Mortgage strategy one to one: Stephen Wasserman

Your latest bridging index puts the market at about £3bn.  How much more can it grow and what factors could stunt/promote growth?

 Our bridging index places the current size of the market at just under £3bn, but it could well be even larger than that as a number of deals go under the radar and as a result are difficult to quantify. There is still plenty of potential for growth and we could well see the sector grow to between £8bn and £10bn over the next three to four years.

Bridging is now considered a more viable option for many property professionals and that improvement in perception is promoting growth.  The continuing relaxation of permitted development rules is driving growth as are changes to planning laws regarding buying a property with a view to achieving a change in use.  Rising house prices – according to the Your Move House Price index, annual house price growth sits at more than 5% at the moment – are also playing their part.

It’s impossible to predict exactly how the bridging sector will evolve, but what will be key is product diversification and lenders continuing to innovate and adapt to borrowers’ needs.

What affect will the Mortgage Credit Directive have on the bridging market?

I think we can look forward to an initial bedding-in period – it will be a similar process to the mainstream industry’s reaction to the Mortgage Market Review.  But in the long term it will only be good for the sector as it is bound to improve the reputation of the specialist finance industry in general.

Following the launch of your new investor platform, what plans do you have for West One over the next 12 months?

Sustainable growth.  Continued investment in and focus on technology to improve the customer experience and help aid communication between all the stakeholders in the bridging space.  We’ll also be growing headcount and investing further in our staff.

If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?

I’d take another couple of hours every day.  I’m getting into the office at 8am and finishing the day at 8pm.  Another couple of hours might give me a little more time to spend with Ethan, my baby son.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Surround yourself with good people.

Who is your all-time hero and why?

Despite being a lifelong Spurs fan, I’d say Sir Alex Ferguson.  He’s been hugely successful – the greatest football manager in history.   During his tenure Manchester United won 13 league titles along with 25 other trophies—giving him an overall haul nearly double that of the next-most-successful English club manager.  He did it by starting from the bottom up; by daring to rebuild his team; by setting high standards – and holding everyone to them; and by preparing his team to pull a rabbit out of a hat with ten minutes to go.  He observed the opposition meticulously and was prepared to adapt accordingly - – he was a phenomenal leader.

If you were not in your current role, what would you be doing?

I’d love to say I’d be exploring the world but the truth is I’d be a solicitor or an accountant.  Narrow escape.

Do you have any secret talents?

Yep – I am secretly a scratch golfer.  The 28 handicap is just a ruse for Stapleford purposes.  It’s a very good ruse as I don’t think I’ve broken 100 since 2013.  But that’s completely on purpose.  One day I will drop the act and unveil my genius on the links – until then I’m keeping it very well hidden.

Stephen Wasserman is Managing Director of West One Loans

This article initially appeared in Mortgage Strategy

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