"You generally get what you pay for and a number of funders will struggle at their present pricing points to remain sustainable and to offer the level of service required"
We spoke to Simon Lindley, chief development officer at Cambridge & Counties Bank, about how the commercial industry can tackle reduced activity volumes and the Bank's planned expansion in Scotland.
FR: What are Cambridge & Counties Bank’s main product areas and specialisms?
Cambridge & Counties Bank are specialist property lenders in commercial and residential term debt, refurbishment and bridging loans for experienced individual investors and sophisticated property companies. We also specialise in asset finance, funding business critical assets through hire purchase or lease hire. More recently, we have launched classic car finance, lending on classic, vintage, sports cars and modern classics through bespoke funding packages that consider individual requirements.
FR: Tell us about your intermediary proposition – what can you offer commercial brokers and what’s your USP?
90% of all business is derived from commercial finance brokers and the bank is a patron of the NACFB. We have a highly experienced front line team that will support brokers in structuring deals and ensuring exceptional service and delivery by providing a single point of contact throughout the life cycle of the loan. The front line team work extremely closely with colleagues in credit to deliver formal credit backed offers prior to valuation, providing comfort to both broker and client from the offset.
FR: What trends do you expect to see within the commercial market in 2019?
I believe that activity levels in the market have slowed through a combination of uncertainties around Brexit, Government stability and the general macro-economic outlook. I strongly believe that there remains a significant amount of pent up demand within the investor community who continue to hold large levels of cash reserves but at the same time remain committed long term to re-investing in the market and the many opportunities it offers.
FR: What are Cambridge & Counties’ main aims or focuses in 2019? Do you have any exciting news or plans you can tell us about?
At present given the reduced general activity volumes and an oversupply of funders, the bank is focusing its main efforts in 2019 on embedding its new classic car finance offering and in continuing to focus on improving our already market leading broker and customer journeys. In addition, we are likely to have a relationship manager in either Edinburgh or Glasgow by the end of the year, with relationship managers in both cities by the middle of next year and an office located somewhere between the two cities.
FR: What challenges face commercial brokers and lenders in the current financial landscape?
For lenders, it is remaining relevant to brokers and customers in an ever more crowded market and to not follow the general trend of reducing pricing to unsustainable levels to win volume. For brokers, it is ensuring that they continue to offer a range of options to their clients and not to just gravitate to funders because they are the cheapest. You generally get what you pay for and a number of funders will struggle at their present pricing points to remain sustainable and to offer the level of service required by customers. This is an area where brokers knowledge can add value as it only makes sense to take the cheapest deal if they can deliver on time and are still there in a couple of years’ time.
FR: If you could see one headline about financial services in 2019, what would it be?
'Brexit is finalised and normal market conditions have resumed'.