Alan Margolis, Head of Bridging, United Trust Bank
In common with the short term sector as a whole, UTB’s Bridging Department had a terrific 2014, and going into the New Year, our own sentiment, as well as that of our broker partners, was positive.
When planning for the year ahead, May’s general election was always going to be the fulcrum around which the Bridging Department’s fortunes for 2015 would revolve. One of the surprising things though, from our perspective, to emerge from the run up to the general election, was, from after the middle of March in particular, how buoyant activity was even though there was clearly some property related activity that was being postponed until after the election – accordingly, the first quarter broke a number of the Bridging Department’s records.
Our loans may be short in term, but an essential part of management is to look to and plan for the long term. Although I cannot say that the election outcome was predicted by us, given the success of last year, we felt that the Department’s business would continue to grow whatever the outcome, though the extent of any growth would naturally hinge on the election result. Accordingly, this year we have already seen three recruits to the Department covering all three areas of the business. In January we welcomed Satch Patel as a Business Development Manager. April saw two further recruits, firstly, Louis Osore-Taylor joined as an Assistant to the Case Managers and assisting Bradley Illman with an Internal Sales function. Secondly, and reflecting the growth of the loan book and the amount of interaction that we have with our borrowers post draw down, Harriet Munslow joined as a Junior Loan Book Administrator.
At present, sentiment amongst our brokers and others whom we meet such as prospective borrowers, is terrifically upbeat and positive with a seemingly universal feeling that the second half of the year is going to be very good for business and short term bridging loans in particular.
Accordingly, we are not resting on our laurels. We believe in the ability of our brokers to take advantage of the all-important positive sentiment, sense of continuity engendered by the new government and the generally positive economic environment and outlook, and we will be looking to develop the team further, so that we can continue to provide the service levels that have won us a number of service excellence awards.
Stepping out for a moment from the fast revolving hamster wheel that the bridging loan business can feel like at busy times, we believe that this year will exceed last year’s record breaking success. There is a distinct sense that the bridging sector, though not without its challenges, has earned its place as a distinct product within the wider mortgage market and that UTB and our brokers are set fair for the remainder of the year.