Recruitment: This isn't Stalinist Russia you know

Recruitment: This isn't Stalinist Russia you know


Four major lenders have recently announced new hires across all aspects of the bridging industry, including underwriting, business development and sales. In such a niche sector, one might assume that it can be very difficult to locate someone appropriately qualified for a bridging position, so what do lenders and recruitment specialists look for when finding an employee?

Is it better to hire someone from inside the ‘bubble’ of bridging or bring someone new into the mix?

Mark Posniak, Marketing and Operations Director of Dragonfly Property Finance, said: “Sometimes you need someone who can hit the ground running and who knows the industry inside out. That can often be the case when you’re smaller as you need industry expertise from day one – or you’ll get nowhere.

“But sometimes hiring from outside the industry can bring fresh insight into your company. Bridging is a business and every business can sometimes do with people from the outside saying, maybe you could do it this way, or why aren’t you doing that? With staff, it’s all about diversity and balance – not too top-heavy, not too inexperienced, not too niche, not too generalist.”

Speaking from personal experience, Alan Cleary, Managing Director of Precise Mortgages, told us that so far, the lender has recruited only from within the industry to best utilise the experience and contacts of potential employees. 

Kerry Stephens, Senior Executive Consultant at Coast Specialist Recruitment, explained: “The majority of our clients are trying to fill a gap, so it is difficult for them to take on employees without any experience. Taking candidates who are new to the lending market can only work if the company has the benefit of an ‘in-house’ trainer or technical guru, who can ‘fill in the missing information’. 

“Accuracy and quality have always been critical, but now more so than ever! If you do not dedicate enough time to training new staff you will end up with a scenario whereby the internal company intelligence becomes diluted.”

Richard Deacon, Sales and Marketing Director at Masthaven Bridging Finance, added that, whilst there is no stock answer, “Industry experience is beneficial, but also so is having worked in specific areas of the industry. I myself came from a packaging background, so knew the pressures the packagers were under to deliver in a time honoured way to their clients.”

Kerry highlighted that: “We have recently seen a lot of movement from the packaging environment into the lender market. For instance, in underwriting recruitment if a candidate comes across from a packager environment, having never held a mandate, the client will still prosper from the product knowledge that the candidate holds. This drastically cuts the amount of training time needed.”

The consensus amongst lenders appears to suggest that at least some knowledge of bridging is useful for new employees, particularly those smaller companies without the ability to hold dedicated training days. 

However, is there a danger that recruiting from another company may bring with it bad habits?

Christian Faes, Managing Director of Montello Bridging Finance, emphasised that in the last few years, the market has moved towards being more professional: “This is undoubtedly a positive thing for the industry. Employees that have worked at a number of different bridging finance companies no doubt bring different experiences from having worked at each lender. 

“I imagine that this will have contributed in a positive way to their skill-set and ability to make a contribution to their respective current organisations.”

Richard said, “We have hired a couple of members of staff from other bridgers and they have been excellent with no “bad habits” at all. I think that a person’s bad habits are something to do with them as much as the company they worked for before.”

So, if looking to hire from another company, how do lenders go about doing so?

Specialist recruiters like Kerry can be extremely important in this kind of niche industry. Alan explained, “I mainly recruit via a head-hunter with whom I have had a long-term business relationship. They identify potential candidates and contact them to see if they are interested in a move.”

Mark highlighted the close nature of the sector: “The bridging world is a pretty small one. People talk, people network as they do in any sector. If you’re heavily involved, you often get wind of things, such as someone looking to make a move.”

The specialist nature of bridging seems to imply that hiring someone with prior experience is beneficial. 

Do the lenders ever worry, though, that hiring only those who already work in the industry may lead to too much similarity between them? 

Mark left us with a final comment, “This isn’t Stalinist Russia you know. The people in bridging come from all sectors and all walks of life. 

“They don’t always start in bridging and stay there but start elsewhere and move into bridging, bringing with them skills from other sectors. A degree of homogeneity is no bad thing, as consistency resonates well with the end-user, but you need a degree of difference – and differentiation – too.”


By Miranda Atty

Leave a comment