‘I love being the guy who can help – the man with the plan’

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peter barnes MfB for Intermediaries

In our latest Five Minute Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to Peter Barnes the new head of intermediaries at MfB for Intermediaries, the relaunched packager arm of Mortgages for Business.

MfB for Intermediaries provides packaging and deal placement services, helping brokers to help their clients.

When it comes to working with first charge lenders, they specialise in: bridging finance; property development finance; multi-units and mixed-use properties; HMOs; Ltd company buy to let mortgages; portfolio and large loans; and commercial investment & owner-occupier mortgages.

What is the best thing about being in the bridging and development finance business?

I love being the guy who can help – the man with the plan.

When I worked at a bank, too often, it was about saying, “no”.  Now, as a packager, I am the solution.

IFAs or accountants can handle resi cases with their eyes closed but with highstreet lenders not as proactive as they once were, their usual ports of call for bridging loans, property development finance, commercial mortgages and complex buy to let mortgages have dried up.

If they don’t have the expertise, access or time, I get to solve their problems.  Using your knowledge and experience to say “yes” , rather than “no” is a great feeling.

What keeps you focused?

I like to keep my finger on the pulse of the packaging business – I’m a double checker.

Beware if everything is running smoothly!  And I like to keep my promises – that always focuses my mind.

What qualities do you look for in your employees or colleagues?

People who can think outside the proverbial box – people who are capable of thinking imaginatively and using new ideas instead of doing things one traditional way.

I also like people with experience and all-rounders.  All-rounders help with creative thinking because they’re capable of looking at deals from all angles.

I suppose I would say that as I’m a bit of an all-rounder myself.  I have been a consultant mortgage broker at Mortgages for Business since June 2019 but I have almost thirty years experience within a corporate high street bank.

I’ve worked in everything from underwriting and internal audit to project management.  I’ve been a relationship manager for more than 15 years, dealing with the day to day lending requirements of a portfolio of 250 SMEs.

I like to think that helps me understand deals from all angles!

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

Does anyone ever admit they’re a pessimist – I am going to check!  Well, it depends on the topic.

I am risk averse and can be pessimistic; I try to channel that to ensure I consistently deliver successful outcomes for my broker clients.

I am an optimist when it comes to my own performance.  I’m in my min-50s now and I have the back data to know I can deliver!

Having said that, colleagues have told me I have a miserable face, make of that what you will – ha!

What did you want to be as a child?

Unlike most of the people doing this column, I didn’t want to be a professional footballer.

I actually wanted to be a cameraman.  I loved the idea of travelling to exotic locations to film.  I even went for an interview at the BBC.

What will be the greatest challenge facing the bridging and development finance industry in the coming months?

I think it’s holding on to great people.  With the industry so buoyant, people with a depth of experience now represent a shrinking percentage of the bridging workforce and employers will have to work harder to keep experienced staff.

My colleague Paul Keddy, for instance, is an expert in property development finance.  He’s always willing to go the extra mile and regularly attends site and lender meetings to ensure his clients get the results they need.

He has over 35 years’ experience in the financial services industry, working in a commercial relationship role within a high street bank.  His level of experience is invaluable.

And there are other people out there who are seeking a change.

For some people, the pandemic has precipitated a shift in priorities, encouraging them to pursue a ‘dream job’, or transition to being a stay-at-home parent.  “The Great Resignation” was a headline I saw recently.

The other challenge facing development finance is this splitting of the industry between agile, buccaneering alternative lenders, and the high street banks who have either withdrawn from the market or, mostly, lost their appetite to lend.

The new kids on the block have the appetite to lend but don’t have the established brands, meaning the finance is out there for developers – but harder for the uninitiated to find!

Who or what makes you laugh?

I love Not Only… But Also, the BBC sketch show starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore from the sixties.  The Pete and Dud characters are my favourites.

Another British sketch show I enjoyed was Big Train.  Deeply subversive, and with loads of talented people involved from Graham Linehan, Simon Pegg, and Mark Heap to Kevin Eldon, Catherine Tate, and David Mitchell.  That still makes me laugh.

Do you dread Monday mornings?

Once upon a time, I did.  At the end of my banking career, the large corporate environment was beginning to grate a bit.

Working in a packager has changed my whole mindset and made me much more positive – it’s like a weight has been lifted.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’m 53 this year and I’d love to be twenty or thirty years younger again but still know what I know now.  I’d ditch the bank and join a brokerage!

With whom would you most like to have dinner?

Louis Theroux, who has met an absolute smorgasbord of nutters, would be fascinating.

My wife (to be) of course.  And my grandparents.  My grandmother lived in South London during the Blitz.

My grandfather fought in the Battle of Singapore in ‘42 – although I don’t know many details other than that he was shot at when he was in a car and the driver was killed.

I wish I’d asked more about their lives when they were still around.