Hersch joined the ASTL in June 2012. Since his appointment the trade body said membership has grown from 36 (22 lender members and 12 associate members) to 65 (37 lender members and 28 associate members). During his tenure the ASTL has also launched an annual conference.
Keith Aldridge, managing director of Amicus Property Finance, said Hersch has “enhanced the reputation” of the trade body.
“In the five years since Benson has been at the helm, the ASTL has been a growing influence in the short-term market as it has grown and matured,” he said. “The reputation of any trade body is typically determined by the impact its CEO has on getting its members working together for mutual benefit and Benson has enhanced the reputation of the ASTL to a point that it now a recognised body that is listened to when it lobbies on behalf of its members.
“We are committed to developing close partnerships with all the professions involved in getting a loan over the line and it is testimony to the work Benson has done during his tenure that the ASTL now has more associate members from these stakeholder groups than it had full members when he started.”
Matthew Tooth, chief commercial officer at Lend Invest, praised Hersch’s “principled approach”.
“Benson and his team at the ASTL have played an instrumental role in turning round the image of bridging finance in the post-financial crisis years,” he said. “He’s part of the movement to help people understand that bridging needn’t be a borrower’s last resort, but rather a cost-effective, time-efficient financing option that makes sense in a funding environment that continues to be underserved by the more traditional, mainstream lenders.
“Benson’s understated and principled approach has paid increasing dividends, and the longer that he has been in post the more our industry has come to demonstrate the higher professional standards advocated by the ASTL.”
Hersch said he has “built on the base” established in 2008 by Adrian Bloomfield and that the trade body has grown from strength to strength.
“When I first joined, I visited all the members to establish what they wanted from the organisation and I continue to engage members to ensure that the ASTL meets their requirements,” he said.
He added: “What has happened in the last five years? To simply say ‘a lot’ is really an understatement. The ASTL continues to grow and has fostered professionalism and responsible lending in the bridging finance sector. We have also introduced a tougher Code of Conduct providing for increased transparency and TCF [Treating Customers Fairly].
“Five years ago the role of CEO was advertised as varied and rewarding; to include leading the organisation, driving it forward and working proactively to implement the policies of the association. I am pleased to say that, with the help of the executive committee and the members, the profile of the ASTL, and of bridging in general, has been raised over that time. Varied and rewarding? Definitely,” he said.