‘We are very traditional in that we go out and shake the hands – or nowadays bump the fist – of our borrowers’
By David Craik -
Marketplace lender Assetz Capital is joining the Bridging Loan Directory to ensure its ‘Fairer Growth for All’ philosophy reaches more property developers, brokers and investors around the UK.
The Manchester based group, which provides commercial mortgages, SME secured, development finance, bridging and residential refurbishment products, has lent out £1.3billion since its launch in 2013. It claims to have funded the building of around 1 in every 100 new build homes in the UK in the last two years.
The funds have come from its growing pool of 33,000 retail investors on its peer-to-peer lending platform as well as institutional investors.
It was also approved for accreditation as a lender under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) by British Business Bank in 2020, the Government backed loan scheme to help the economy through Covid-19.
It has issued CIBLS totalling £370million to UK SMEs delivering property-secured commercial mortgages and development loans.
“We have a strong social conscience in terms of trying to do the right thing for our borrowers and investors and ensuring fairer growth for all,” says Mark Standley, national commercial director.
“We take massive care in trying to ensure that our lending decisions are right, so the borrower receives the optimum funding solution to carry out their development whilst our investors benefit from property secured interest from the loan.”
Despite being a FinTech, Assetz places a huge emphasis on personal relationships when it comes to doing deals.
“We are very traditional in that we go out and shake the hands – or nowadays bump the fist – of our borrowers,” says Standley. “We want to see them face to face and visit their development sites. It helps us to better understand their needs and start building relationships.”
Assetz calls it real world lending.
“With UK wide coverage our relationship directors can add local knowledge to finding solutions to our clients real-world finance needs such as purchasing, exiting or conversion,” Standley explains.
“There is no ‘computer says no’ here. We try to rationalise, use our experience and judgement to deliver the most appropriate outcome. If there isn’t one, then we will build it.”
For the last 18 months that ‘real world’ has meant dealing with the Covid 19 crisis. As part of helping clients tackle the challenges and opportunities it has led to a re-evaluation of its product offering particularly bridging.
“Pre-pandemic property development made up more than half of all our lending followed by commercial mortgages for owner occupied and tenanted buildings,” explains Standley.
“We will continue to value and grow this part of our business as we are very good at it, but we are also investing in building up our bridging business.
We see this as an area of potential strong growth, and we want to start shouting about it a lot more. We have great relationships with brokers who know us for development lending and managing complexity, and we are building on that strong foundation as we grow our recognition and share of the bridging market.”
In April it unveiled a new bridging product with a 0.65 per cent interest rate on loans between £150,000 and £5million. Loan to value is 75%.
“It will lead to more volume business and the need for ongoing process evolution fundamental to ensure timely bridging completions.
We can really get a shift on doing development deals in as little as three weeks from hello to drawdown, very much hands on and making it happen.
Whereas for bridging we have developed a different underwriting function and process built around a specialist team to remove potential friction points,” Standley says. “Our core lending fundamentals, however, will not change.”
It sees opportunities in sectors other bridging lenders are shying away from as a result of the pandemic.
“We are not scared of lending into sectors such as hospitality and care where we have the specialist knowledge to identify supportable businesses,” he explains.
“The market is somewhat saturated with the majority of lenders looking for vanilla residential deals. We are in that mix too, but we will look at sectors which may have struggled through Covid.
Change brings challenge and opportunity in equal measure, and we will see firms with the drive and potential to succeed in all sectors that will need bridging to help them grow.”
Aside from broker and client demand as the property market continues to boom and businesses recover and reshape post-pandemic, Assetz also sees more retail investors turning to alternative investments such as peer-to-peer.
“We now have a broader, sharper proposition which values the existing customers and intermediary network whilst extending our competitive reach.
We now have the ability to provide attractively priced loans up to £5m for bridging and £10m for development and commercial mortgages,” says Standley.
“We are a single point, total solution for non-regulated property secured lending. We will accelerate our strong growth going forward but always in a controlled and measured way.”
Assetz says joining the Bridging Loan Directory will help in that aim.
“It is a recognised industry source and will boost our market exposure,” Standley says.
“We want to talk about our services and our differentiation much more than before. We want to be the very best we can be in all our disciplines and always strive to do what we say we will do.
We are a great business, with nice people who work hard to provide the best possible service experience for borrowers and other stakeholders.
We are standing strong and looking forward to the future.”
David Craik is a freelance journalist writing news, feature articles, blogs and guides for national newspapers and magazines. His main areas of interest include finance, property and investments.