Retail Finance: 100% loans and fish 'n' chips - an alternative option for brokers

Retail Finance: 100% loans and fish 'n' chips - an alternative option for brokers


By Rebecca Hobson and Shelley DeBere 

Providing a detailed, step by step guide to retail finance and what exactly is in it for the broker, last week saw 2010’s third and final Special Business Finance Seminar delivered by First Merchant Finance (FMF).   

Established in 1995, FMF grants loans for the purchase and refinance of leasehold retail and catering businesses in England and Wales. Lending anywhere between £50,000 and £500,000, the firm works through brokers only, awarding an automatic 2% commission on completion. Whether introducers add on an extra fee to their client on top is at their discretion. 

Based in Surrey, FMF has been providing seminars nationwide since 2005 in a bid to educate brokers about retail finance, and having heard glowing reports about these conferences, Bridging & Commercial decided it high time to head down to Marylebone and see what the fuss was about.

“It is my intention that by the end of this morning’s seminar, you’ll understand what we do, you’ll love it, and most importantly, you’ll be able to sell it,” explains director and underwriter Richard Hamlin in his opening speech.

“All we seek to do is give you the tools that will equip you as a lending partner. The result is we are open for business and ready to help. We are busier than ever.”

Speaking to a full room of about 60 brokers, IFAs and solicitors, Richard was the first of nine speakers kicking off the day’s events with an outline of the current market and how retail finance features there.

Promising no ‘waffle or idle musings’, just ‘hard facts’, the director emphasised that FMF was, was “100 per cent broker driven” before introducing the day’s format; aimed at providing the delegates with a step by step guide through the First Merchant Finance process.

Stage 1: Submitting a New Case

Richard was followed by his brother Warren Hamlin, also a director of the firm, who outlined the first (strikingly simple) steps involved in submitting a new case.

Stage 2: The Business Valuation

Next to speak was Justin Cain of Pinders Business Valuers who explained the pitfalls of lending against a business rather than a property.

“We are effectively the eyes and ears of the lender. We identify any defect with the property and then report back to First Merchant Finance. Minor details like, if we are looking at a kebab shop – is there a busy pub nearby? If we are looking at a florist – is there a cemetery nearby?”

Stage 3: The Legal Stage

Justin was followed by another excellently presented talk, this time by Nick Goldstone of Magrath LLP Solicitors and Claire Campbell of TWM Solicitors LLP. Both part of FMF’s legal panel, they explained the precise legal process involved in taking out a loan with First Merchant and the importance of transparent communication between the borrower’s solicitor and that appointed by FMF.

Post completion / Business Monitor Programme

Rounding off the first half of the seminar was Martin Norwood of MIS Business Consulting who explained the importance of monitoring companies once they’ve been lent to, so as to ensure the business is functioning as desired – regardless of whether the loan repayments are being met.

“First Merchant Finance care about their clients even after they have lent them the money and the repayments are being made. They continue to look into how the business is being run. We make our first visit within two weeks of the loan being completed,” Martin explained.

MD of First Merchant Finance Tony Hamlin and Gulay Danis of Greenwish Mortgages

Session Two : working with  First Merchant

The second part of the seminar took in a talk from Stephen Johnson of master broker Commercial First Partners (CFP), detailing how intermediaries could work with FMF through the CFP, and a fantastically thorough lecture on how to make good money in the retail finance market – delivered by the managing director of FMF, Tony Hamlin.

Overall both sessions took on an informal feel, with audience members asking questions throughout. Speaking about the seminar, attendee Adrian Fraine, of Edenheart Finance, said: “It has been really good today, we’ve known these guys for a while and they have been around for a long time.

“It is interesting that they are doing 100% loans – which you don’t see a lot of today.”

Nikki McEwan, from Access Finance, was equally complimentary, saying: “The seminar today was excellent and really informative. I wanted to find out how to get into this type of business, I knew that it was very profitable and there are clients out there that need it.

“My experience with First Merchant Finance has been very good – there’s no waiting around like there normally is with other lenders.”

But it was perhaps Julian Lawrence of Choice Business Finance who best summed up the First Merchant Finance experience: “The broker acts as the dating agent, Pinder provides the foreplay, the lawyers makes sure they get it on, First Merchant gives the fiscal lubrication and MIS Business Consulting is in at the end for a cigarette and cuddle.”


  to book your place on the next First Merchant Finance seminar.




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