You publish a bi-monthly bridging index - why do you think it's important to the bridging sector that we keep track of the figures?
Without any regular statistics to give an idea of the size and trends within the bridging industry, it would be easy for those outside the short-term finance sector to dismiss it as an insignificant part of the overall market. It would also be difficult to know if the market was headed in the right direction and if individual lender results were part of a wider pattern. As it is, our index has been instrumental in publicising the progress the bridging market has made over the past few years and has helped improve perceptions of what was once a maligned corner of the industry. Given how successful and influential it has been, it’s not a surprise that other lenders are belatedly attempting to produce their own efforts.
Short-term lending has seen something of a surge in popularity recently; why do you think brokers are beginning to see the potential in STL?
In any walk of life there will always be those who are early adopters and interested in diversifying their businesses and those who are far more cautious and will only stick to what they know. There are pros and cons with both, but increasingly those who are fearful of change find that they are left behind, particular if their clients are demanding more sophisticated solutions to their problems. Brokers who are unable to recognise when short-term finance might be suitable for their client’s needs are likely to lose the business altogether. The continued growth in the market is down to improving standards and raised awareness of just how versatile and useful short-term finance can be in a variety of circumstances.
Do you think the bridging market is likely to become fully regulated? Why or why not?
I’ve always been a champion of regulation as anything that aids transparency and protects the consumer should be viewed as an opportunity rather than a threat. The current status quo works well in allowing some companies to be regulated if they wish, while recognising that some types of short-term finance aren’t suitable to be legislated in a one-size-fits-all manner. It certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to see the entire bridging market regulated eventually, but not being fully regulated won’t stop it being successful, as the buy-to-let market proves.
What's in store for West One this year?
We’ve already enjoyed a stellar start to the year, writing £80m of business in the first quarter of 2015, so are hoping for similarly impressive figures in Q2 and beyond. Last year was quite a seismic one for us what with the takeover by Enterprise Finance so while we’re hoping for a calmer year on the management front, we’re fully prepared for a busy year business-wise.
What is one thing brokers might not know about West One?
West One Loans is the largest privately funded bridging lender in the country, having arranged more than £600m of short-term finance to date.