In April, the international professional services firm, EY published its annual report into the UK bridging market. The research for the report was carried out earlier in the year, before the scale of the COVID-19 crisis was fully realised and, while this has dated some of the results, there are many elements that remain true in the current environment and are likely to continue to do so as we emerge from this pandemic.

One, particularly interesting section of the report, that I would like to focus on, looked at the key customer considerations in choosing a bridging lender. According to the research, 58% of respondents cited “speed of execution” as very important for a customer when choosing a bridging lender, which is consistent with the results of the previous year’s survey.

A further 46% of respondents cited “high quality service from the lender” as a very important consideration, which was up from 37% the previous year, and 23% of respondents chose “funding flexibility” as the most important capability when choosing a bridging lender.

Other key customer considerations included certainty of funds, the ability to deliver and being able to follow through on promises, which suggests that according to the research, customers may in some cases value certainty of funding, speed and quality service over “low pricing.”

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this piece of research, however, was that over half of the respondents cited “reputation of the lender” as a very important or important consideration. This was particularly true for brokers that transact less than £100m in bridging business each year, which all in probability, will relate to most brokers.

This would indicate that, for bridging lenders, an investment in reputation is not simply a matter of good business ethics or ideals, but an important commercial decision. As I mentioned, this research was conducted at the beginning of the year when the market was firing on all cylinders. And I would argue that, having lived through this period of intense uncertainty, during which many lenders are doing a tremendous job to support brokers, reputation is going to become an even more important factor for brokers when they choose a lender with whom to work.

With this in mind, membership of respected associations, like the ASTL, which require adherence to a strict set of professional standards, must surely be considered as a ‘must-have’ for lenders that are serious about growing their business, rather than a ‘nice-to-have’.

Similarly, for brokers who are choosing the best lender to provide a solution for their clients, trade association membership provides a short-hand way to verify reputation.

Reputation will be considered paramount both lenders and brokers as we emerge from this pandemic and must become a key commercial consideration for all businesses as we move forward together.

Vic Jannels, CEO of the ASTL
A version of this article appeared in the April online edition of Specialist Lending Solutions