Martin's Mailbox: Niche lending on the rise

Martin's Mailbox: Niche lending on the rise


You will usually find me at a football ground as the (ahem) all-conquering Queen’s Park Rangers prepare to trounce the feeble opposition offered by less glittering  London clubs and those also-rans from the north. But it was purely business that took me last week to the Millennium Hotel within Reading FC’s Madjeski Stadium.

A beautiful venue, I must concede, and one where I felt considerably safer parking than in the blessed environs of White City. But where’s the passion? Where’s the history? It’s no Loftus Road, that’s for sure, where every brick, slate and block combine to make it the only true home of English football. But I digress…

Niche Financial Solutions, the recently-rebranded Swindon-based master broker and distributor, had organised an educative seminar for brokers and introducers keen to learn more about alternative forms of lending now that the banks have gone into a prolonged hibernation

Split over two sessions – morning and afternoon – a carefully-filtered audience enjoyed presentations from NFS’s Malcolm Scanlon and Shawbrook Bank’s head of sales, Maeve Ward. Omni Capital was represented by chief executive Colin Sanders and yours truly.

Malcolm opened proceedings with a clear and eloquent explanation of the role of the distributor in specialist markets such as bridging, development finance and secured loans. Maeve provided the secured loan lender’s view, while Colin and I expanded on the reasons behind the rapid growth of short-term lending, and how it offers brokers an alternative opportunity for their clients.

The brokers attending were a desirable blend of the curious, the interested and the experienced – albeit not necessarily in the areas covered by the presentations. I spent some time after the sessions with two very well-established IFAs who have hitherto turned away any bridging enquiries. Gratifyingly, they informed me the event had won them over, and that NFS would be the beneficiary. I hope this means more business for Omni too; as I’m sure does Maeve for our friends at Shawbrook.

Full marks then to Malcolm and his excellent team at NFS. I know how much work they have put into their re-brand and website re-design. It hasn’t been done as a knee-jerk reaction to the booming bridging and secured loan markets, but as a well thought-out strategic plan to reposition NFS in response to sectoral shifts. In doing so – and by intelligently promoting their proposition at the Madjeski – it will help secure their long-term viability when others are questioning theirs.

Now, of course, bridging and secured loans are not a panacea: they are both finite markets with niche appeal (no pun intended). They do, however, offer real opportunities that brokers and introducers ignore at their cost.

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