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FTSE-listed finance firm launches bridging lender

by: Heather Greig-Smith
  • 07/02/2017
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FTSE-listed finance firm launches bridging lender
FTSE-listed specialist finance group S and U has launched Aspen Bridging to provide finance for individuals and business borrowers.

The independent lender is now offering short-term unregulated loans against a wide range of properties, from residential property to commercial industrial units.

The loans are available for England and Wales, with a maximum loan to value (LTV) of 80% for residential properties and amounts ranging from £100,000 to £500,000 (rising to £800,000 at discretion). Aspen will offer second charge loans where the first charge loan is also with the firm.

The rates range from 0.99% to 1.29% per month, with loan terms of 10 months and an arrangement fee of 2%. Aspen is currently working with master brokers Finance 4 Business and SPF Short Term Finance and is considering its first cases.

Aspen is a wholly owned subsidiary of S&U Plc, which was founded in 1938 by Clifford Coombs and listed on the stock exchange in 1961. S&U’s home credit operation traded as Loansathome4u until its disposal in August 2015 for over £82m.

S&U also owns Advantage Finance – the non-prime motor finance business. Advantage employs over 100 people and since 1999 has provided motor finance for over 100,000 customers across the UK, growing at the rate of 20,000 per year.

In his chairman’s statement for half year results in September, S&U chairman Anthony Coombs said preparations were being made for “the measured launch of a pilot secured bridging finance business”. He added: “Whilst we see significant potential in this specialist sector, we will of course pilot bridging finance with our usual caution and exacting standards”.

Speaking to Specialist Lending Solutions, managing director of Aspen, Ed Ahrens (pictured), said the group believes there is significant scope for growth in the bridging market.

“We are a new lender but come with a lot of background in speciality finance from a group perspective. Our message is that we are here for the long term. We believe that the market is growing, notwithstanding Brexit and other issues – there is still a shortage of housing and a great deal of demand.”

He added: “The group was looking for an additional speciality finance area and we did a lot of research into different markets – we liked the look of the bridging market and it plays to the strengths we’ve got within the group. We have a long history of being involved in property development and funding.”

Ahrens said Aspen offers a range of unregulated bridging products including those for refurbishments, and high LTV is an area it is very comfortable with. “Instead of one headline LTV for the whole country we will distinguish between high and low risk properties and regions based off deep analysis. This enables us to offer the highest LTV products in the market.

“Whilst taking a retained interest approach we are only retaining 10 months. This enables customers at no additional charge to roll up a further two months if an extension is required. This effectively means our highest end of term LTV is 82.5%.”

He added that most competitors struggle to provide accurate fee assessments because the surveyor and legal fees incurred are specific to each case.

“We have developed a rapid quoting tool, which offers our broker partners a quote in minutes with all fees and disbursements for both residential and commercial properties. This sourcing system is interactive and informs the broker of the stages of the loan application if the quote is progressed.

We also assign an individual underwriter who is able to make decisions on that case – offering brokers and clients a constant point of contact,” he said.

Ahrens added: “We are working with Finance 4 Business and SPF Short Term Finance as our exclusive master brokers. We have a long history of working closely with brokers over our 20 years in the motor finance industry. Our focus with Aspen is on working with these key master brokers initially and building strong relationships.”

SPF’s Andre Bartlett said: “SPF Short Term Finance is very excited to have agreed this exclusive partnership with Aspen. The combination of rapid and accurate quoting, high LTVs, and a willingness to consider a wide range of cases makes Aspen a strong addition to our lender panel.”

Russell Martin, managing director of Finance 4 Business, said: “At F4B, we are delighted to be selected by Aspen Bridging to exclusively offer their new products. They have demonstrated their acumen to enter this competitive market, by focusing on a niche area. Their unique offering will be well received in the market.”

He added: “They are supported by a strong parent company which, along with our help, has researched the market. Aspen has created an excellent solution to help it reduce the completion times of its loans which eliminates some of the arduous paperwork involved.”


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