Geoff Philpot: Bridging that does what it says on the tin

Geoff Philpot, director of national mortgage broker DMI Finance, headquartered in Chippenham, is always thinking about what’s best for his client. For him, that means dealing with a lender that “does what it says on the tin”.

Q: How long have you been doing bridging as a broker?

GP: I’ve been a mortgage broker for fifteen years. DMI Finance is a whole of market mortgage broker so we are fully regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Mostly, however, we focus on specialist property finance, commercial and bridging deals, auction finance and buy-to-let with around 5-10% of our business in the mainstream residential mortgage market.

Q: When did you start working with Fincorp?

GP: We only came across Fincorp a few years ago. The market was going through quite a lot of changes and some of the lenders we had dealt with for a long time were refocusing their businesses and changing the sorts of deals they wanted to do. We had known of Fincorp for a while and decided to try them for a client who had been let down by another lender. Dealing with them was very refreshing I have to say – their method of operation is simple and straight forward.

Q: Why did you choose to try them?

GP: Most brokers will tell you they have a core of lenders they work with in the bridging market. You get used to each other’s quirks and you know what to expect and how to work with each other so you get the deal done quickly for your client. But as a broker you’re always working to find the best deal for the client and it’s important to try other lenders to see what they have to offer I think. Fincorp doesn’t charge fees into the deal or out of the deal. So while they’re charging 1.5% a month actually when you compare that to a lender charging 2% on the way in, 1% a month and a month’s interest on the way out there’s a break even point, before which Fincorp is actually giving the client a better deal.

Q: What do you find best about working with them compared to other lenders?

GP: Fincorp is very straightforward and professional to deal with. A lot of bridging lenders are acting like high street banks more and more. They want accounts that go back three years, payslips, documents here, documents there and often they want all of that at the last minute before the deal completes. That’s very poor case administration in my view. Bridging is expensive but clients are prepared to pay the premium because they get speed and fewer hoops they have to jump through than with high street banks. If you’re making them jump through all the same hoops then it’s hard to justify the premium price I think. Fincorp does rigorous AML checks and still wants to see the requisite documentation but they ask for what they need up front and don’t surprise you with last minute requests. They’re much simpler to deal with than some lenders and you can speak directly to the directors which speeds things up considerably.

Q: What makes a lender good from a broker’s point of view?

GP: It comes back to knowing what you’re going to get from them. Clients don’t necessarily want the cheapest deal; they want the money if they’re told they’re going to get the money. Lenders backing out at the last minute are the biggest mess up you can have in bridging. You send in all the forms they ask for at the outset, get the valuation done, the client’s credit report, accounts, whatever it is they need and then the day it’s due to complete they start asking you questions they should have asked on day one. We want a lender that does what it says on the tin. That’s Fincorp. They’re simple and they do what they say they’re going to do. I’ve been impressed when dealing with them and to be honest I wish we’d dealt with them before.

Q: Why should other brokers try them if they feel they’ve got good relationships with other lenders in the market?

GP: It’s a good question. In some ways brokers will think, why try driving a BMW when you’re already driving a Mercedes? A lot of the bridging lenders in the market do offer the same sort of things but each has its own personality and they all do deals in a slightly different way. Fincorp has its niche – they stick to the knitting. They lend in London and southern England and do a lot of refurb finance but to be honest that’s where a lot of this sort of business is done anyway. We’ve also just done a deal with their partner Martyn Smith at Bath & West so there are opportunities to do deals a bit further afield. I think there’s also a perception that bridging is all about the rate and Fincorp is charging 1.5% a month. But you have to find the most appropriate product for your client and that does not always come down to rate in the short-term market. Fincorp doesn’t charge fees and that can make a huge difference to the cost of the loan. There’s also the speed they get things done. Most clients use bridging because it’s fast, not because it’s cheap – it isn’t. Fincorp is one of the faster lenders and there are no nasty surprises for clients at the last minute. We work for the client – that’s our most important consideration. We want to work with lenders who don’t let us or them down. And Fincorp doesn’t.