Advantage to AFIG following rebrand
By David Craik
Specialist property finance broker Adapt Finance says it is “moving with the times” after joining forces with market-leading building warranty group Advantage and rebranding to AFIG.
The 50-50 merger will see Adapt assist Advantage’s clients property funding needs but also continue working with existing repeat clients.
It is already operating as AFIG, with a new website www.afig.co.uk launched, and in months to come once the new name has sunken in with all clients and industry partners, the Adapt branding will fall away.
Advantage, which provides Structural Defects Insurance throughout the UK from 7 regional offices, completes over 7000 transactions every year. It has over 75 full time employees and has provided cover and monitored construction projects worth over £7 billion.
Its 5-person strong team also offers development exit finance, commercial and buy-to-let finance. It has deployed over three quarters of a billion pounds of debt, creating over 3,000 homes across the UK and completes about £120 million a year.
“We’ve been working alongside Advantage for a number of years and developed a friendly and professional relationship. But their growth requires the commitment of a fully in-house brokerage.
They wanted to acquire one and we wanted to tap into their client bank and help them find finance. It was a natural step for us both to join together at the hip,” says Adapt chief operating officer Stephen Burns.
He adds that the rebrand was a tough decision to make as Adapt is a well-known brand within the specialist finance industry and with our satisfied clients.
“We did consider the possibility of keeping the Adapt name alongside Advantage’s but we felt it would be easier for everyone to do something new. You have got to move on,” Burns says “But this isn’t just a rebrand – it is the coming together of two leading companies.
It is the same people with the same principles focusing on out of the ground up development. We will continue to service our current clients, many who have been with us since the very start of their journey, just under a different brand.”
Burns stresses the fundamentals of the business including high levels of ‘one-to-one service;’ will continue under the AFIG name.
“We are very hands on with our clients. In fact, we have visited every property or development we have ever lent money on from Day One,” he says.
“You can’t do that as easily if you grow, so we never bothered growing! We were happy with our level of business but then we met Advantage, which is a company which knows how to grow and scale a business.
We have never used CRM before which to be honest is really a bit 1976! It is clearly time to move on but we will not change our personalities, sense of fun and approachability.”
AFIG will look to build its team – doubling its staff team by the summer – to take account of the increase in client referrals. They will have a new office to move into in March, alongside Advantage, following the purchase of a 5,000 sq. ft premise in Merseyside.
It will also house Advantage’s insurance division and a dedicated marketing team from Essential Studio.
“Growing the team is a little scary because we’ve always been a team of 5. We’ve never had employees before. We are just working class lads who went to London in 2014 and knocked on some doors,” Burns says.
“But now is the time to step up the pace, use better technology and take on some exciting talent.”
Unique products are also planned, supported by lenders which Adapt have developed strong, consistent relationships with over the last decade. This involves creating, in time, its own lending platform but more immediately, from March 1, it means the launch of its AFIG overdraft service.
According to AFIG this is a unique facility which will allow a set amount of funds to be drawn throughout the life of a senior development facility.
This, it states, can help keep a development moving when otherwise it might have to pause and can give the developer the additional means to deliver the best possible outcome from the works and the project as a whole.
“It’s mainly for developers,” adds Burns. “They get a facility from the bank, costs go up and cashflow gets tight. The overdraft is something they can draw on for a day or for a year with flexible repayment terms.
It is a product that will sit alongside senior development. It is one we are proud to open with as part of our new venture and help meet our aim to provide the best fully inclusive service to developers across the country.”
Burns is confident that the market will be receptive especially given a better-than-expected start to the year. “Everyone came into 2023 with depression tablets at the ready but they were flushed down the toilet as January went on.
Yes, it’s tougher with higher rates and tighter loan to values and it shouldn’t be very positive. But all of this uncertainty has pushed more demand into short-term finance,” he says.
“There is a greater need for our products now and we are particularly busy at the entry level such as acquisitions.
Developers have accepted that rates are high and variable and have adjusted their business to suit them. We’re feeling positive about how the market is responding. It is a good time for change.”