Jo Breeden

A bridge to certainty in uncertain times

As I write this piece, we have a general election looming.

Just a few weeks ago we all thought that the uncertainty in the financial markets, caused largely by Brexit, could not be thrown into greater turmoil.

That said, calling an election was the only option left for a dysfunctional government. Without nailing my colours to the mast, we have to hope that there will finally be a definitive majority, or a working coalition, created by the electorate that can provide stability for everyone and allow us, once again, to plan for the future on solid foundations.

The current outlook does not bode well, so let’s look at a few of the latest reports. After which, I promise to inject some seasonal cheer!

Despite some banks stating that they would be offer more lending, the Bank of England’s credit conditions survey released in October stated that they were planning to offer fewer loans to businesses in the next few months. 

The BoE found that the overall availability of credit to the corporate sector was reported to have remained unchanged in Q3, and this was the case for small, medium and large businesses. The overall availability of credit to the corporate sector was expected to decrease in Q4.

Consumer confidence

Alongside this consumer confidence is weakening due to concerns about job security and continuing uncertainty about Brexit. The latest consumer tracker by accountancy firm Deloitte suggested that confidence had fallen back to levels last seen at the end of 2018.

The downturn in confidence comes after a survey of finance directors, also by Deloitte, recently found that the majority of businesses were preparing to cut costs and reduce hiring.

But, as with every crisis, smart financial people and businesses know where there is opportunity. Once again bridging comes to the fore.

Reasons to be cheerful

It’s been almost three-and-a-half years since the EU referendum and people still want to move or improve their existing home, and property investors still want to add to portfolios or improve stock to make it more marketable either for sale or rent.

We are seeing a rise in re-bridges too, which provide new bridging facilities to replace existing loans that have gone over or are approaching the end of their term. Facilities can be arranged to replace existing facilities with a cheaper alternative to extend a loan term and, if needed, to release more funds.

We are also seeing more applications for adverse credit, chain break, multiple incomes, zero-hours contracts, rental and both refurb and heavy refurb. So the demand is there, but we can always do more.

Seasonal cheer

I promised I’d end on a positive note, and here we are…

In uncertain times, people want certainty, and bridging can provide that short-term solution. It’s clear that now, maybe more than ever, bridging finance must be a key part of the finance options that all brokers can comfortably provide to customers.

It is up to everyone in the sector — lenders, brokers, distributors and eventually regulators and trade bodies — to build the profile of this core finance option because it is a key solutions provider.

So, I urge you all now to raise a glass to bridging finance and sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’. 

This year continued to see positive and controlled acceptance for the sector, and by working together throughout 2020, and overcoming whatever obstacles lay ahead, we will see even greater opportunities.

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