“We want to be the lender with integrity in everything we do”


Spring Finance

New bridging loan entrant Spring Finance is hoping that a focus on people and service will lead to blooming relationships with brokers and clients as the industry emerges from the pandemic.

The group, majority owned by appropriately named former Masthaven founder Andrew Bloom, officially launched its bridging proposition in the UK in June, following a three-month pilot with just over 40 brokers.

As part of the pilot Spring Finance, which began life in 2011 as a specialist second-charge lender and was acquired by Bloom last October, garnered as much feedback as possible from brokers to see what parts of its new bridging service were doing well and which needed work.

One of the key findings, explains head of bridging Claire Newman was that brokers were appreciative of its focus both on people rather than price and its service focused proposition. That means recognising a good deal and being able to commit to it with pertinent conditions so the broker has clarity on what Spring is looking for right from the outset.

“In a world where people are all talking about the latest technology or speed of service, it is reassuring that brokers actually value having a lender they can trust in and will look after them and their customers responsibly and fairly,” Newman states.

“It is not all about rates or upfront fees. It is about looking at the whole, big picture and how lenders are going to work with a client and customer. There is not much difference in terms of our product from other lenders in the marketplace, but our USP is fairness, trust and openness.”

Jim Baker, sales director of Bridging at Spring, echoes her call.  “We want to be the lender with integrity in everything we do and build true partnerships with brokers and clients,” he says. “We want our clients to enjoy dealing with us and feel that we are all on the same team, working to get deals written.”

Spring describes its focus as treating customers as individuals and not a credit score. It understands that people have different financial backgrounds and believe that just because a customer has bespoke requirements it does not mean that they should be excluded from obtaining affordable finance.

“Communication between ourselves and the broker and working with all parties to get a deal completed is crucial to us,” Baker adds.

“We take the time to understand often complex deals so we can make it a clear and straightforward process for everyone involved. Our underwriters understand the risks in a deal and will focus their attention on those areas from the outset to try to make that deal work.”

Spring wants to give brokers certainty of the credit terms from a price and LTV point of view as well as letting them know in good time whether they will be able to fund or not fund the deal.

“Our credit back terms are different from our rivals in that they have more detail about what we provide and what we require on a deal.

When we issue these terms, we issue all the relevant application documents for that particular loan. Rather than second guess what is needed, we ask the pertinent questions. We don’t need a 16-page application form,” Baker says.

He explains that its brokers and clients will know the pricing cost when the deal comes in with no risk of any goalposts being moved.

“Even with the smaller loans we offer from £50,000 we won’t charge higher pricing just to make more money. We have a flat pricing structure regardless of the loan size. Only the risk of the loan will dictate the pricing,” Baker adds.

“We are approachable, available and proactive. We want to work closely with brokers to get a deal over the line. We will not be the lender which is very stand-offish and constantly asking for more information.”

As such the feedback process during the pilot will also be maintained going forward on every deal.

“We decided to do a pilot before an official launch to test the processes,” explains Newman. “We often ask for feedback from brokers on how things are going and how we can do better and so we incorporated this into the pilot as well.

We are small enough that we are able to make changes relatively easy. One of those during the feedback process was that we were too slow in initiating terms. We took that on board and speeded up the turnaround with quick indicative quotes.”

Another positive response – and one which fits nicely into the desire for more transparency – was an appreciation of the expertise of the Spring Finance team.

Bloom, Baker, Newman, Business Development Manager Ginny Warby and underwriters Louise Young and Jordan Lapid are all ex-Masthaven with the team having over 60 years of combined industry experience under their belt.

It also recently appointed former Director of Bridging Finance, Gavin Diamond, at United Trust Bank as its new chief executive.

“The clear gap we have seen in the bridging market is for a lender that has the experience and expertise to make transparent and robust lending decisions,” says Baker.

“There are so many lenders out there in the market already. Brokers want a lender they can trust in and look after them and their customers. The pandemic has shown it is not just about rates or fees, it is looking at the bigger picture such as doing things the right, responsible and fair way.

One of our USPs is the experience of the team. We want to build on our existing relationships and create new ones in a transparent way and do a good job.”

Baker says there was demand across the board from clients for its range of services during and after the pilot. Indeed, since the end of June and its official launch, Spring is now offering its full range of loans worth between £50,000 and £2 million and covering regulated and unregulated loans, first and second charge, complex credit, heavy refurbishment and light development loans.

It has already completed over 50 loans and has a significant number of pipeline cases  – around 40 – currently being processed with full applications received and fees paid.

An example of the type of loan it is seeing came during the pilot with a £650,000 loan introduced by BuildLoan. The first charge regulated bridging loan was for a customer with complex credit in need of debt consolidation and capital raising. In addition, the property being used for security was being renovated.

Spring announced in July it had completed its first institutional bridging funding line with NatWest and has recently announced the completion of its second bridging funding line with Hampshire Trust Bank – this is one of a number of proposed funding lines to support its strategic growth plans.

These strategic plans include further growing its broker relationships, coverage with lending into Scotland planned for next year and expanding its product range to full ground up development including self-build and commercial.

“We have a really good mix of products and are encouraged by the demand in the market for specialist bridging lending,” Baker says.

“We deal with complex cases and clients with a USP being heavy refurbishment with drawdown. We are also not obsessed with speed, as so many others are in this business. We believe it is the smoothness of the journey which is important and what brokers need.”

Spring Finance also wants to expand its team with Newman keen to hire a bridging underwriter as well as an administrator to support both sales and underwriting.

“That epitomises our team approach,” she explains. “At Spring you don’t get the sales team at odds with the credit or the underwriting function.

We are the same culture and the same people and thus you get consistency of approach whoever you are dealing with.”

This strength and the current state of the market gives Baker hope that further success lies ahead.

“It is a fantastic time to launch a specialist bridging lending proposition,” he says. “I’ve been through all manner of things in my career and even in the current economic climate and uncertainty bridging is popular with clients.

That could be renovating or extending current properties or dealing with a complex credit fallout from Covid. There are so many opportunities for people to get cashflow from their property and bridging can help do that.”

It’s time for Spring to shine.