"Simply speaking, bridging finance is used as a transactional need, used for certainty of funds and speed of completion."
We spoke to Raphael Benggio, head of regulated underwriting at MT Finance, about what he aims to achieve in his new role and the firm's plans in the regulated bridging space.
FR: Tell us about your new role
I joined MT Finance in December 2020 to head up its new regulated division as head of regulated underwriting. Having only launched our regulated lending proposition at the back end of October to a select panel of brokers, it was a very exciting time to come on board.
My role entails managing the regulated team and general oversight of the regulated loan journey from initial enquiry, through to underwriting and legals, and then subsequently completion.
My main responsibilities are to ensure the team is keeping to the MT Finance ethos and consistently providing excellent service to introducers and clients. We also need to strike the balance in maintaining commerciality in our underwriting while ensuring we are adhering to and consistently meeting FCA obligations as a regulated lender.
FR: What do you aim to achieve at MT Finance?
Personally, my aim is to use my skills and experience to build up and grow a regulated offering which is positively recognised and accepted by the industry and broker community. At the same time, I want to ensure that our proposition remains true to our values and is backed by the very best service.
FR: What are the firm’s plans in the regulated bridging space?
Our plan is to take things back to basics.
We feel some lenders, especially in the regulated space, have lost sight of what bridging truly is. Simply speaking, bridging finance is used as a transactional need, used for certainty of funds and speed of completion.
We have gone public with our agreed service level agreements in the effort to prove that we understand the importance of providing excellent service and the need to meet tight deadlines, which are common among regulated transactions.
While we understand that we will not be the perfect home for every regulated bridging case, we ensure that our underwriting is focused on what is essential and is inherently commercial, not littered with red tape. Our pricing is competitive, and our speed and service is second-to-none. We believe this is a winning formula.
FR: What are the challenges facing the industry this year?
Where to start?! The last 12 months have thrown challenge after challenge at the whole bridging industry. From working remotely through lockdowns, adapting to changes in the professional services we rely on, and with some lenders halting lending altogether, it has been a testing time for our industry.
While we hope the end is now in sight with the successful rollout of the vaccination programme and government measures in place to help rejuvenate the economy, we know it is impossible to predict what is round the corner.
As a lender who continued to lend throughout the pandemic and countless lockdowns, we believe we are in a fortunate position to overcome any new challenges. No matter what this year throws our way, we will continue to serve our trusted broker community and, with their feedback, continue to grow our lending offerings.
FR: If you could see one headline about specialist lending in 2021, what would it be?
'Specialist short-term lending plays critical part in economic recovery, following the end of all Covid-19 restrictions', or maybe more selfishly 'MT Finance’s regulated division breaks all gross lending records'.