Where: 3G pitch at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Battersea What: Pints and slide tackles 2 Who: Quanta Finance Where: 100 Wardour Street, Soho What: Over beers, we discuss being an American lender new to the UK bridging market 3 Who: Belleveue Mortlakes Where: Polo Bar, Mayfair What: The impact of surveyors going out of business and ‘sophisticated gossip’ about the early years of bridging 4 Who: Sirius Where: Swift Bar and Chotto Matte, Soho What: The ‘downstairs menu’, enjoying vodka and tonic with FRESH lime, vegan sushi, and making good use of Christofi’s business card 5 Who: Homes UK: The Future of Living Where: ExCel London What: A gathering of start-ups, developers and modern home builders deliberating over the future of housing and living 6 Who: Medianett Where: The Spread Eagle, Camden What: Our company Christmas lunch, followed by unlimited cocktails and our favourite Soho club for a 30-minute dance (it was not 30 minutes) 7 Who: London Build Expo Where: Olympia London What: Getting to grips with the ins and outs of the modern construction industry, with a particular focus on sustainability, while making good use of the VIP bar 8 Who: ASTL Annual Conference 2019 Where: Painters’ Hall, City What: How an increase in bridging loan conversion rates may draw FCA attention to the sector, Benson’s farewell, and Roger Bootle’s kind words about Jeremy Corbyn 9 Who: Propfin Where: The Parcel Yard, Kings Cross What: Ambitions to grow the lender’s loan book to £100m by Q1 2020, and how to start a new job—on holiday 10 Who: Octopus Real Estate Where: Wolf & Badger, Kings Cross What: Christmas wreath making (Ed: my jumper got ruined), getting distracted by all the amazing clothes, and eating the biggest curry spread of all time at Dishoom. We still don’t understand the fake moustashes, though

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Backstory

‘The specialist market is too complicated’ Pluto Finance’s new lending director discusses the overly complex nature of the specialist finance space, a potential move into the medium-term market, and his desire for automation and tech to become an integral part of how the bridging sector operates Chris’s career started off in the investment world, before joining Octopus’s real estate division as an internal BDM in 2016. For three years he served as a senior BDM, before becoming Pluto’s new lending director in December 2019, as it aims to increase its focus on bridging. In his new post, he will utilise his relationships with brokers to find out what they are looking for in order to deliver the lender’s vision. What has been your biggest achievement to date while working in the specialist finance market? Being nominated for B&C’s Lender Relationship Manager of the Year in 2019 was a highlight, but my biggest achievement is the network I have built up in the industry. I would hope I am known for my service levels and ability to get into the bones of a deal, rather than as a traditional frontline BDM with a good memory for rates. Brokers and clients trust my ability as a lender and there is no better feeling than completing a deal. Closing over £100m in lending throughout my last full year was also a big achievement. How did you get the role at Pluto? I was approached by a headhunter for the position as I was not actively looking to move. After a couple of conversations with the partners at Pluto, I felt the opportunity was too good to pass up. You have previously commented that there is still a gap in the market for a lender willing to take a practical, commercial and streamlined approach to lending. Why do you think this is and how will you help fill this? I personally feel the specialist market is too complicated and brokers/intermediaries have a tough job on their hands separating [the individual market segments]. Invariably, brokers and clients will go to those they know [and which have] a reputation for delivering, and a clear position in the market.The reality is that you have a plethora of providers with little difference in what is being offered. Even providers who have been historically prominent are being held back by drawn-out processes, strict opening hours, messy online platforms and a lack of flexibility. Pluto has revealed it will be increasing its focus on bridging in 2020—why and how? Pluto is probably best known for its development finance proposition and being able to deliver complex transactions. A move into bridging is, therefore, fairly natural. We utilised our ability to bridge with some existing clients and the

feedback/uptake was brilliant. We are one of the few lenders which have the appetite to lend at the upper end of the market in terms of debt quantum, while maintaining very competitive pricing throughout.This, coupled with a flexible approach to lending, is always going to be of interest. Our experience in the development space also allows us to put ourselves in the borrower’s shoes and understand their situation. Bridging is a great way for developers to add value to projects and capitalise on opportunities that require speed and certainty. Pluto now offers two-year bridging loans and can lend up to 77.5% LTV. What other product innovations or new sector offerings can brokers expect in 2020? Keeping our offering simple is going to be key as being a jack of all trades isn’t the way forward in my opinion.That said, a move into medium-term facilities may be of interest. What one thing does the industry not know about Pluto? Over half of Pluto’s lending is [with] repeat borrowers. It is something we are extremely proud of and is a testament to the team’s hard work. What will be the biggest challenge for the bridging market in 2020? For the first time in a long while, it seems as though it may not be Brexit! The biggest risk for me is the reputation and regulation of the industry. P2P platforms have taken a bit of a beating of late, so I am glad to see the FCA looking at this in more depth.The new regulations are a start, but they focus on the investor rather than the underlying activity. With rates starting to bottom out, lenders are going to start battling in the risk arena again. If this isn’t done sensibly, then it could have a detrimental effect. If you could change one thing about the bridging sector, what would it be? I would love for there to be more automation and for technology to be an integral part of how we operate.There has been a positive shift here in the last few years, but no one has really managed to nail it. 88

Bridging & Commercial

What did you spend your very first pay cheque on? Almost entirely on rent at the time! What is your favourite venue for meetings? Mac & Wild is a great spot for lunch.There aren’t many places that do deep-fried Haggis in London

Most memorable moment from your time in the industry? My first meeting with a broker was fairly interesting. It was a house call where they had metal bars on the windows and plastic sheets over everything. I genuinely thought it would be my first and last. What is your favourite industry event of the year? Surely that is an easy one.The B&C Awards is brilliant, and you never feel like you are at a work event. If you didn’t work in finance, what would you be doing? Social media influencer—I’m not really sure what it entails, but it looks like a good gig!



Paul understands

Paul Mansell understands that you are looking to work with an approachable, adaptable and dependable partner who will look for reasons to say 'Yes' to your proposals. That’s why in uncertain times our book stays open. • Responsive decisions at attractive rates • Flexible funding tailored to individual needs • Loans from the everyday to the extraordinary Paul is one of UTB's Business Development Managers just one of our growing team of Bridging specialists working closely with broker partners across the UK to help them deliver flexible short term loans. T: 020 3862 1002 E: bridging@utbank.co.uk

we understand specialist banking