In the Spotlight with Nick Russell, TAB

We spoke to Nick Russell, sales director at TAB, about the history of TAB’s intermediary proposition, how it supported brokers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and what's next for TAB’s bridging journey.

Related topics:  In The Spotlight,  Specialist Lending
Rozi Jones
3rd December 2021
Nick Russell TAB
"We’ll keep innovating and improving our platform; we are launching a broker and borrower platform where application, loan funding, and redemption can all be accessed and tracked."

FR: You’ve just reached a milestone of £100m under management; tell us a bit about the history of your entry into the intermediary market.

We launched in 2018, 10 years after the 2008 financial crisis. Our founder, Duncan Kreeger realised that not only were traditional lenders too reliant on computer-generated funding criteria - and were reluctant to invest in even the most exciting and rewarding property projects that developers were bringing to market - there was a lack of trust and transparency in the bridging finance space. He saw the need for a new lending model that had the flexibility to assess the merits of the business case and take a holistic view of a borrower’s circumstances - but alongside a transparent funding partner that you could trust. So, he founded TAB.

Now, TAB provides bridging loans and development finance to borrowers who need access to short term capital, quickly. These are unregulated bridging loans on a first and second charge basis secured against residential and commercial properties in the UK. Since inception, TAB has originated over £100m of loans with an average loan amount of around a million pounds. Borrowers that need a loan will be matched with institutional funding or private investors.

While borrowers are using TAB to help finance their own property investments, at the other end of the deal, TAB investors fund loans that suit their appetite for risk and their investment goals. Investors can put in as little as £1,000. While that’s of less interest to brokers, it highlights just how much flexibility there is in our funding model. We have several sources of funding and we’re able to complete all deals.

Duncan knows what he is doing. He was 17 when he started his first company and has since built and sold a £120 million valuation business, managed £400 million of private capital, and completed in excess of £2 billion worth of secured loans.

That’s not what sets us apart though. Those are our key values - trust and transparency. We aim to make them a part of everything we do - we live and breathe them. Even now, with the bridging industry having come so far, I hear stories of other lenders saying they can complete a deal when they aren’t transparent about the circumstances under which they can complete, this could be longer timeframes, different terms etc. We make sure we’re honest with our clients even if that means telling them something they might not like.

FR: How’s business now we’re coming out of the worst of the pandemic?

The pandemic was punishing but we worked hard to get deals across the line and support our developer clients and our broker partners.

Since then, the business has been burning pretty hot. Recently, we completed a complex set of bridging loans, totalling £11.4m, in fewer than 10 days. It was for a portfolio of properties made up of residential, retail and commercial assets across the UK, taking our live loan book to almost £80m. The total loans completed since inception is now £120m.

The loans presented several challenges, including the tight deadline, the complexity of the securities and simultaneously completing five separate loans required five iterations of all of the processes. But with some careful management, constant communication and support from the firms working on the deal, we were able to complete within the required timeframe.

It was our largest completion day since inception (and came only a few weeks after we wrote a £9.25m bridging loan on a hotel development in Poole). But Danny Scoltock, our head of underwriting, and the team worked hard to get this over the line - and none of the complications involved proved insurmountable, despite all the moving parts. These types of transactions show how adaptable we are to clients’ requirements and how we’ll work collaboratively to make sure they secure the finance they need.

As well as deals, we’ve also been busy expanding the team. We hired two new members of staff including Harry Dugg as a new BDM. Harry has worked in specialist property finance for over 14 years. Recently he was working as a national relationship manager at a short term lender where he planned and oversaw sales targets for regional account managers and maintained relationships with clients. His role at TAB is to assist existing clients with their requirements, acquiring new clients and establishing relationships.

And we secured a funding line with a private equity firm and lending platform that funds residential and mixed use bridging loans and development finance. Since the start of the year, we have been looking for suitable funding lines to turbocharge our growth. The private equity firm we signed with has agreed to provide capital to cover the majority of the TAB product range with a view to also supporting new products. Having a source of capital from a company which has a thorough understanding of the real estate lending market is a great opportunity for TAB. This funding line allows us to lend at more competitive rates and provide our borrowers with the much needed capital for their real estate projects. It’s another step in the right direction for the business. We aim to originate quality loans, embrace innovation and improve our technology platform. We remain committed to doing that - but now will be able to do so at a cheaper price.

FR: What’s next for TAB?

Over the last year, we’ve doubled our team and tripled the size of our loan book - and we want to continue to grow headcount and the loan book at that sort of pace in 2022. We’ll keep innovating and improving our platform; we are launching a broker and borrower platform where application, loan funding, and redemption can all be accessed and tracked. We’ll also create an exchange where TAB investors can sell and purchase investments creating liquidity in the property market.

We will review and tweak our existing products, and adapt to market changes. And we will launch relevant new products with features that brokers and their clients want, diversifying our asset backed products with other property investments including property development and fractional ownership. Watch this space for other real estate asset backed return products coming to the TAB market in 2022.

We’re not going to over-stretch ourselves but there’s no question we are ambitious and keen to get deals done.


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