‘Brokers are able to provide fantastic solutions for their clients’

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In our latest Five Minute Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to Steve Matthews, Head of Residential Lending at Octopus Real Estate.

Steve joined Octopus in 2018 and is now Head of Residential Lending, responsible for buy to let, regulated bridging loans and unregulated bridging loans.

He is supported by a team of 30 across Sales, Credit and Customer. With close to 20 years working in the financial services industry, Steve has a wealth of experience in the intermediary and lending market.

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

Our residential lending team focuses on bridging and BTL, we have a separate department for residential development.

I really enjoy being in bridging; it’s a fast-paced environment, it’s competitive and it’s innovative.

Over the last few years, residential bridging finance has been adopted by more and more brokers, and with the increased understanding of what bridging can offer, brokers are able to provide fantastic solutions for their clients.

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

Team players. Our job as a lender requires us to provide a best-in-class service to our brokers and their customers. This requires dedication from the whole team and not just one individual.

I look for people who pride themselves on providing great service but also have the knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit to find solutions when deals aren’t straight forward, as is often the case in specialist finance.

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

I’m a Libran, so I’m constantly accused of sitting on the fence, so as you’d expect I’m a bit of both. Ultimately, if I had to choose I’d like to think I’m an optimist.

What did you want to be as a child?

I never really knew what I wanted to be growing up; all the usual things you’d expect, but I changed my mind all the time.

I got into financial services in my early 20s and it seemed to be a natural fit for me, and I’ve enjoyed it ever since.

My favourite saying on this subject is: I’ll know what I want to be when I grow up!

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

The cost of living crisis is of course the natural answer. BBR is on the up and expected to continue to rise.

Combine this with increasing energy costs and forecasts of inflation at 10%, there’s no doubt there is some cause for concern for the near future.

We’re also witnessing an abundance of debt being put into the market; this drives competition amongst lenders, resulting in low rates and high risk.

I think this is a concern when you consider the wider economic forecasts, so I feel grateful to work for a well-established company with a healthy balance sheet.

Who or what makes you laugh?

Normally reciting my “book of low moments” and confessing the countless daft things I’ve done over the years.

Do you dread Monday mornings?

I’ve had enough Monday mornings in my career to learn that the best thing you can do is be well organised and ready for the week ahead.

Bag packed, shirts ironed, lunch ready, etc, etc. Once you’re in you soon forget it’s Monday, and you’re ready to crack on with the week ahead.

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

I’d be taller…