Page 67 - Bridging & Commercial Magazine Issue 5
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 experience with this lender,’ or ‘This lender has taken a fee from my client and now \[refuses\] to refund it, even though it’s them that are walking away from the transaction and not the borrower’? I feel like I ought to put that out there and I do, informally, to perhaps brokers that I’m close to, people like Liz...But I’m nervous about putting information like that out into the public domain; I don’t want to be seen as telling tales outside of school. It’s quite current, actually; I’ve got this sort of dilemma going on: how much do I put out in the public domain? I don’t want lenders to think, ‘If I put a step wrong with Chris Whitney, he’s going to have it plastered all over LinkedIn.’ LS: You don’t necessarily have to name the lender to get an educational piece out there by advising brokers on things to watch out for based on that experience that you’ve had. You can actually say, ‘I had this experience with a lender who will remain unnamed. If I had to do it all over again, I would ask this question \[or do\] this.’ You can get the educational bit of it out there. C W: Yeah, I have tr ied that approac h, but that leads to responses \[like\], ‘Who is it? Name and shame!’ Should we name and shame? LS: Depends on the relationship you want to keep or not, doesn’t it? (laughter) CS: And should you be keeping a relationship with someone who you’re one step away from naming on LinkedIn? LS: Look, every broker, every lender, every solicitor—they all make mistakes. None of us are perfect. But I think if it’s a continual thing then, yes, name and shame and don’t deal with them again. CS: But are there other ways of us doing this than on LinkedIn, which is coming up a lot recently. Then there is a lot of anecdotal chat about things–how helpful is that? So, to your point, Chris, is that the way one should be going about it? Are there other ways to raise standards that don’t involve LinkedIn? There must be something else that we can do. CW: If you go back perhaps three years ago, there was a lot of focus on trade bodies. The ASTL \[Association of Short Term Lenders\] was having quite big conferences, was quite a big name... But interest in trade bodies seems to have waned recently. I don’t really know why—I think it should be going in the opposite direction, if anything. I think we should have more dealings with trade bodies, and not necessarily trade bodies, but \[one\] trade body for the industry. LS: As you probably know, I sit on the board with FIBA \[Financial Intermediary & Broker Association\] and it comes up a lot, \[topics such as\] whether there should be some form of qualification in the bridging market, for example. How do we get more education out there, more knowledge? What is the best structure? Because what you do find is a lot of the time the people that you see at events are the same people at the next event run by somebody else, and \[so on\]. There’s a whole market of people that we’re maybe not reaching and getting some detailed knowledge and understanding to who could maybe do a great job in this market if they have the tools to do so. But I think webinars and things like that are becoming more and more popular ... giving people the choice \[regarding\] how they learn to help raise those standards. Because it’s the knowledge that raises the standards as much as anything. CW: I think there’s enough of us in this industry now where we should try to push for some sort of voluntary self-regulation. ST: What would this look like? CW: If you go back to the FCA thing, it’s treating customers fairly—that’s what it comes down to. LS: It’s that disclosure at the beginning about what you’re earning, what you’ve researched \[and\] why you’ve recommended that particular product. CW: We recently had a lender who took an application fee at a stage where they weren’t actually internally ready to, decided not to proceed and are now trying to keep that application fee. Now, obviously, you know we’re doing something about that. It would be nice if they were part of a trade body and we were part of a trade body \[and\] we could actually go to that body and say, ‘We suspect there’s been some dishonest behaviour here. We would like to report it and we would like it to be investigated.’ But we don’t really have that at the moment. LS: I think lenders do have to be part of this journey. CS: At this point, who controls the market? I know it’s a pretty pointed question, but in this utopian sort of situation—where brokers band together, creating a set of self-regulatory principles—that would have to rely on all lenders buying into it. Otherwise, you’re going to create an underground market where you’re going to have lenders still doing business with those who don’t necessarily do the right thing. Do you think that the forces are strong enough in the broker world to drag the lenders kicking and screaming into this? LS: The bigger lenders, those A- and B-tier lenders, will happily do it. It’s the C-tier lenders that \[are\] just trying to get business from wherever they can get \[it\]. CW: The lenders, in isolation, could do it and say, ‘We’re just not accepting your business unless you’re part of this.’ Also, brokers could do it by \[giving\] the bulk of their business to lenders who are part of this organisation. But it makes total sense for both sides to do it—we’re just two different sides of the same \[coin\]. We can’t have one without the other. Interview    65  Sept/Oct 2019 

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