We Kept Calm and Carried On

Harley Kagan, Group Managing Director

The first article I wrote following the EU referendum said that Brexit would increase uncertainty and that we all needed to adapt to it. I’m pleased to say that that’s precisely what UTB and the vast majority of our customers have done.

To misquote the now infamous WW2 poster, we kept calm and we carried on. And in some style too.

By every measure United Trust Bank has grown. We are physically bigger, moving to an additional floor of CityPoint earlier this year to cater for our expanding teams. Since the start of 2017 we’ve welcomed 46 new people to the Bank across all divisions. We have more people dedicated to sales and marketing for our lending and deposits lines than we have ever had before.Our lending business continues to grow and our loan book is in excess of £800m.

Our ‘new’ second charge mortgage business is now an established player in the market, regularly completing hundreds of loans each month. No surprises then that earlier this year the team picked up an SFI Award for being the best second charge loan provider in the industry. Elsewhere in this magazine you can read about the innovative ENABLE Guarantee we’ve just secured from the British Business Bank. It’s the first time this facility has been adapted for development finance funding and the extra capital it will allow us to release should enable us to support an additional £500m of new housing projects over its lifetime. That’s on top of the funding we already provide within standard capital requirements.

Margot James MP, the Small Business Minister, said that this guarantee “…will make a big difference in helping smaller housebuilders to grow, invest and hire, delivering more jobs and more homes in all corners of the country”. We couldn’t agree more. But we’re not the only ones to have grown. Latest figures from UK Finance show that mortgage lending for home purchases and remortgages has increased year on year.

The FLA has reported strong growth in both asset finance lending and second charge loan volumes. Bridging finance volumes have increased once again and as more lenders, including UTB, are developing their bridging business beyond the traditional London and South East hot spots, this trend should also continue upwards. Many of our broker partners are growing too, developing new services and finding new and better ways to serve their customers.

Uncertainty is here to stay. Change will continue to happen. Whether you believe that Brexit, a slowing economy, cooling house prices or any other factor beyond our direct control will bring opportunity or failure, you’re probably right. At UTB, we choose opportunity every time.