Lender highlights what advisers are seeking
The biggest frustration for brokers is lenders ‘moving the goalposts’ and taking a long time to complete deals, a mortgage executive suggests.
Chris Jones (pictured), managing director of commercial finance lender JMT Finance, highlighted the exasperation felt by advisers over quoted rates changing before an application can be processed.
Based in Otley, West Yorkshire, JMT is an unregulated lender, offering up to 80% LTV commercial mortgage products, and short term bridging finance.
Jones has played a leading role in establishing the business, since its launch in 2019 – first as its head of legal, and, since 2021, as MD. JMT endeavours to operate differently to other lenders, he points out.
“Speaking with our introducers, their biggest frustration at the moment seems to be dealing with lenders who keep moving the goalposts and drawing-out timescales,” Jones explained to Mortgage Introducer.
“In some cases, the rate quoted is fluctuating before applications can be processed, and deals are taking a long time to finalise. This can be incredibly frustrating for brokers and their clients who are seeking certainty and consistency, which is crucial in the commercial field.”
He continued: “That is why we strive to operate differently. When we approve an application, the broker and borrower can have full confidence that we will honour that deal.
“Our priority is to always try and make the process as seamless as possible for the brokers and borrowers we work with, something we achieve through reliability. When we offer terms on a proposal, we stand by them. We do not retract offers or change rates mid-transaction.
“We are proud of our personalised approach to lending, which is why we make it a point to meet every potential borrower in person. This allows us to truly understand their business, goals, and aspirations and assess each case on its individual strengths.”
How to look at adversity positively
While acknowledging the challenges being faced by the industry, Jones believes there is scope for fresh business.
“There are plenty of reasons to describe the current market as difficult, but with adversity also comes opportunity,” he reasoned. “For instance, based on feedback from our broker partners, last year we launched into bridging finance after introducers told us there were limited options for commercial borrowers looking for loans around £150,000 or less.”
Jones considers JMT’s privately owned funding structure ‘a natural fit’ for bridging finance, enabling it to make quick decisions without being constrained by lending covenants. He is optimistic too that the economy may see a boost.
“Hopefully, this year we will see the Bank of England reduce the base rate,” he suggested. “However, more importantly than that, we need to see a decrease in the cost-of-living before it begins to significantly affect businesses, particularly those in the hospitality sector.
“For the economy to grow and prosper, consumers need to have disposable income to spend, whether this be in restaurants or retail stores and this is a challenge many businesses are currently facing.”
Jones is sympathetic to the task of those seeking to stabilise the UK economy.
“I certainly don’t envy the job of a politician; sometimes there are no easy answers,” he considered. “There are always two sides to every coin, and cutting costs in one area could have adverse effects elsewhere.
“If we learned anything from Liz Truss’s tenure as Prime Minister, it’s that large, rash decisions that trigger radical change can backfire and be far less effective than a prolonged period of stability and certainty.”
Why personal interaction in business can be rewarding
Clearly a people person, Jones values the personal interaction his role offers him.
“The most rewarding aspect of my job is undoubtedly the people I work with and meet,” he shared. “No two deals are alike, and because we meet every potential client in person, we often meet with a diverse range of people from all corners of the UK. This could involve travelling to the most northerly part of Scotland, to meet a borrower, or assisting a first-time landlord in Newark.
“When a deal comes together and you see the impact it has on borrowers, it’s extremely rewarding. When returning to visit a client and seeing their business thrive, knowing you played a part in it, is great.”
He added: “Our focus is firmly set on building long-term relationships with our clients, which is also extended to the brokers and lawyers we collaborate with. Our approach revolves around finding solutions rather than dwelling on problems.
“I often liken our company to having the qualities of a traditional bank manager, while embracing a forward-thinking approach to lending decisions. Our funding structure also allows us to provide customised solutions that set us apart.
“During my time within the business, we have forged close working relationships with a number of introducers and legal advisers, and funded some exciting and unique projects.”
Jones has an empathetic perspective on business.
“I always try to give everybody the benefit of the doubt and treat everyone the same way I would like to be treated,” he summed up. “You never know when you might face the same struggles someone else is facing now, so try to be sympathetic and supportive. I strive to show empathy, find the best in people, and refrain from being too quick to judge.”