Beth Fisher

Editor's Letter: Why we must stay confident in our offering

The last day of the summer has passed and the next six months are going to be tough for many.

With Covid-19 infections climbing, and the prospect of half a year’s restrictions ahead of us, the people of the UK have no choice but to learn to adapt yet again to another new normal—and I don’t doubt that we can.

Towards the end of September, chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed his Winter Economy Plan, which included the Job Support Scheme; the extension of government-backed loans to struggling businesses; and more time and flexibility when it comes to the payment of VAT. While the economic response to coronavirus was welcomed, the worry is that we are going from one costly knee-jerk reaction to another, with the need for a long-term plan—which supports all sectors—evident. 

This year’s environment has meant that it has become much more difficult for businesses in our sector to create and stick to their own strategies, many of which would have been drawn up pre-Covid, but I have been watching with interest the number of companies, in spite of this, that have not only been able to continue with their ideals to expand , but, in some cases, outperform their original goals. Aspen Bridging is one such company, which is expecting to surpass its 2020 targets due to its quick reactions to what is happening on the ground. Funding 365’s Mike Strange and Hope Capital’s Jonathan Sealey also discussed how the nimbleness that their businesses benefit from has meant that they have been able to continue their growth trajectories, boasting record figures and entering new markets. 

Having spent months in the virtual world, we decided to step out of our home offices and give you some IRL moments for the 11th issue of the Bridging & Commercial Magazine. For our cover story, we had our first industry outing at a pub with seven bridging professionals (which conveniently took place before the six-figure rule was implemented) to document our emotions, experiences, and predictions for the market. Our peers have also recommended their favourite venues that have made them feel Covid-safe while getting together with colleagues, clients, friends and family, as we all attempt to get back to some degree of normality. 

While the ‘faces’ of our industry normally come in the form of CEOs, MDs and BDMs, we wanted to represent the thoughts of some of the integral roles behind the scenes. For this issue’s backstory, we interviewed Roma Finance’s new head of customer service and collections, Deborah Chaplain, about her views on implementing policies amid this crisis. Elsewhere, we spoke to KSEYE’s bridging head of legal, Nisha Rayvadera, about what she’s experiencing as part of her fairly unique position. 

We look at how family offices are helping to fill the bridging funding gap for super prime property transactions, why third-party loan servicing can mitigate operational risk and attract new funding lines, and why long working hours could be affecting the state of brokers’ mental health

One of the biggest topics I have been following over the past few months is how the education sector has had to adapt, twist and turn during the pandemic—something many parents in our sector will know all too well. Stakeholders in the PBSA market—often referred to as the ‘golden goose’ of property investments—have been holding their breath since March in anticipation of final numbers at UK universities. We spoke to multiple experts to find out why they think investment in this asset class won’t make a U-turn. However, confidence may be knocked again, as recent reports of thousands of students who have started the term already isolating as a result of Covid outbreaks cause outrage, upset, and worry across the country. As with most industries, we must aim to be positive and find new ways to solve problems, while maintaining and increasing our support of each other. “…We must, as a sector, keep confident in our assets and offering,” said one expert—and this advice can be applied to all of us. 

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