Sirius promotes Leoni Alexandrou and Craig Hardiman-Scott

Sirius promotes Leoni Alexandrou and Craig Hardiman-Scott



Craig Hardiman-Scott, formerly a senior associate in the structured finance team, has also been promoted to head of sales, joining the Sirius management team and directly supporting managing director, Nicholas Christofi.

The newly-created roles will all support the growing team at the specialist property debt adviser, said the distributor.

In the last year, Sirius said it has grown its team through significant recruitment in its commercial and structured finance teams, property debt advisory roles and with several new case administrators to provide support.

In May, Sirius Property Finance reportedly partnered with Chris Field to lead the debt adviser’s new specialist business finance team, focused on the care and hospitality sectors. Field held roles at a number of high-profile institutions including a corporate debt advisory firm, a specialist city broker, Lombard, Alpha Bank and Barclays.

Field will lead and grow the new specialist business finance team for Sirius, which includes Emma Vanson who joined the debt adviser in March to specialise in the care and education sectors.

Also in May, Sirius Property Finance strengthened its development division with the recruitment of ex-Mortgage Strategy journalist Devraj Ray as a senior associate who retrained as a broker to join Perception Finance, Enness Global Mortgages and

Sirius Property Finance reportedly recruited Hari Patel to its structured finance team in June who has over 30 years of property and finance experience and Coreco Specialist Finance and Knight Frank on his C.V.

It confirmed the new lending team has already delivered more lending in 2021 than it did in the whole of 2020.

Managing director of Sirius Property Finance, Nicholas Christofi, said: “First, I would like to congratulate Craig and Leoni on their new roles, which are both richly deserved and a testament to their ongoing hard work and commitment to the business. I’d also like to take the chance to welcome all of our new recruits, who have been quick to adapt to our culture and focus on the highest levels of client service.

“It has been a challenging year for everyone, but there have also been opportunities to help individuals and businesses to secure the finance they have needed to navigate this difficult period and fund their objectives. I am very proud and pleased that we have been able to deliver on those opportunities and continue to grow the business in such a robust way.”


First 4 Bridging appoints key account manager and underwriter

First 4 Bridging appoints key account manager and underwriter


Gashi (pictured) has experience in the sales and finance sectors with a focus on specialist lending and private client relationships.

She previously worked at JP Morgan Chase Bank as a lending specialist and Crystal Specialist Finance as a business development manager for corporate sales.

The lender has also appointed Katie Dawes to its underwriting team.

Dawes joins from the Legal Hub Group where she was lending audit manager. She has nine years experience in the finance industry including positions as a case owner at Affirmative Finance and as a case officer at TFC Homeloans.

At F4B, Dawes will be responsible for ensuring cases progress smoothly and service level agreements are reached.

In February 2021, F4B expanded its intermediary proposition with the launch of the F4B Network. This came on the back of demand from advisers who have used the packager’s expertise across the specialist lending markets.

Donna Wells, director at F4B, said further additions would be made to the team as the business expanded.

She added: “The recruitment process is never easy and we are delighted to have attracted two outstanding talents to help accelerate our ambitious growth plans and provide an even stronger level of expertise and support for new and existing intermediary partners.”

Bridging lender Vector Capital targets £100m loan book in two years

Bridging lender Vector Capital targets £100m loan book in two years


The lender, which listed on the Aim in December, reported a year end loan book of £36.4m at the end of 2020, and is predicting a year end loan book size of £40m by the end of this year.

Chief executive officer Agam Jain (pictured) said: “We are still quite small, but we have got an ambitious growth plan, so hopefully in the coming years we will be a bit more prominent.”

He added that there was no need to enter new segments. The lender is focusing on property developers, people buying properties mainly for refurbishment and commercial property.

“From our point of view, there’s lots of opportunities and it is competitive, but you know just by being better and more aggressive we’re going to get our share,” he said.

Jain said that listing was challenging due to the pandemic, adding that the process took around six months.

He said: “It’s not necessarily the easiest way of raising capital, and if people have got connections with private investors of a large enough scale that might not be a motivation for them. But for us, we wanted to go down this road because you know we want to build a brand as well, not just a loan book.”


Economic outlook

He added that the pipeline for the business was “very good” and “higher than it has been ever”, but chancellor Rishi Sunak’s upcoming tax announcements on 27 October could have a dampening effect.

Jain said: “If you ask me today, it’s a very good pipeline but it only takes a bit of bad news, especially on taxes, for people that do these projects to feel it’s not worth it anymore. When that happens, then obviously things will change.”

He added: “I think everybody is very optimistic about the economy, particularly in our segment. But I think the next dampener will be when Rishi Sunak announces what he’s going to do about tax.

“We’re on this sort of optimistic gravy train at the moment. I don’t know whether we’ll be able to think, it doesn’t matter, we’re going to pay a bit more [in taxes], but we can still carry on as we are.”


Pandemic lending

During the pandemic Jain said that there was a “three-month pause” among bridging lenders during the initial lockdown. Most lenders, including Vector Capital, ceased new lending due to uncertainty. The firm restarted new lending at the end of June 2020.

Jain said: “Our industry was less affected than others…because we were lending against property and the property prices didn’t crash in three months. We still had a bit of equity, and then when our borrowers asked for a holiday we were able to be considerate the request and give that.

“We weren’t foregoing the interest, we were just deferring it, it didn’t affect our results that much. As a consequence, we also didn’t actually have any bad debts, which you could have expected.”


Market growth

He said that the market was still growing but warned that a correction could be on the horizon, as loan to values (LTV) continue to climb.

He explained that twice in the past lenders had gone up to 90 per cent LTV or 100 per cent LTV, with some even going up to 105 per cent LTV as they expected property prices to rise.

Jain said: “We are still trying to play a safe 75 per cent LTV, and the reason for that is there will be a correction at some stage, and you don’t want to be that lender who, in order to grow its loan book and get a bigger market share, went out at 100 per cent or 105 per cent LTV.”

He added: “The market is expanding, there is a lot of opportunity there, but we still think that lenders should be responsible and safe and not over egg the pudding.”

Jain said that recently developers had been struggling with margin, as materials were taking 12 weeks or more to arrive and prices had gone up by between 20 to 30 per cent.

“This means that their project is taking longer to complete, they’ve got more costs and more interest being accrued. Assuming that their expectation that their sale price will hold up, a lot of them are getting very close or borderline.”

He said that to adjust to the changing environment it was important to be supportive, especially if you were working with someone on several projects.

“We have to be supportive for mutual interest. Trying to pull the rug isn’t going to help anybody.”

Some cases had begun to edge up to 90 per cent LTV, he added, but as these clients were doing multiple projects they could offer other security from their portfolio.

Mint Property Finance makes four hires in expansion drive

Mint Property Finance makes four hires in expansion drive


Joseph Haworth (pictured, middle right) has joined as finance director. He was formerly managing director at private equity group Latium.  

Haworth is also currently the director and trustee of Motherwell Cheshire, a charity dedicated to promoting positive mental health and wellbeing in women. 

Rachel McIver (pictured, far left) has been hired as portfolio manager and she joined from Lloyds Banking Group where she worked for 19 years. Her most recent position was commercial banking relationship manager, a role she held for 13 years. 

The lender has also expanded its underwriting support team with the addition of Samuel Williams  and Bethany Clawson (pictured, middle left and far right). 

Andrew Lazare, founder and managing director of Mint Property Finance, said: “Investing in the right team is a key part of our growth strategy. As we continue to expand our breadth of market-beating products and our geographic reach both in Scotland and the South, it’s important that we also expand the breadth of our team. 

“Joseph, Rachel, Samuel and Bethany, bring to the business not only proven and extensive sector expertise, but a genuine passion and commitment to the industry. They’re incredibly talented and a great fit with our team, we’re delighted to welcome them to the Mint Property Finance family.” 

Accord and YBS Commercial cut rates on BTL

Accord and YBS Commercial cut rates on BTL


A 0.20 per cent reduction has been made to YBS Commercial’s five-year fixed rate deals while a cut of 0.15 per cent has been applied to the ten-year fixed rate.

The house in multiple occupation (HMO) rate has been trimmed by 0.10 per cent.

Highlights of the new range, available to corporate or individual large loan buy-to-let borrowers, include:

• A five-year fixed rate at 3.20 per cent, cut from 3.40 per cent, available up to 65 per cent loan-to-value (LTV).

• A 10-year fixed rate at 3.70 per cent, cut from 3.85 per cent, available up to 75 per cent LTV.

Accord Mortgages has trimmed rates on selected buy-to-let remortgage deals for landlords with 35 to 40 per cent equity in their rental properties.

A two-year fixed rate remortgage at 1.31 per cent is available for landlords with 40 per cent equity for a fee of £1,495.

For landlords with 35 per cent equity, a two-year fixed rate remortgage at 1.71 per cent is available for a £495 completion fee.

Simon Garner, buy-to-let mortgage manager at Accord, said: “Reducing the rates on these selected products will give brokers and their landlord clients better value. We’re sure they will be a welcome addition to the current competitive market.”

Together’s lending slides 29 per cent but profits jump

Together’s lending slides 29 per cent but profits jump


On average, Together’s monthly gross lending reached £97.6m down 31 per cent from £140.7m in 2020.

The specialist lender’s loan book, which totalled £4bn down from £4.2bn the year before, is made up of residential first and second charge lending, buy-to-let, unregulated bridging, commercial and development loans. The largest portion of the book is made up of buy-to-let lending at 27 per cent followed by first and second charge lending which accounts for 26 per cent of the loan book.

In March at the start of the pandemic, the lender stopped all new lending and in June it cancelled all commercial and pre-offer residential pipeline cases, before laying off 180 staff in July. At the start of September, Together cautiously resumed lending.

Some 98 per cent of Together’s new lending was advanced at less than 80 per cent loan to value (LTV). The average LTV for the book was 52 per cent.

Profit before tax was up by 59 per cent from £94.6m to £150.3m which the company attributed to successful securitisations and new process and product improvements.

Together’s net interest margin was squeezed from 6.4 per cent to 6.1 per cent.

Chairman Mike McTighe (pictured) said: “Our momentum has been increasing, and monthly lending in the final month of the [financial] year returned to pre-pandemic levels.”

He added: “This increase in lending is supported by strong levels of liquidity and the group’s funding headroom has never been higher at £1.4bn. We have continued to raise new funds from the debt-capital markets across our financing structure.

“Later in the year we launched our first two commercial mortgage-backed securitisations and, shortly after the year end, a further private securitisation facility.

“Thanks to such measures, and a raft of process and product improvements the group’s profitability not only exceeded last year’s but reached its highest ever level.”

Renewed opportunities remain in the commercial finance market – Fulcher

Renewed opportunities remain in the commercial finance market – Fulcher


However, there remain options for strong applications, and good relationships along with strong sector expertise can still make the difference in getting a case across the line.

We’re currently seeing quite a few investment transactions, with investor clients looking to buy either commercial or semi-commercial property. Experience is the key to finding a solution for these cases.

A client doesn’t necessarily have to have previous experience in commercial investments, but if they are looking to finance a commercial asset, a track record in at least semi-commercial is useful.

Similarly, clients have options to invest in semi-commercial even if they don’t have semi-commercial experience, as long as they can demonstrate some experience in buy-to-let investing. Another consideration here is the rental track record on the property.

Typically, loans are available for up to 65 per cent loan to value (LTV) or sometimes 70 per cent LTV. In some cases, mainly on semi-commercial where a significant proportion of the asset is made up of residential, loans can be available up to 75 per cent LTV.


Strength of the individual business 

Banks are still lending to trading businesses and the maximum LTV tends to be 70 per cent.

The main consideration in lending to trading businesses is clearly the strength of the business. Lenders will factor in whether that business has made use of the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), and this is hitting the borrowing prospects for many.

However, if a business is strong and can demonstrate that it can sustainably service its BBLS debt, or pay off the balance, then there are lending options. In addition, the Recovery Loan Scheme continues to run until the end of the year and we are aware of lenders that have funds ready to deploy on this scheme.

In terms of sectors, retail, pubs and offices are still generally out of favour – which accounts for a lot of commercial lending. However, there are lenders willing to lend to businesses in these sectors and it is down to the strength of the individual business.

So there remains opportunities for brokers who want to secure commercial finance for their clients, whether they are investors or trading businesses.

The key is to work with the right partner that has the depth of knowledge, strength of relationships and access to make the most of renewed opportunities in the commercial market.


HTB updates BTL range; Shawbrook launches platform-exclusive deal – round-up

HTB updates BTL range; Shawbrook launches platform-exclusive deal – round-up


The lender offers individual pricing depending on the borrower and the property asset.  

Its two-year fixed rates now start at 3.84 per cent up to 65 per cent loan to value (LTV), 3.99 per cent up to 70 per cent LTV and 4.09 per cent up to 75 per cent LTV. 

Meanwhile, five-year fixed rates begin at 3.99 per cent up to 65 per cent LTV, 4.14 up to 70 per cent LTV and 4.19 per cent up to 75 per cent LTV. 

Marcus Dussard (pictured), sales director of HTB Specialist Mortgages, said: “We closely monitor lending and market conditions to offer competitive service and products to ensure our brokers have access to the most competitive propositions we have to offer.   

“Being ready, willing and able to lend during all market cycles has meant we have continued to innovate and grow our capability to support the market at a time when landlords have needed us most.” 

“With this product refresh and further enhanced service, we continue to be able to give brokers and borrowers what they’ve been asking for to support their ambitions and should be seen as a sign of our commitment to provide landlords access to a great service and compelling rates,” he added. 


Shawbrook Bank launches exclusive BTL deal 

Shawbrook Bank has introduced a buy-to-let product which will be available exclusively through its recently launched digital portal, MyShawbrook Buy-to-Let. 

The platform was launched last week. It provides mortgage offers and automated valuations by using Application Programming Interface (API) technology to integrate with third parties such as Hometrack. 

The non-portfolio product is designed to sit alongside the new system and support cases that are expected to benefit from the automation capabilities.  

It has a rate of 3.69 per cent up to 75 per cent LTV, and is available to non-portfolio landlords with single dwelling applications. To be eligible, the property must qualify for an automated property valuation (AVM) and borrowers must be willing to proceed with one.  

Additionally, the lender has reduced rates by up to 0.60 per cent across its buy-to-let range on mortgages up to £1m. 

Emma Cox, sales director at Shawbrook Bank, said: “This product has been designed to work in harmony with our new digital portal. Cases that meet the product’s eligibility criteria should sail through the new system with minimal manual intervention, freeing up our expert teams to concentrate on the more complex cases that make us specialists. In turn, this will improve the experience for all our buy-to-let customers. 

“I hope this, coupled with more competitive rates across our offering, sends a clear signal of our continued support and commitment to the market.” 

Castle Trust Bank removes loading for HMO and holiday lets and cuts rates

Castle Trust Bank removes loading for HMO and holiday lets and cuts rates


The lender has removed loading, where an increased cost or additional rate is applied to certain products, from its HMO and holiday let range.

Castle Trust Bank has also cut rates across its product offering, with rates now starting from 3.82 per cent.

It has also brought out a buy-to-let (BTL) exclusive at 3.95 per cent up to 70 per cent loan to value (LTV). The product is available via Brightstar Financial, Brilliant Solutions, Commercial Trust, Crystal Specialist Finance, First 4 Bridging, SPF, Sirius, Synergy Commercial, Watts Commercial and Vibe Financial Services.

The lender is continuing its exclusive five-year fixed rate product, which is priced at 4.5 per cent and comes with early repayment charges for the first two years.

This product is available through Brightstar Financial, Commercial Trust, Complete FS, Crystal Specialist Finance, First 4 Bridging, Positive Lending, Rangewell, SPF, Sirius, Synergy Commercial, The BTL Broker, Watts Commercial, Vibe Financial Services and Yellowstone Finance.

Castle Trust Bank’s sales director Rob Oliver said: “It’s now more than a year since we became a bank, and one of the many advantages is that it gives us greater flexibility in our product development and pricing.

“We have already seen the popularity of our HMO, holiday let and bridge to let products amongst brokers and we hope to make them even more attractive to a wider group of customers, with even keener pricing.”

He added that the lender continued to support its distribution partnership with the BTL exclusive and the extension of its five-year fixed rate exclusive.

BTL rate cuts unveiled by Paragon and Landbay – round-up

BTL rate cuts unveiled by Paragon and Landbay – round-up


Paragon Bank has launched two limited edition buy-to-let products for self-contained units, houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and multi-unit blocks (MUBs).

Both products are available at up to 75 per cent loan-to-value (LTV), with a two-year fixed rate starting at 2.65 per cent and a five-year fixed rate at 2.99 per cent. The deals come with free mortgage valuations and £750 cashback. The two-year fixed product has a one per cent product fee, which rises to two per cent for the five-year deal.

The products are available for both purchase and remortgage, including experienced landlords purchasing as individuals or through limited companies.

Richard Rowntree (pictured), managing director for mortgages at Paragon Bank, said the fact the products were available for self-contained units, HMOs and MUBs alike made them unique, adding that he expected them to be very popular, particularly given they were only available for a limited time.

He continued: “In addition to the strong demand for rented property that is continuing to drive purchases, we know there is a need for keenly priced remortgage products. This is due to the significant numbers of landlords who have deals maturing, while others may want to take advantage of house price rises to raise capital for improvements; expanding our range of limited-edition mortgages will help to support landlords in these situations.”


Landbay launches green deals

Elsewhere, Landbay has cut rates across its special edition buy-to-let range, alongside the launch of two green products.

The rate cuts include the standard two-year fixed rate at 70 per cent LTV dropping from 2.95 per cent to 2.79 per cent, while the standard five-year fixed rate at the same LTV band moves from 3.39 per cent to 2.99 per cent.

Landbay has also dropped rates on its HMO range, with its two-year fixed rate at 70 per cent LTV moving from 3.35 per cent to 2.89 per cent.

Both of the new green products are five-year fixed rates for landlords with a deposit of at least 30 per cent. For properties with an EPC rating of C, the interest rate stands at 2.94 per cent, while for those with an A or B rating the rate falls to 2.89 per cent.

Paul Brett, managing director of intermediaries at Landbay, noted that these products were “highly competitive”, and pointed to the fact they followed reductions across the lender’s core range announced last month.

He added: “The interest we have received in our core green mortgage range, which we launched in June, led us to introduce green products into our special edition range. We are always keen to provide more choice as well as competitive products for our broker partners and their landlord clients.”