At this time of year, it is traditional to look forward to the coming 12 months and set out some ideas and expectations for the market during that time. Having taken on my new role at the ASTL on 1 January 2020, I’m going to go a little further, and talk about my thoughts for the future of this great association.

Firstly though, it is important for me to highlight and recognise the fantastic legacy which my predecessor, Benson Hersch, has left following his years in the hot seat at ASTL. When he first took the role in 2012, annual bridging completions were at £885m, and today they total more than £4bn. What’s more, the latest sentiment survey from members of the ASTL shows that nearly three-quarters (72%) of bridging lenders expect their business to grow in the coming months and more than half of lenders expect the market to grow.

This survey was conducted in advance of the General Election and now that we have a majority Government we should expect them to deliver added confidence to the property market, so perhaps it’s fair to predict that lenders may be looking forward even more positively than these figures suggest.

There will undoubtedly be challenges ahead, but we have a competitive and well-respected market, which has a real opportunity to increase its reach to more customers and extend its distribution through more brokers. This means engaging with brokers who have not traditionally advised on bridging and working closely with networks and packagers to initiate more conversations about short term lending.

So, how do we do this and what role can the ASTL play?
I have some ideas, but I don’t have all the answers and so my first weeks as CEO have been filled with conversations with our members and other businesses within our industry to identify a way of moving forward that provides everybody with an opportunity to contribute and create added value for all those involved.

A trade association can only be successful if it delivers a positive difference to businesses and my role will be to ensure we are delivering this for every one of our members and associate members. I’m also keen to grow the membership and hope people will feel comfortable contacting me to discuss the benefits.

A truly great strength of the ASTL is the rigorous process we go through before accepting members, which means that membership is very much a kitemark of quality. We plan to do more to promote this kitemark within our industry and beyond to demonstrate our commitment to high standards and instill greater confidence amongst brokers, customers and regulatory authorities.

It's fair to say that the UK is still at somewhat of a crossroads and so too is the bridging sector. It has a huge opportunity to grow and prosper in the future. My role and the role of the ASTL will be to help deliver on this opportunity in a way that is sustainable, responsible and of benefit to everyone involved.

Vic Jannels, CEO of the ASTL

A version of this article appeared in the January digital edition of Business Moneyfacts