B&C Awards 2021 hosts virtual judging day

On Thursday 15th July, a virtual judging day was hosted on Zoom for industry experts to decide the winners of the 13th annual B&C Awards.

Online voting closed on 31st May after the deadline was extended in light of the event date being pushed back to 6th October.

The shortlist was announced on 15th June.

The two judging panels spent hours discussing and ultimately selecting the winners in 22 of the 24 award categories ahead of the ceremony — in association with United Trust Bank — which is being held at the Hurlingham Club in Fulham.

After looking over the supporting documentation and (some very entertaining) video testimonials from the shortlisted companies and individuals in the bridging, commercial, development, and specialist banking markets, the judges voted for who should be named the winners and highly commended.

The broker panel, chaired by Rob Jupp, CEO at Brightstar Group — who managed to forge ahead, despite coming down with Covid — logged in at 9:30am to judge the lender awards.

Once the brokers finalised their decisions — with the session going on until 12pm — the lender panel, chaired by Anita Maclean, director of strategy at Recognise Bank, met in the afternoon to deliberate the shortlisted candidates in the broker categories.

The period for consideration for these awards was between May 2020 and May 2021.

This year’s judges featured numerous new faces in a bid to bring in more diversity of opinion and experience. 

Commenting on the virtual judging process, Rob — who has been involved in the awards as a judge and lately as a chair for the last four B&C Awards, said that “on the evidence of Thursday’s judging, the industry is certainly in rude health.”

Broker judging panel logs in bright an early

First-time judge Amadeus Wilson, head of short-term finance at SPF Private Clients, highlighted that some who entered a category discussion with a fair intention to vote for a specific lender, “ended up voting for another following information provided from fellow judges”. 

It was also Sam O’Niell’s, senior finance broker at Clifton Private Finance, debut as a judge, who stated that taking part was a “milestone” in his career.

“The process was surprisingly slick considering it was done virtually, which always takes the shine off things slightly, and once again showed the durability and the resilience of those involved — Rob in particular chairing the meeting from Spain! 

“As a first-timer, I was given my space to speak my mind and every judge’s opinion held the same weight, despite a really diverse representation in terms of expertise and experience. 

“The debates were extremely interesting as, on the whole, many judges agreed with each other on numerous points, but the differing opinions led to a few changed minds and swayed votes, showing people were actually listening to each other’s points of view and didn’t go in with their blinkers on.”

Jo Logan, bridging and development finance specialist at Brightstar Group, felt honoured to be part of the proceedings as another judging newbie.

“It was great to be involved in the discussions, making what we consider to be the best decisions for each award. 

“It was very challenging as the finalists were of a very high standard.”

Marc Champ, managing director at Wharf Financial Services, added: “Being on the judging panel for the first time was a great experience. 

“It was clear to see that the research and effort that had gone into each judge's opinions was in-depth. 

“There was a great mixture of opinions, but the healthy debate which followed always led to a worthy winner being decided. 

“The awards really have gone from strength to strength and the big industry-leading names vying for an award demonstrates how highly regarded they are — they are now a kite mark for the bridging and commercial industry.”

Alasdair McPherson, head of partnerships at Rangewell, stated that during a year when the challenges facing property lenders were significant, the quality of submissions had “never been higher”.

“The common thread among almost all the finalists this year was their professionalism and consistency throughout the pandemic, as well as their focus on finding innovative ways to support both borrowers and brokers through the toughest of times.”

Piragash Sivanesan, founder of Totum Finance, highlighted that every judge recognised that it was important to choose based on rigorous discussion and, ultimately, merit.  

“I also feel that some of the thought processes that came up were interesting, in particular the need for lenders to stay connected to valuers. 

“It was good to see so many new entrants to this year’s award categories, which must be an indicator of a vibrant marketplace.”

Lender judging panel logs in at 1pm

Lender panel chair, Anita, said it was a real pleasure to have been invited to chair the B&C Awards. 

“The calibre of the nominees really stood out across all the categories this year.  

“I was really encouraged by the positive and honest debate and would like to thank all the judges for their participation. 

“There were a number of categories where it was extremely close and made it very difficult to select the winner among the nominees.”

Emily Machin, head of specialist finance and new-build at OneSavings Group, said that as a new judge, it was great to be part of the discussion.

“The amount of effort that goes into the submissions is phenomenal, and it was a pleasure reading through each one — and that made for some difficult decisions!”

Asim Shirwani, chief commercial officer at Lendhub, considered this year’s judging panel to represent a “wonderful cross-section of the bridging and commercial lending industry”, ranging from CEOs and MDs, to front-line originators, marketing and operations. 

“This gave the voting process an excellent blend of the different perspectives you need to select winners from a pool of very talented nominees that had stood out in unprecedented times,” he commented. 

Samantha Emery, BDM at Glenhawk, found the process and deliberations “really exciting”.

“It’s clear to see the talent among all the nominees across the sector. 

“I thoroughly enjoyed hearing different people’s perspectives, and think we have some super deserving winners, with many who were so close.”

Charlotte Rutter, head of marketing at Roma Finance, thought the process was managed with professionalism and integrity. 

“I was delighted to have been asked to be part of such an important task and loved the debate that took place. 

“The finalists are all so deserving and there were some really tough decisions made.”

Mark Quigley, managing director of UK real estate finance at Beaufort Capital, added: “I commend B&C for running these annual awards and to all of the applicants for taking the time to shoot videos and/or obtain excellent testimonials.”

The names of the winners will be kept a closely guarded secret until the sold-out African Safari-themed event on 6th October.

You can remind yourself of all information in our ‘Everything you need to know’ article.

To view last year’s winners, go to B&C Awards 2020: The winners.

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