Dan Murray

An interview with Dan Murray: The market needs to get back to 'what bridging and short-term lending is all about'

In an interview with Bridging & Commercial, Dan Murray, head of sales at Octopus Real Estate (pictured above), discusses the growing concerns in the specialist lending sector and the attractiveness of the buoyant regional market.

Since the recent opening of the Manchester office, has Octopus Real Estate witnessed a noticeable change in business?

Following the launch of our office in Manchester, we have seen an increase in the number of enquiries from the North and the regions, and the office has already completed its first deal. From smaller loan amounts through to larger commercial deals, the physical office presence has given us a solid start.

While we have always lent in the North and have always had external business development managers covering the regions outside of London, now we really feel like we are supporting our network of brokers.

Do you feel enough specialist lenders have a big enough focus on other areas of the UK outside of London?

Most specialist lenders do lend countrywide as they are attracted by the buoyant regional market. They would like to have a bigger presence, but we are able to do this as we are part of something bigger at Octopus. We are part of a group of entrepreneurially minded businesses with over £8.3bn of funds under management. We have the support that enables us to back our broker network across the country and can have a physical office presence where others can’t.

There is an opportunity in the North and we are serious about becoming the leading non-bank lender supporting brokers and borrowers outside of London.

As head of sales, what area of specialist property lending do you see offering the most opportunity?

As we look towards 2020, we are looking to continue to lend where others won’t.

Our office in Manchester is still young and we see the North as a growth opportunity, and we would like to cement our relationships in the North. We also see opportunity in the ‘golden postcodes’ and equivalents in other cities.

What do you feel is the greatest growing concern in the specialist lending space?

The specialist lending market has been spoilt with business over the past few years and, as a result, I think the service proposition has suffered. The specialist lending industry is an alternative to banks and, as such, should provide better service than the banks. Some have said that the market has become slower, and collectively we need to get back to what bridging and short-term lending is all about: flexibility, transparency and a shorter transaction time. 

How did you get into the industry?

I have always worked in financial services, but in several different roles. I started my career as an underwriter at Barclays and then moved on to work for a mortgage packager.

It was in my role working in mortgages that I saw how rewarding and fun the broker market was, so I did my CeMAP qualification to become a mortgage broker. The day after I started as a broker the market crashed and I never wrote any business!

I took a job as a CRM at an investment company before starting at Octopus Real Estate. It’s fair to say I have worked my way up the ladder at Octopus. I have been an internal business development manager, an external business development manager, head of London sales and now, my current role, head of sales. 

If you didn’t work in finance, what would you be doing?

In all honesty, I would still be emotionally getting over the recent defeat in the Rugby World Cup final and focusing on training and leading the team on the Lions tour of South Africa in 2021!

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