To celebrate International Women's Day and on the back of a record month delivered by our bridging team, we are kicking off our Meet the Team Series with Francesca Kindrat, Head of Bridging Operations at West One.
Fran leads West One’s bridging operations and has worked her way up through the team to get to the role she holds today. The team's recent record-breaking month of lending has inspired us to introduce you to the faces behind the success and some of the team who make business happen!
How long have you been in the industry, and how long have you been at West One?
I have worked for West One since 2011, when I started as a trainee Underwriter. (had a break in the middle for extended maternity leave) I quickly progressed through underwriting and onto leading a team.
Describe your role at West One.
In my current role as Head of Bridging Operations, I am responsible for the management and operational performance of the Bridging Lending team. This requires leading the team to create and foster a high performing culture, delivering a high-quality service experience that treats customers fairly.
I drive to establish and maintain strong relationships with third party suppliers and broker partners and ensure the team adhere to SLAs and KPIs whilst pushing cases through to completion.
I also review and approve new lending applications across all products lines in accordance with approved mandate level.
How has the bridging industry changed in the last five years?
I believe that previously people saw bridging as a last resort when there were no other options available, and bridging lenders may have been seen as more sub-prime lending.
Now I think people have a better view of the purpose for bridging, and most of our borrowers are experienced property professionals who are taking advantage of the speed of bridging to complete on deals they may not have previously been able to with the time constraints of high street lenders.
What will be the greatest challenge facing the bridging finance industry in the coming months?
One of the most significant challenges for anyone in the regulated bridging market will be the end of the furlough scheme. I believe this could have an impact on all kinds of lending, but regulated lending will be impacted the most.
Once the scheme has ended, we will see the true impact and lenders in the regulated market will see an increase in borrowers not being able to meet refinancing requirements with high street lenders and exits failing.
On the flip side, where the exit is sale, purchasers may find it harder to get mortgages approved. Additionally, If the stamp duty holiday isn’t extended in the budget announcement, we will have to see what impact this is going to have on the housing market, which will in turn impact the bridging industry.
First thing you’ll do once we are out of lockdown?
Probably the same for most people now - Travel! I normally manage to get away every few months, so it has been hard having to cancel holidays, especially ones to celebrate big milestones like family members birthdays. On the plus side it has been great working in an industry and company that has shown resilience through such challenging times.
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