By Kevin Flowerday – Head of Professional Lending
It’s been 12 months since we launched our Professional Lending division here at United Trust Bank and it’s fair to say that the new venture has got off to a great start. We started out with a Tax, VAT, insurance and membership fees funding proposition for qualifying professional bodies and that has now developed to include work in progress/debtor funding and most recently business improvement loans over 36 months. The demand has outstripped our projections by some margin.
It’s not just UTB which has changed with the times. Many professional firms are evolving their services too. The legal market continues to feel the effects of the government driven reforms in personal injury and legal aid work, but the buoyant housing market continues to stimulate fee income across many different types of professional firms. Alternative business structures (ABS) are emerging which are, depending on your viewpoint, either providing healthy competition and reform to the sector or, devaluing skilled services and providing substandard services at a cheaper cost. It all depends on which side of the fence you sit.
All-in-all, the market is definitely in a growth cycle, albeit being tempered slightly in the legal sector by the legal aid reform and the most recent government suggestion around fixed fees for clinical negligence., We are all looking forward to providing our continued support to our valued introducers and their customers through what is generally understood to be the busiest 6 months of the year.
We have now concluded one of the busiest periods of the year for professional lending. July is traditionally a busy month due to partner tax and it didn’t disappoint. The last week of the month saw United Trust Bank funding a variety of large Income Tax obligations as partners needed to settle the remainder of their bills to HMRC within the deadline. August can be a graveyard month for collections and many businesses find that short term working capital injections can help to iron out any wrinkles in their cash flow. September brings renewals of Indemnity Insurance and October, Practising Certificates. It seems Professional firms are never too far away from a big bill and increasingly more of them are choosing to spread the cost over several months with a Professional loan. We receive proposals from a wide range of introducers representing various businesses from law firms to architects and surveyors, to name but a few. Whilst their sectors are quite different, they all face similar funding challenges from time to time.
Feedback from our existing partners in our first year has been very positive. We have adhered to our core values of providing reliable lending with outstanding service from a dedicated team of experts and we are committed to delivering these high standards to our existing and new broker partners as we continue to grow and develop our Professional Loans offering.