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Who’s judging who? The British Specialist Lending Awards

  • 27/04/2017
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With less than a month to go before the first British Specialist Lending Awards, we invite you to meet our judges in the second installment of our awards special.

The awards takes place on 25 May at Park Plaza Riverbank in London.



head shot of Tony Salentino TSLETony Salentino, director, Complete FS

Judging category: Underwriter

Tony became a director and shareholder of Complete FS in Sept 1993, eventually taking full control of the business in Oct 2008 until he was joined by fellow director Phil Jay in Feb 2010.

“Having been in the packaging industry for 24 years it’s a pleasure to be asked to join such an illustrious panel of experts and innovators all of whom have made a significant contribution to the specialist lending arena,” says Tony.

He is looking for an underwriter who has, through their actions and resilience, demonstrated a true understanding of the need for specialist lenders and the benefits this industry supplies to borrowers and advisers.


Alistair EwingAlistair Ewing, managing director, The Lending Channel

Judging category: Business Development

Alistair has worked in the financial services sector since joining Clydesdale Bank in 1982. He set up his first secured loan brokerage in 1997, Allscot Finance. As was the case with many small loan brokerages, Allscot did not survive the credit crunch. Undeterred, Alistair launched Blimey Loans in 2010, which rebranded to The Lending Channel.

Alistair says as a small business owner he is pleased his opinion is valued as highly as some of his larger competitors and relishes the opportunity to put forward his views.

On who will secure his winning vote, he says: “They should have tenacity, knowledge and commitment to their role and field.”

He adds:“Ideally there should be clear head room between the winner and the rest of the field. While surprises are always more fun and controversial, the industry should generally be in agreement that the win was deserved. So a winner should be widely and easily recognised as one of the best in field.”


head shot of Dale JannelsDale Jannels, managing director, All Types of Mortgages

Judging category: Underwriter

Dale has worked in the specialist arena since 1999 for AToM. The company survived the recession and remained a champion of the packaging sector, while remaining independently owned and funded. He also sits on the industry contact group for the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries representing the specialist packager community.

“It’s great to be celebrating individuals who aren’t normally in the limelight,” says Dale.

“I’m looking for someone who stands out from the rest. It’s not a popularity contest, and it shouldn’t matter who has the best PR. We’re looking for the unsung heroes who work tirelessly day to day to do the best job for their customers, not just their employers, and especially an individual who has brought something new to the table.”


Buster TolfreeBuster Tolfree, commercial director – specialist mortgages, United Trust Bank

Judging category: Second Charge Broker

Buster has held various senior management roles over the last 18 years within specialist lending, most of which have been in mortgages or consumer lending. He has managed teams of over 100 staff across sales, underwriting, customer services, arrears and asset management.

“It was a pleasure to be asked to judge the inaugural British Specialist Lending Awards,” says Buster. “It is great to see something a little different that celebrates the achievements of the individual and not just the firm, and which also centres on specialist finance given its continuing importance to the market.”

Buster is looking for a second charge broker who has made a real definable and evidenced difference to their company, their customer or the market. He says: “Most importantly not just winning for being ‘well-known’, but winning for being amazing at what they do.”


Lucy HodgeLucy Hodge, managing director, Vantage Finance

Judging category: Business Development

Lucy founded Vantage in 2004 and has grown it to be a successful master brokerage with private equity backing secured last year to help grow the business further. She sits on the board of the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers.

Lucy is looking for innovative and service-driven individuals. “The market needs constant efforts to raise the bar in the specialist sector to improve the client journey and ability to raise finance in the often less conventional arena,” she says.


Paul BrettPaul Brett, managing director, intermediaries, Landbay

Judging category: Complex Buy to Let Broker

This is Paul’s 30th year in the mortgage and finance industry. He has been involved in both lending and distribution across different sectors of the industry, launching several businesses into the market.

Paul is looking for a broker who puts integrity and passion into the role, above all else.

“I’m interested in finding out what excites them in their job and how they see their place in the market in five years’ time,” he says.


Steve Griffiths TSLESteve Griffiths, sales and distribution director, Kensington

Judging category: Complex Buy to Let Broker

Having worked for a leading specialist lender for 17 years, Steve understands the needs of distributors, brokers and their customers. During that time, he has seen a variety of market challenges that the industry has overcome in order to continue delivering the best possible outcomes for our customers and our people.

He says: “Recognition for people working in the specialist lending sector is very important, as they serve customers overlooked by many of the high street lenders, such as hard working self-employed customers. I feel privileged to be on the judging panel for these awards and shining a light on the great work that is going on in our industry.”

Steve is looking for an individual who walks in the shoes of their customer and sets out to improve that journey, through better value for money and use of technology to make the journey, faster and more efficient and offering the best customer service.

“I want to know what their vision is,” says Steve. “Do you have a strategy to deliver on that vision? What is your tactical plan to achieve that strategy and how have you disrupted the market in addressing those customer needs? That’s what I want to know.”


Matthew ToothMatthew Tooth, chief commercial officer, LendInvest

Judging category: Commercial Finance Broker

Matthew has almost 25 years’ experience working in financial services. He is responsible for sales and marketing at one of the UK’s leading short-term property lenders.

He says: “I’m delighted to be involved in an event supported by Specialist Lending Solutions as they have been very supportive of the specialist lending sector.”

“I’m looking for an intermediary who puts their customers first and keeps striving to improve their service. I’ll be finding out how they collect and monitor customer feedback.”


Also judging were:

David Whittaker, Mortgages for Business

Gary Bailey, Together

Charles McDowell, Aldermore

Emma Cox, Shawbrook

Louisa Sedgwick, Vida Homeloans

Claire Rankin, Shawbrook

To find out who else was judging, read the first installment of our Meet the Judges.


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