Bridging qualification

Jupp 'staggered' by lack of progress on bridging qualification

The possibility of a specific professional qualification becoming a necessary requirement for those working within the bridging finance industry has received a mixed reaction.

A recent roundtable hosted by the Financial Intermediary & Broker Association (FIBA) and the Association of Short Term Lenders (ASTL) discussed whether such a qualification would improve standards.

At the event, the room was unsure as to what would be the best way to implement this and how much it would actually improve standards within the market.

Since then, Bridging & Commercial spoke to the wider industry to find out their views.

Is a qualification for bridging finance needed?

Rob Jupp, CEO at Brightstar and former chairman of the Association of Bridging Professionals (AOBP), was overwhelmingly in favour of an exam.

“When I was chairman of the AOBP, I worked hard with my executive committee to get broad party consensus to do this.

“I am staggered that three years after I stepped down we [as an industry] are no further forward, even though the short-term lending market has grown exponentially.”

However, Jonathan Sealey, CEO at Hope Capital, questioned whether a separate bridging finance qualification was needed.

“Bridging is a much more mainstream product than it was 10 years ago, and to reflect that, I think it would make more sense to introduce bridging finance as part of the CeMAP qualification.

“If all brokers were to learn about bridging finance in their journey to becoming an authorised mortgage adviser, understanding of bridging would improve across the board.”

Lucy Barrett, managing director at Vantage Finance, agreed, adding: “We don’t believe a separate exam or qualification is needed for the sector, but there is certainly scope to improve module 2 of CeMAP qualification to have greater focus on bridging and alternative finance as a whole.”

Would a possible qualification improve standards?

Stephen Burns at Adapt Finance felt that there was a difference between standards and ability.

“Ability can’t be judged by one single exam, especially in an ever-changing market.

“However, I’d agree with minimum competency levels, albeit unsure how it would be introduced, managed and by whom.”

Liz Syms, CEO at Connect for Intermediaries, believed that education was important, but felt brokers couldn’t be experts in every area of finance.

“More awareness and a better understanding of more specialist areas – like bridging – and when it might be appropriate for a client is definitely needed.

“But rather than becoming qualified in each niche area themselves, it makes more sense for brokers to have the ability to refer or use a packager who can help them find the right lending solution for their clients.”

Chris Oatway at LDNfinance added: “It is clearly evident that there is a huge disparity across the industry in terms of the standard of the individuals and the advice given, perhaps the introduction of a universal qualification could serve to even this out.”

Vishal Dixit, head of business development at Pivot, said it was pro everything that sharpened skills and boosted knowledge.

“This will in turn bolster credence and integrity in our industry and ultimately will ensure that the borrower is better served.”

Jack Coombs, director at Aspen Bridging, added: “Offering an educational standard across the industry could only be a positive.

“Most brokers are always looking to develop their ability to meet clients’ needs so I would imagine this would be taken up by many.”

Would lenders turn down business from ‘unqualified’ brokers?

“I don’t think that we would see lenders stop brokers who chose not to participate, but it would be nice if they could incentivise those that do with perhaps enhanced products or procuration fees,” said Chris Whitney, head of specialist lending at Enness.

“I think we are a very long way off such a requirement to be compulsory.”

Oatway added: “Unless there was pressure from regulatory authorities for lenders to only work with ‘qualified brokers’, I do not envisage any lender turning business away.

“However, they could see this as an opportunity to pay proc fees for those brokers with different levels of qualifications.”

Damien Druce, director and head of intermediary sales at Assetz Capital, felt it was down to the decision of each respective lender.

“One option could be that lenders decide to restrict more complex bridging transactions to those with such a qualification, on the basis that the ‘qualified individual’s’ level of knowledge is far more superior, which in turn gives the lender more confidence and greater certainty of outcome in a transaction.”

Keith Aldridge, managing director at Amicus Property Finance, added: “Answering the question, would we turn down business from an ‘unqualified broker’, the answer is [in] the packaging of the case; based on an intrinsic understanding of the client’s requirements and with all the details to support [a] viable exit are as important – if not more so – than a paper qualification.”

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