Leaked astl mail confirms association's 'struggle'

Leaked astl mail confirms association's 'struggle'



Internal correspondence from the Association of Short Term Lenders (astl) which has recently landed in the public domain, communicates the Association’s outgoing CEO Adrian Bloomfield’s observations of the astl’s most recent survey data and general operations.




The email sent to all astl members confirmed that the value of the data in its survey for the period ending 31 March 2012 is “diminished” because only 18 of its 24 members submitted their statistics and a “couple of lenders have recently resigned”. He also added that “there are several other large lenders who have not ever been members and do not contribute”.




In light of this, Adrian confirmed: “The data surveys for the two previous quarters were incomplete and accordingly there are no recent records to provide a reliable, accurate comparison.




“It is significant that 25 per cent of the members have not responded and submitted data for the latest survey.”




He went on to state: “There are 13 members who have not paid their current membership fee”, equating to over half of the members.




We asked Jonathan Rubins, an Executive Committee member of the astl and MD of Alternative Bridging Corporation, to comment on this. He said: “Members of the astl are some of the busiest lenders in the country and as a result have a very limited amount of time to submit their lending data to the association. The job falls on those who are trying to sell money so it’s only natural that statistic submission will be delayed. This also reflects the non-payments – people don’t race to pay anything.”




He added, “The data nonetheless gives a good picture of an informed cross section of the short term lending industry.”




The chairman at West One Loans, Duncan Kreeger, also responded to Adrian’s comments. He said: “It’s disappointing to see the astl struggling like this. We want it to be performing strongly because it is important it unites the sector together and gives it a clear voice. The bridging industry needs a credible membership body, particularly if it wants to be taken seriously by outsiders.”




“The lack of data the astl is able to procure makes it even more important that the bridging industry produces credible, authoritative stats on the size of the industry. Our Index fits the bill perfectly.




“It provides quality data, updated every quarter, that offers the industry more than the patchy data the astl is able to produce. Our latest Index, which is set to be released in the next couple of days, looks timely given the problems the industry is having in producing credible data.”




In the same leaked correspondence Adrian also stated that “There are no current conversation with any prospective members or associate members (sic).”




Jonathan also addressed this issue, explaining: “The open canvassing has been put on the back burner whilst someone takes Adrian’s place.”




And, despite Adrian’s claims that only “one member responded to the question as to whether the data surveys were worthwhile,” Jonathan said, “Adrian is wrong in that only one person has expressed that astl data is worthwhile – in a recent meeting there was a unanimous vote on the use of the survey and everyone agreed to submit in a simplified format.”




With regard to the future of the association, Adrian confirmed that the astl has “no FSA delegation meetings planned”, nor has arranging a meeting “proved to be possible”.




Jonathan responded to this, stating, “Whilst the astl changes its personnel, meeting with the FSA has been delayed. The astl hasn’t pushed for this in recent weeks since the announcement of Adrian’s departure. We were, however, in continual conversation during the MMR consultation period.”




Colin Sanders, the CEO of Omni Capital, added his thoughts: “While not wishing to comment on the detailed points raised in what was presumably intended as an internal communication to the astl membership, there are a couple of observations I’d like to make.




“I’m on record as saying it before, and I don’t apologise for saying again that our trade bodies have a pivotal role to play at this crucial time for the bridging sector. Our activities are under the spotlight as never before, attracting both hugely positive and less-positive attention. With tighter regulation now firmly on the agenda, we have to be seen to be in control while at the same time being aware of our on-going responsibilities.




“As a current and fully paid-up member of astl, I want to see our lender trade body play its full part. With the process to appoint a new chief executive making good progress, I remain confident about its future direction and effectiveness. But we must never forget that the trade body is the servant, not the master, and can only be as good as its membership allows.”




A new CEO for the astl is currently being decided upon

, with the incoming candidate replacing Adrian in the coming months.



Duncan Kreeger added, “The new CEO must be a strong character. Whoever it is, they need to be much tougher on members who don’t pay fees. He or she shouldn’t be afraid of trying to instil a more professional code of conduct throughout the bridging industry. Being more selective with who they offer membership to could be one way forward.”




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