Meet the experts: Duncan Abraham and Ben Wilson discuss Regulated Bridging

First of all, can you tell us about your roles?

Duncan Abraham:

“I’m Duncan and I’m Head of Residential Underwriting at Together.

“We’ve been lending in the specialist finance sector for nearly 50 years and I’ve been here for half of that time – that’s a great many years’ experience overseeing a range of cases and working alongside our network of packagers!

“Now, I lead an excellent team of specialist underwriters (many of whom have received industry accolades for their service) who are dedicated to personal finance and regulated bridging cases.”

Ben Wilson:

“My name is Ben and I’m one of the Senior Residential Underwriters in our team. I’ve been at Together for over seven years and day-to-day I support our packagers with their regulated cases, including bridging applications for broken property chains, auction purchases or clients who are downsizing.

“Every case we see is unique so we make underwriting decisions using our common sense, looking at our applicants’ individual merits. I’ll work closely with our packagers to make sure we’re receiving everything we need to underwrite an application, and where there are gaps, provide feedback to those partners so the next pack can be reviewed without any delays.”


Can you tell us about Together’s proposition for Regulated Bridging?

Duncan:

“We’ve been providing short-term finance to customers with a variety of needs and complex circumstances for nearly 50 years, and we’re constantly listening to feedback from our packagers to ensure our service and product offer is always improving.

Ben:

“We know the most important thing when it comes to regulated bridging applications is speed of service, and we’re always flexible when it comes to difficult cases and delivering in tight timescales. We ensure our service is carried out professionally from start to finish and often step in when other lenders pull out late in the process to guarantee our customers can meet their deadlines. This is due to our relationships with specialist packagers, the accessibility of our expert team, and our network of trusted valuers and solicitors.

“Another great part of our service is offering free legals when customers are looking to secure their bridging loan on an existing property – which could save them time and a good sum of money.

“We’ve also made some improvements to our use of Automated Valuation Models, and now more than 70% of our residential applications progress using an online valuation. This has really reduced unnecessary delays for our partner’s customers, and allows us to keep their application journey as smooth and as efficient as possible.”


Can you talk to us about Together’s flexibility?

Duncan:

“We'll look at a wide variety of bridging loan cases – including many that some others won’t – such as those involving ex-council properties and those in high-rise blocks, as well as those of non-standard construction.

“We’ll also look at clients with imperfect credit, or where the applicant has little UK address history.”

Ben:

“In addition to our wide range of criteria, we’re also flexible on the customer scenarios we can cater for.

“Following the pandemic, we focused on supporting the huge demand for fast property purchases to help our partner’s customers beat the Stamp Duty holiday deadline, and concentrated our business on sale to exit cases. So some of our partners might not be aware that we support a wide range of uses for bridging loans and a variety of exit strategies – including refinance options.

“Our proposition is also ideal for those buying at auction, and almost a third of our Auction Finance business comes from personal finance cases. Property auctions are becoming far more mainstream– particularly as they are now easily accessible online – and we can support those needing to complete within the typical 28-day deadline.

“If packagers aren’t sure whether or not we can support a customer, they can simply pick up the phone and have a conversation either with the underwriting team or their BDMs – we can often find a way to make things work and we can let them know very quickly either way.”


Can you tell us more about the support network in place for packagers?

Duncan:

“We’ve recently restructured our Intermediary Sales team to create a dedicated support function for our residential applications.

“Packagers may have seen we promoted James Briggs to ‘Head of Intermediary Sales for Personal Finance’, and he leads a team of three specialist account managers working across the regions of mainland UK.

“This means our partners can easily get in touch with the right people who have strong knowledge of our criteria and can provide examples of real cases we've been able to fund.”

Ben:

“Our packagers can also talk to me or anyone else in the residential underwriting team, and we can provide direct, in-depth feedback on cases and how to progress them quickly; if we're unable to approve the application immediately, it’s very common for us to speak to brokers and obtain more detailed explanations to unlock the problem.”


Can you talk us through the process of registering a regulated bridging case?

“We have an easy-to-use online system called My Broker Venue (MBV) for packagers to use when registering a case with us.

“MBV has been tailored to suit our Regulated Bridging product so there is no need to input any unnecessary information that isn’t required for us to underwrite the application (e.g. income and affordability).

“Once the information has been added onto My Broker Venue, they can complete the “Checklist” tab. This will identify a list of documents that should be provided as part of the ideal pack which they can collect from their customer.

“Once everything that needs to be included is there, that’s when we’ll start to work on the case and confirm a decision quickly. And while the case is being underwritten, they’ll have a direct line to an assigned underwriter to chat through documents and other supporting evidence in real-time.”


Can you give us an example of a recent case study?

Ben:

“A few months ago we supported a recently widowed client who had her heart set on a new home nearer family. She experienced eleventh-hour delays on her own property sale, meaning she had just eight days to find another source of funds or her purchase would fall through.

“Her quick-thinking broker referred the case to Loan.co.uk, an approved packager, knowing it would be the best chance of saving the day. Here’s a quote Bridging Loan Adviser Andrew Ramsay about the case.”

Andrew Ramsay, Loan.co.uk:

“Time was against us, and it wasn’t the most straightforward of cases as we noticed the client’s existing property was not held in personal names but actually in a trust. However, we were able to expedite things. Together was the best lender for the situation and it was hugely advantageous that they could accept an automated valuation.

“They tend to be easy to deal with and no-nonsense, so we got all the paperwork to the client’s solicitor in three days. Working with the solicitor and the underwriter, we also managed to transfer the property from the trust into the client’s name at the same time as registering the charge for Together. Everything was in place and the drawdown completed on the fifth day.

“The broker and client were delighted, and it was highly satisfying to be able to save the deal.”


For professional intermediary use only.

Lending decisions are subject to an affordability/creditworthiness assessment.

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