Together’s loan book rises to high of £7bn

Together’s loan book rises to high of £7bn

Compared to the preceding quarter, this was a growth from Together’s loan book of £6.8bn. 

During the most recent quarter, Together’s average monthly lending volumes came to £262.5m, which was 24% higher than last year. 

It reported an underlying profit before tax of £51.8m for the period, up 25.4% annually. This compared to a figure of £47.7m at the close of the prior quarter. 

Mike McTighe (pictured), chair of Together, said; “We have delivered another strong performance in the quarter to 31 March, with the loan book reaching a new high of £7bn, while we maintained low loan to values [LTVs] and an attractive net interest margin [NIM].

“Monthly lending increased by 24% and net interest income [NII], underlying profits and cash receipts rose by 32%, 26% and 42% respectively, compared with the same quarter last year.

“We continued to shape our business for the future, completing the scope of the transformation project to further improve the experience for our customers and future proof our business, including selecting our new lending platform, Ncino.” 

Last month, Together announced it had partnered with tech firm Ncino to update its mortgage and lending proposition with the use of Ncino’s cloud banking platform. 

The group has also issued two residential mortgage-backed securitisations (RMBSs) since January and launched a £150m funding facility for small and medium-sized property developers.

McTighe said: “Looking ahead, while inflation has continued to fall and interest rates are increasingly expected to begin to edge down, UK GDP growth is forecast to remain fairly subdued in the short term.

“As we celebrate 50 successful years in business, we remain cautiously optimistic about the future and will continue to help our customers realise their ambitions and play our part in supporting the UK economy.” 

Downing Property Finance hires Powell as investment director

Downing Property Finance hires Powell as investment director

He will be responsible for originating new development finance loans across England and Wales. This will be part of Downing Property Finance’s commitment to supporting brokers and developers across the UK. 

Powell has more than a decade of experience in the development finance sector, having worked at Hampshire Trust Bank (HTB) as a lending manager, where he worked closely with brokers and developers.

Howell said: “I am looking forward to reconnecting with my broker and developer network as part of the team at Downing Property Finance as we build on strong growth, based on the team’s reputation for excellent service and the company’s strong capital position. 

“Downing’s focus on providing streamlined financing solutions and making property finance funding simple, straightforward and sustainable is delivering success for our current and future clients and I am excited to be part of the team.” 

Parik Chandra, head of specialist lending at Downing Property Finance, added: “The appointment of Will continues the expansion of our team, and we are confident he will make a major contribution as we continue to grow our business.

“We constantly seek outstanding talent to join our ranks through our recruitment strategy, which values a blend of relationship management, sales acumen, and credit expertise.” 

Earlier this year, the company launched a range of finance solutions for property developers including sustainable practices in their projects. This was backed by £75m in funding from HSBC.

Zenzic Capital appoints Blowers as senior adviser

Zenzic Capital appoints Blowers as senior adviser

Prior to joining Zenzic Capital, Blowers worked as a partner at debt advisory business Voltaire Financial for nearly three years, and before that, he was a co-founder at development finance provider Maslow Capital for around 12 years.

Before that, he was head of structured property finance at Invest Private Bank for around five years, and previously worked at Allied Irish Bank from 1983 to 2005. He has also held roles at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

Zenzic Capital recently hired Simon Brown as its head of real estate development finance lending, and has made a further two hires.

The company was launched in 2015 and offers debt finance throughout the UK across a number of sectors, including logistics, student accommodation, residential, hotels and leisure.

In January this year, the firm launched a £500m UK purpose-built student accommodation strategy, which will invest in existing stock and develop new assets.

Nadine Buckland, CEO of Zenzic Capital, said: “Chris is very well-known in the industry, with an impressive track record of originating and executing deals as well as building successful businesses. His expertise and insight will be invaluable in supporting Tom and I as we expand our lending activities and secure Zenzic’s position as a leading real estate investment manager.”

Blowers added: “Zenzic has an outstanding reputation as a straightforward, flexible lender that is well-positioned to help SME developers navigate the challenging current macroeconomic environment. I have known the highly regarded leadership team for many years and believe that they have the opportunity to grow into a leading player in the sector”.

Cambridge and Counties Bank completes record £328m gross lending

Cambridge and Counties Bank completes record £328m gross lending

Cambridge and Counties Bank said this highlighted its support for SMEs, entrepreneurs, and professional property investors in the UK.

The lender said its asset finance business was “fast growing”, with record customer drawdowns and new book growth resulting in a 17% rise in exposures to £83m. 

These loans are for firms to acquire essential assets such as machinery and vehicles. 

Finance for the purchase of classic, vintage and sports cars rose 18% to £51m. 

Its pre-tax profit increased 44% annually to £40.9m, while there was a 5% rise in customer loans to £1.10bn, as well as a 5% uplift in customer deposits to £1.15bn. 

Cambridge and Counties Bank’s staff numbers rose by a tenth to 225 employees, and it said it maintained a combination of “good cost control and growth in income”. This led to its cost-income ratio falling from 44% to 37%.


A focus on service and product excellence

Donald Kerr (pictured), CEO at Cambridge and Counties Bank, said: “Across 2023, we continued to execute against our strategic priorities with the aim to become the specialist SME bank of choice in the UK. Our relentless focus on service and product excellence as well as a dedicated relationship-based market approach to both customers and commercial finance brokers will, we firmly believe, result in continued growth as business confidence begins to recover. 

“We recognise the challenging economic conditions and continue to monitor closely the potential impact on our customers, yet our through-the-cycle business model and financial strength enables us to continue to support customers via the deployment of experienced bankers offering deep support where needed.” 

The lender also achieved B Corp Certification in June. In order to be certified, a company must achieve a B Impact Assessment score of 80 or above and pass an in-depth risk review. Cambridge and Counties Bank scored 92.8, which it said outperformed the UK banking sector on impact on the environment, customers, and its people. 

In August, the lender also agreed to a £20m Tier 2 capital facility from British Business Investments to increase its volume of lending to smaller businesses over and above levels it might have otherwise been able to provide. 

Patrick Newberry, chair of Cambridge and Counties Bank, said: “We entered 2023 knowing that it was going to be tough and unpredictable. However, by deploying the bank’s strengths – strong customer and broker relationships, good credit risk and arrears management, and nimble deposit gathering mechanisms – we were able to navigate the stormy waters and deliver for our clients. Both real estate finance and asset finance delivered a stellar performance as a result of the continuing forensic focus of our frontline teams. 

“While it is true that interest rate movements during the year worked in the wider banking sector’s favour, it is not axiomatic that bank profitability will increase in times of rising rates. Action is always needed to capitalise on opportunities.” 

Secure Trust Bank posts rise in net loan book in Q1

Secure Trust Bank posts rise in net loan book in Q1

Compared to the preceding quarter for Secure Trust Bank, this was up by 1.7%. 

The bank said its real estate finance division saw “encouraging” 3.8% growth during the quarter, but commercial finance balances declined, “reflecting the challenging market environment”. 

Balances in its retail finance division increased by 1.4%, while vehicle finance balances saw a 1.6% growth. 

The lender said customer deposits rose by 1.7% to £2.9bn in Q1, which would support its lending objectives. Compared to the same period last year, deposit balances were 14.8% higher. 


Closer to £4bn net lending goal 

David McCreadie, chief executive of Secure Trust Bank, said its performance brought the lender closer to its future ambitions. 

He added: “The group continued to grow net lending in the quarter and is trading in line with management expectations. I am pleased that the positive momentum from last year has continued and that we have taken another step towards our £4bn net lending ambition.

“We have seen improved lending quality in retail finance and continued to enhance our collections processes in vehicle finance. We have identified further opportunities to streamline our operations and generate additional cost efficiencies.”

He added: “With the UK economy returning to growth and the likelihood of interest rate reductions improving, we remain confident in delivering on our plans for the full year and our medium-term targets.” 

In January, it was reported that Secure Trust Bank’s new lending had jumped by 30% in Q4.

Shawbrook’s loan book grows 15% to £13.8bn in Q1

Shawbrook’s loan book grows 15% to £13.8bn in Q1

According to Shawbrook’s latest financial report, it had “further strengthened” its funding base, with its deposit book rising to £14.8bn, up from £13.6bn at the end of 2023.

The report found that its arrears ratio stands at 2.5%, a slight increase from 2.3% as of 31 December 2023.

Marcelino Castrillo, Shawbrook Bank’s CEO, said that it had “started the year positively, with customers continuing to value the premium experience, flexibility and certainty Shawbrook delivers across our diverse markets”.

He continued: “Our deep customer understanding continues to inform and drive service enhancements and product innovation, illustrated by the recent launch of our secured structured real estate proposition. Offering bespoke, relationship-led support to professional landlords, this service provides financing solutions for larger and more complex transactions.”

Castrillo said that the macroeconomic landscape continues to evolve, and that the company was “encouraged by the versatility of our ‘best-of-both’ model and the resilient performance we have delivered to date”.

He added that, while there was a “gradual but notable improvement in sentiment across our specialist markets, our expert portfolio management teams continue to work closely with customers”.

“Supported by our data-driven, forward-looking risk management frameworks, we closely monitor the outputs from targeted early-warning indicators to identify and react quickly to any emerging risks,” Castrillo noted.

He said that, in Q1, it had progressed the roll-out of a cloud contact-centre technology that offered “in-depth AI-driven sentiment analysis”.

Castrillo continued: “Delivering brilliant customer experiences is increasingly reliant on data and advanced technologies as we serve more customers more frequently across multiple channels.

“The breadth of our specialist offering and the flexibility of our platform will allow us to deliver for more customers in our chosen markets by combining the innovative mindset and agility of a start-up with the scale and financial strength of a large business.”

In April, the company announced it was slashing its complex buy-to-let (BTL) deal rates.

Simply Asset Finance’s gross loan book rises to £480m

Simply Asset Finance’s gross loan book rises to £480m

This is up from a total of £417m in 2022, and higher than the gross loan book value of £307m reported in 2021. Simply Asset Finance attributed this to providing borrowers with targeted funding. 

The lender issues finance to small and medium-sized businesses in the UK. 

The specialist lender has seen its gross loan book value grow steadily since its launch in 2017. 

The value of loans originated in 2023 came to £1.3bn, which was its highest figure to date and up from a total of £1bn the year before. 

Simply Asset Finance reported a profit before tax of £5.5m, down from £7.1m previously, and saw its revenue rise from £38.2m to £52.3m. 

It served 7,488 borrowers in 2023, up from 5,989 in the year prior. To date, Simply Asset Finance has helped to finance over 7,400 customers across the UK through 15,161 agreements. 

The lender has a team of 155 employees and extended its reach in June last year with the opening of its sales centre in Liverpool, which has seen £7m in advances across more than 100 deals so far. 


Continued growth at Simply Asset Finance

Mike Randall, CEO at Simply Asset Finance, said: “Another year on and the continued growth of the business only emphasises the hard work of our team at Simply, and the need for better access to business funding in the UK for our customers. We’re immensely proud of how far we’ve come as a business, and these results help to further cement our growth for the year ahead. We are working hard to build a solution, and framework that sets the standard for small business lending in the UK – one that ensures every SME can get the money they need, when they need it, to spur their growth.

“We’re seeing more and more signs of 2024 being a positive year for growth as SMEs demonstrate their resilience, business optimism is on the rise, and inflation is coming down. Our support of these firms is unwavering, and we are excited to see what the year ahead holds for the businesses so vital to our economy.” 

Stefan Wolvaardt, Simply Asset Finance’s CFO, added: “Taking into account a year of high interest and double-digit inflation, we’re incredibly positive about the profits we have achieved at a time when every business has faced hardships. Demand has shown no signs of slowing, and with our origination to date increasing to £1.3bn, businesses are clearly seeking to enable their growth in the year ahead, which we are here to help them achieve.” 

Redwood Bank doubles profit before tax to £5.5m

Redwood Bank doubles profit before tax to £5.5m

According to Redwood Bank, it reported a profit before tax of £2.3m in 2022 and £2.2m in 2021. The latter is the first year it reached profitability.

The firm added that the increase in profit was due to a rise in net interest income (NII) of £8m, which is partially offset by higher impairment charges of £300,000 and higher administrative costs of £4.4m.

Redwood Bank added that its loan book has grown by £11m to £414m and total customer deposits rose by £53m to £500m.

In October last year, Redwood Bank said that its parent company, Redwood Financial Partners (RFPL), had signed head of terms for the reverse takeover of R8 Capital Investment in a “strategic move to raise capital”.

Gary Wilkinson (pictured), Redwood Bank’s CEO and co-founder, said: “I am incredibly proud of our results, especially as we stand on the verge of a momentous event in the bank’s story.

“From a standing start, and despite battling the formidable headwinds created by a mix of the pandemic, Brexit, a cost-of-living crisis and rising Bank of England base rates, Redwood Bank has achieved incredible results.

“Our proven business model has secured the trust of our brokers and customers, who know we will go the extra mile to support them to grow their businesses. We have never shied away from the challenges; rather, we have met them head-on, and the profits we have achieved are testament to our commitment to back British business.”

He continued on to say that the planned reverse takeover would “allow the bank to grow the balance sheet significantly without proportionately increasing costs and enable us to deliver enhanced stakeholder value”.

Wilkinson said that supporting the successful completion of the “reverse takeover” is an “area of key focus for us, and we hope it will be finalised in Q3”.

Jonathan Rowland, chairperson and shareholder of RFPL and R8, said: “I am delighted to see such a strong set of results for the bank, and the reverse takeover will provide a fantastic opportunity to launch an exciting new chapter in the bank’s future development.”

Together appoints Oliver as corporate portfolio director

Together appoints Oliver as corporate portfolio director

He will report to Alex Garland, head of corporate lending and portfolio at Together.

Oliver joins from Santander, where he worked for around four years as senior director real estate, and before that, he was director of credit for three years.

Prior to that, he was senior manager at Nab for nearly seven years, and before that, he was at Bank of Scotland for around 11 years.

Garland said: “We’re delighted to welcome Russell to the Together team. His reputation for his expert knowledge is known across the real estate finance market, and he will be a great asset to the company, helping Together grow across Yorkshire, and the North.

“Russell’s experience, combined with our values and vision as a relationship lender, will play a big part in building our presence across the corporate real estate market.

“Having only joined a few weeks ago, Russell has shown his dedication supporting our corporate team as we continue to work towards our goal of becoming the most valued lending company in the UK.”

Oliver added: “After nearly 30 years of working in mainstream banking, I am looking forward to taking on a new challenge in helping Together expand across the corporate real estate market. Together takes a relationship-first approach to its customers, and this is a mentality I am keen to be a part of.

“Its flexible approach to lending means I’ll be able to support a wide range of businesses achieve their property ambitions in ways I perhaps wouldn’t have been able to do previously, and I’m looking forward to introducing Together to my network over the next couple of months.”

In an interview with this publication, Together’s chief commercial officer Ryan Etchells said that the firm had headroom to grow and it had ambition to do so.

Zenzic Capital adds duo to team

Zenzic Capital adds duo to team

Both will be based at Zenzic Capital’s London headquarters and will report to Simon Brown, who recently joined as head of real estate development finance lending.

Clouston will take on the role of vice president for development finance and brings nearly a decade of real estate lending experience to the firm.

He joins the firm from the Bank of New Zealand, where he spent around eight years in its Auckland office, most recently as client director.

In his role, he will build on existing relationships and establish new ones with introducers, property developers and investors.

Barnes will be responsible for research, financial analysis and transaction underwriting, mainly for real estate mezzanine and senior debt opportunities.

He previously worked at Westpac Banking Corporation in Melbourne, Australia, where he was an assistant relationship manager in the property finance team for around three years.

Brown said: “These latest hires continue the impressive growth trajectory of Zenzic Capital and will allow us to unlock and complete more lending opportunities as we position ourselves as a leading provider of bespoke real estate finance in the UK.

“Both Richard and Edward have already brought a great deal of ability and enthusiasm to their new roles and I’m sure will be valuable additions to our expanding team. I look forward to working with them both.”