ASTL needs to unite bridging industry

By Bridging Loan Directory -

 

Speculation and conjecture has been rife for months on who would replace Adrian Bloomfield as CEO of the ASTL. Almost everyone who is anyone has weighed into the debate. It is hard not to feel sorry for Benson Hersch, who has magnanimously stepped into the role. Plenty of prospective candidates would have seen the ASTL premiership as a poisoned chalice. It’s difficult to understate the difficulty of the task awaiting Benson.

He’s been given the job of smartening up an industry peppered with infighting, fierce competition and the occasional bout of backstabbing.  It’s a bit like coming in as a new headmaster to a school of unruly adolescents. One thing is for sure: the industry needs better professional standards. Our surveys of broker attitudes to the professionalism of the bridging industry have produced less than glowing results. In our last poll, almost half the introducers we surveyed felt increased competition in the market had decreased professional standards. One of Benson’s first moves as CEO should be to introduce a voluntary code of conduct. This will help drive up professional standards. Once they increase, the industry will be forced to raise its game.

Before that happens, other short term changes need to be made. Associate members need to feel they are part of the family. In the past, ASTL meetings resembled an old boys club, with associate members locked out of the big meetings and he big decisions. It’s good to see Benson will be opening up meetings to associate members. By being more inclusive, the ASTL can bring the bridging community together under one banner and make decisions which benefit the industry as a whole.

His long term aim should be to improve the reputation of bridging. Perception is everything. With the industry under the magnifying glass of regulators and the wider mortgage market, who still view bridging as the wild young tearaway of the lending family, projecting an image of solidarity and professionalism will be increasingly important.

There is no denying the difficulty of the job awaiting Benson. We wish him the best.

Mark Abrahams is CEO of West One Loans