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Fraud prevention and improving the bridging sector remain critical goals 10 years on – Hersch

by: Benson Hersch, CEO of the Association of Short Term Lenders (ASTL)
  • 11/10/2018
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Fraud prevention and improving the bridging sector remain critical goals 10 years on – Hersch
When the 2008 credit crisis hit the UK property market it was important for alternative finance to fill the gap left by the mainstream mortgage sector. The ASTL was set up that March with 19 members to provide a voice for bridging lenders and now it is celebrating 10 years of activity.

 

 

What has the ASTL achieved in the past 10 years?

The ASTL has achieved a lot over the past decade. We’ve grown to 35 members and 28 associate members.

I was appointed CEO in July 2012 and after discussions with members grew the current rules and ethos of the ASTL, which continues to strive for improved professionalism in the sector.

I’m proud of the regular dialogue we have with various bodies including the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), HM Treasury and other trade bodies.

We have held successful conferences, providing members with presentations on the political, legal, economic and regulatory environments in the UK.

 

How does the ATSL help shape policy and the regulatory regime?

The ASTL helps HM Treasury, regulators and various trade bodies understand the short-term lending sector.

We’ve taken part in discussions about the Mortgage Market Review, loans regulated under the Consumer Credit Act, affordability requirements for buy-to-let mortgages, and the implementation of the EU Mortgage Directive, among other things.

 

How does the ASTL help tackle fraud in the short-term lending sector?

The ASTL has made reducing fraud in the sector a real focus.

Members now have access to HMRC’s Mortgage Verification Scheme which is a joint initiative between HMRC and mortgage lenders. This allows lenders to check income information submitted by first-time buyers on a mortgage application form against HMRC records, using a secure electronic platform.

ASTL members pay a reduced rate for the SIRA anti-fraud software which provides a highly developed solution to fraud prevention.

We also have an arrangement with National Hunter which is a not-for-profit company primarily concerned with the prevention of application fraud within the banking, finance and insurance industries.

In addition, we provide regular discussion meetings at which members’ staff can discuss matters of concern and our solicitor associate members give guidance and the benefit of their experience.

 

What are the most important issues on the ASTL’s agenda?

Continued improvement of the sector is our main concern. Fraud prevention remains a high priority. Consultation and dialogue with various trade and regulatory bodies is also very important.

 

What does the ASTL hope to achieve in the next 10 years?

The next 10 years will be interesting and we look forward to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

Our plan is to continue supporting members and representing their interests when talking to government and regulatory bodies and maintain strong communications.

I also intend to find new ways to improve our education services for both members and intermediaries, both with other trade associations and by providing seminars.

 

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