Are lenders listening?

Keith Aldridge of Capital Bridging Finance speaks about lenders in the bridging market and how they ensure they cater for their brokers.

I am writing this piece as I prepare to face the daunting prospect of a hundred or so Association of Bridging Professionals (AOBP) members, asking myself and seven other ‘big gun’ lenders (Rob Jupp’s words, not mine) what our plans are to make brokers lives’ easier in the challenging months ahead.

I say daunting, which it is, but it is also a very welcome opportunity to hear first-hand what the market is demanding from its premier lenders.  As we move away from the inaccurate tag of ‘lenders of last resort’ to professionally structured, respected providers of short-term funding, the need to improve the communication between all stakeholders making the process becomes more paramount.

At Capital Bridging, we took the decision to become an Associate Lender of the AOBP, because after much deliberation and many conversations with other lenders and prominent members of the association, we were convinced that it would benefit our business model and enhance the growth potential of AOBP members if we joined.  We believe we only grow if you are growing.

Joining though is not enough, a member has to become active in sustaining the growth and influence of the association if it is to increase its profile and thus improve the benefits it brings to its members. This is particularly so in my opinion, with regards to your lender members.

Most people in our sector can wax lyrical about how good their service is, how exciting their products are and how much better they are than the competition, but do their claims stand up to close scrutiny? The AOBP forums give members the opportunity to be honest about what lenders actually deliver and to challenge them in open forum.

The Capital Bridging annual survey conducted in January invited AOBP members and others to tell us what they want from us in the year ahead, in the areas of service, product development and stakeholder service. That is, how can we improve the benefits that our valuers and solicitors bring to the process?

Without doubt, what most want is better proactive communication and to feel that lenders are listening to what their distribution want and respond in a positive way. The demand for commercial funding and development finance is set to continue its growth, as the major banks continue to be frustrated by their inability to meet their client’s demands – and so more lenders are seeking new funding lines that are focused on these markets. These funding lines are becoming more accessible, but one thing lenders cannot escape is that they need to have the data to establish how those funds are going to be distributed and by whom – and this is where AOBP members have a huge role to play. Lenders have to encourage them to communicate more, so they know where the demand exists and how that demand may change over time.

Our survey also showed there is a growing demand for longer, ‘short-term loan period funding’, so again, if a lender is to make the most of the opportunities that the market offers – they have to be quick to respond to these demands.

In conclusion, we have a vibrant sector, we have an active AOBP and we have at least eight ‘big guns’ who are keen to work with brokers to ensure growth is sustained.  An annual market size of more or less than £2 billion? Who knows, but what I do know is, if lenders do not encourage you to contribute to their full proposition and brokers do not accept their invitation then growth will not be sustainable and eventually the big banks will return.

Our future is in our hands…if we communicate.

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