Jack Coombs

Experienced decision makers are the key to successful bridging

Bridging – by its very nature – needs to be able to handle the complex, the unusual and also deal with new information.

The likelihood of this being carried out by inexperienced junior staff supported by layers of management is limited, particularly when underwriters and BDMs step on each other’s toes.

Players in the market operate without the BDM/underwriter distinction and this clearly has its benefits from the customer’s perspective.

However, the consistency that is gained in this way is only maintained if the underwriting process is front-ended as much as possible.

If the checks are left to the latter stages and the customers’ expenses and – perhaps even more importantly – their time commitment is already made, it is inevitable that deals will breakdown late in the day.

Reviewing the customer’s plans swiftly and realistically at the initial quote stage and then simply running credit checks and Land Registry searches at the DIP stage – with the right underwriter – will avoid most of the last-minute wrangling or deal problems experienced by those leaving this to a later stage.

Bespoke is a word often used in bridging. However, to offer a truly bespoke service is rare; it really does require experience and access to qualified professionals.

When presented with a deal with complex legals, our decision makers at Aspen will pick up the phone to senior legal partners to obtain an early-doors understanding of what is feasible and how it will work.

If there is an ambiguity around regulation, we will resolve this with the leading UK authority in minutes at the initial quote stage.

This sort of process would be impossible without these resources or without the people with the knowledge and understanding to use them.

If, for instance, the case involves part-finished developments, the underwriting skills needed become even more important.

Here, the ability to determine where the line should be drawn on what is and is not required is something that only experience and training can provide.

To provide fast and accurate responses – which are not liable to regular revision – is something that a larger and more process-driven lender – as opposed to one that is smaller and more experience-driven – is less likely to achieve.

Looking forward to 2019, there is a significant opportunity for confident lenders to offer a simpler and reliable service in this way.

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