Given my involvement in both specialist distribution and the Association of Short Term Lenders, I was perhaps an obvious candidate to comment on the role of packagers in the bridging market – if only to see how I’d approach it!

To begin with, I would suggest that what is good for the growth and development of the bridging market is also good for packagers as short term lending is rapidly becoming an important element of the specialist lending sector.

Short term lending has evolved rapidly to become extremely competitive driving both product innovation and keener pricing. These two elements have combined to make bridging a more user friendly and attractive product to a wider range of customers. Packagers therefore have a real opportunity to increase market share and to reach a wider audience. A key component to achieving this will be through extending their distribution through a wider range of brokers. This will require deeper engagement with brokers who have not traditionally advised on bridging and through working more closely with networks, and their preferred packager partners. So, it is important for packagers to drive more conversations and provide training on the benefits of short term lending. 

To support this, it is vitally important that lenders and packagers work together. As a lender association, ASTL has a role to play in laying the foundations that facilitate greater growth in this market sector. The ASTL Code of Conduct has been a key tenet of the Association since its beginnings in 2008 and prescribes expected lender standards for transparency, ethics and professionalism. 

In lieu of full market regulation, the ASTL Code of Conduct sets the tone, initially for the lending sector and helps demonstrate to brokers, who may be less frequently involved in bridging, that it is a market in which they should feel comfortable providing advice and with which they will want to be associated.

I would suggest that ASTL membership is something that all brokers should look for when choosing a lender and this is a message that we should look to communicate through packagers and networks, as well as direct to broker. Ultimately, increased understanding and trust will lead to the growth of the market, and that will benefit everyone. 

Vic Jannels, CEO of the ASTL
A version of this article appeared in the January comment box of Mortgage Introducer