"I believe there will be some acquisitions and mergers, and some casualties as the year unfolds and the market stabilises."
FR: You joined Hope Capital as managing director at the beginning of the year - what does your role involve and what does a typical day look like?
As managing director at Hope Capital there really isn’t a typical day. Daily, I touch on all aspects of the business, ranging from office management, to IT, HR, marketing, PR, new business, underwriting, portfolio management and funding. My focus is to lead the direction, add value and support all aspects of the business in order to achieve its growth ambitions.
FR: What are Hope Capital’s main aims or focuses over the next 12 months? Do you have any exciting news or plans you can tell us about?
The focus is on growth. This will include lending volumes of course, but also continuing the success of last year, grow the business and build a strong platform for sustainable expansion. This includes broadening our funding structure, revising our product range and then communicating strongly to enable brokers to see where the opportunities now lie with Hope Capital.
For example, we recently reviewed our pricing and launched our lowest ever interest rate, which has been incredibly well received and surprised many in the industry.
Importantly though, a key part of our whole proposition is service excellence. Hope Capital is already recognised as being one of the best service providers in the bridging industry and part of our strategy is to ensure our service remains exemplary. Quick decision making and fast turnaround times coupled with access to underwriters are key service requirements for brokers and things that we pride ourselves on.
We have recently trebled the size of our BDM team to increase our distribution to a much wider audience and are already dealing with brokers who traditionally wouldn’t have considered Hope Capital as a panel lender. With constant feedback that they are impressed with the service and proposition we are now looking to build on these relationships.
Other than that, watch this space, it will remain exciting!
FR: What trends do you expect to see within the first and second charge markets in 2019?
For the remainder of the year I see a prudent and sensible approach across all market sectors. I believe there will be some acquisitions and mergers, and some casualties as the year unfolds and the market stabilises. The leaders as we come through 2019 will be those companies that have invested in their businesses. These businesses will improve even what is already good, have a diverse funding structure, and keep a level-headed approach.
Opportunities will remain strong in all sectors, property prices are likely to be relatively stable (bar the usual geographical bubbles), while competition will continue to become more challenging and therefore drive more innovation. The trend will continue where businesses that build strong relationships based on mutual trust, respect, transparency and common goals will succeed.
FR: What are the biggest issues facing advisers in the current economic environment and what should they be aware of when dealing with clients?
Economic uncertainty, regulation and technology advancement are always topics for debate. The economic influence is beyond anyone’s direct control. Embracing technology will be perceived by many advisers as the way forward, by others as a necessary evil and by some as nothing more than noise. Regardless of the technology it’s the human touch that really makes the difference.
On daily basis the biggest challenge is always providing suitable advice and products for their clients. Recently we have seen an uplift in regulated cases being presented as unregulated cases. Fundamentally the root cause will be a poor Fact Find or a lack of understanding of the subtleties of regulation. Brokers need to ensure they are vigilant and don’t become complacent as their business matures.
Additionally, as the market becomes more competitive, there will be what is perceived as a price war, with lenders driving down rates to gain more opportunities. From an adviser’s point of view this can be challenge; I use the phrase “perception of a price of war” carefully. Some lenders will be become innovative with their pricing which can become misleading for advisers, particularly around the true cost over the term of the loan for their clients. Transparency is essential between an adviser and client, both need to understand interest rates, costs and any other management fees throughout the term of the loan.
Advisers can easily be misled on the appropriateness of a bridging loan product, so it’s essential they work with lenders who are transparent before completion of the loan.
FR: Financial Reporter recently launched its second Women’s Recognition Awards, what changes would you still like to see in the industry and what advice would you give to someone starting out in financial services?
Across all sectors of the lending industry there is a male dominance, particularly in the senior management ranks. Over my years in the industry I have met some great leaders that are women, but who have not necessarily been encouraged to reach their full potential. It would be great to see more women get the opportunity to soar to the pinnacle of the industry as leaders.
At Hope Capital we have more women in the leadership team than men and all provide immense value and excellence to the business.
In terms of advice, entering the market today is probably harder than it has ever been. Determination, resilience, drive, and motivation are all key requirements for anyone entering the industry. Work hard, gain knowledge and experience, plan well and don’t cut corners are always good advice.
Creating and being part of the right culture and working with like-minded people is also essential. Reputation is everything, so understanding the needs of all of stakeholders and delivering their needs and expectations will build success. Importantly set out your personal aspirations and go for them, then enjoy the journey!
FR: If you could see one headline about financial services in 2019, what would it be?
“Lending booms across, all sectors, as the economic restraints are removed”.
The overused, dreaded “B” word remains at the forefront of many economic discussions. It would be great to see those clients who have paused with their plans, and those entrepreneurs who have put things on hold, start to drive forward to achieve their aspirations again. Often it is said “money makes the world go around”, in fact it is “credit that makes the world go around”. It would be great for people to again have the confidence to fulfil their ambitions and in doing so, gain prosperity by borrowing the money to ensure these ambitions are achieved.