A new trade association for intermediaries, master brokers and packagers has been launched, called the Association of Bridging Professionals (AOBP).
Formed by a selection of highly experienced bridging professionals, out of an increasing need to provide the sector with a unified voice, AOBP will act as a trade body to help promote a better operating environment in the bridging finance sector, whilst providing essential information and industry analysis to its members.
The association is chaired by one of the industry’s most respected figures, award winning bridging finance expert Sidney Cohen, a man who has been active in financial services for over thirty years.
Commenting on AOBP’s origins, Mr Cohen says: “Every now and then an idea comes to you that is so simple, yet so valuable, that it leaves you thinking, ‘Why didn’t I come up with that sooner?’
“AOBP is such an idea. Its launch will see a huge benefit to both introducers and bridging lenders. I say this because bridging finance is perhaps the only, truly bespoke loan facility available. It is this very factor that creates the need for introducers to have an organisation like AOBP to look after their interests, lobby on their behalf, and provide a central point for them to seek advice and, if necessary, mediate with the lenders.”
AOBP has an executive committee consisting of nine members, each of whom has displayed exceptional dedication to the bridging industry.
The members are: Sidney Cohen, Consultant and AOBP Chairman, Lucy Barrett of W&B Mortgage Solutions, Ray Cohen, Independent Compliance Expert, Miranda Khadr of M K Associates, Jonathan Newman of Brightstone Law, James Rainbird of Pink Pig Loans, Craig Scott of Commercial 1, Danny Waters of Enterprise Finance and Alun Winter of Intelligent Loans.
There are main three types of membership available within AOBP; the Blue Level, Silver Level and the Affiliate Membership.
The Blue Level Associate Membership, aimed at the advisor, provides an associate membership, offering access to special deals within AOBP, use of AOBP’s logo on their company correspondence, attendance to the AGM and a monthly newsletter.
The AOBP has set the fee for the Blue Level Associate Membership at a deliberately affordable level of £20. This is to ensure all viable advisors are able to join, with only FSA regulated or CCL holding advisors eligible to apply.
Commenting on AOBP’s potential, Executive Committee Member and Director of W&B Mortgage Solutions, Lucy Barrett, says: “The idea is to include as many brokers as possible who are involved in bridging, and the more brokers that join, the more we can demonstrate willingness to keep the sector free from the issues which arise from no regulation at all.
“We see no reason why even those transacting little bridging business can’t join, and take advantage of the resources within the association provided they are happy to agree to the code of conduct.”
The Silver Level Associate Membership, aimed more at master brokers and packagers (although open to independent advisors too), provides the same benefits, plus access to quarterly meetings where the member can submit issues for address and discussion.
Preferential rates on AOBP marketing and access to the silver tier logo are other additional benefits.
The annual fee for Silver Level Membership is £240.
The Affiliate Membership is specifically targeted at those who work within the bridging industry, outside of an advisory role, such as solicitors and compliance experts. The membership provides an opportunity for those who serve the industry to have their voices heard.
The membership offers similar benefits to that of the Silver Level Membership and carries an annual fee of £240.
Executive Committee Member, Jonathan Newman of Brightstone Law, says: “I have provided legal services in the bridging industry for many years. Lenders have only recently woken up to the need to pool knowledge and information to form a better understanding of the legal and regulatory framework in which they operate.
“There is a need for introducers and brokers to do likewise. In a climate, where claims management companies specifically target brokers and introducers, and where lenders offering loans under the Consumer Credit Act, can now be held accountable for the acts and omissions of introducers, there is an urgent need for lenders and brokers to communicate with each other and understand respective rights, duties and processes.
“AOBP will be a valuable tool and resource to both.”
Executive Committee Member and Director of Intelligent Loans, Alun Winter, Loans adds: “The establishment of the AOBP is perfectly timed as the short term lending market gathers pace.
“With a number of new entrants to the lending market over the past twelve months, it is imperative that standards be maintained. The views of bridging professionals will now be represented by a single body and the strength of AOBP will be determined by the number of members joining at Silver and Associate level.”
Adam Tyler, Chief Executive of the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers, says: “The NACFB welcome any addition to an unregulated market where brokers can seek advice and help on arranging short term finance.
“We are happy to have been in the initial consultation and to continue to provide ongoing advice. It will provide assistance in this sector, as we strive to see well presented clean “deals” coming from this section of the broker community thanks to the help of AOBP.”