All the winners of the British Specialist Lending Awards 2020

All the winners of the British Specialist Lending Awards 2020


As part of a unique online setting, winners were announced in 22 categories spanning the breadth of the industry.

Here they are, congratulations to everyone.



Rising Star – Distributor sponsored by Precise Mortgages
Kimberley Gates, Sirius Property Finance


Complex Buy-to-Let sponsored by Paragon
Abbie Gaul, Impact Specialist Finance


Commercial Finance sponsored by InterBay Commercial
Kim McGinley, Vibe Finance


Second Charge sponsored by West One Loans
Kieran Jenner, Positive Lending


Bridging and Short-Term Finance sponsored by Roma Finance
Phil Mabb, Bridge Development Property Finance


Complex Credit sponsored by Vida Homeloans
Michelle Leyland, Adverse Money



Rising Star – Product Provider sponsored by Vantage Finance
Mia House, HTB


Underwriter sponsored by Criteria Hub
Anthony Lomax, Aldermore


Business Development sponsored by Virtus Search
Stewart Green, Vida Homeloans


Head of Sales sponsored by 3mc
Jamie Pritchard, Precise Mortgages


Head of National Accounts sponsored by Uinsure
Liza Campion, Precise Mortgages


Business Leader

Specialist Distribution sponsored by Saffron for Intermediaries
Stephanie Charman, Sesame Bankhall Group


Surveyor sponsored by Mortgage Brain
Joe Arnold, Arnold & Baldwin


Conveyancer sponsored by Rostrum
Peter Joseph, The Moving Hub


Bridging Lender sponsored by Specialist Lending Solutions
Scott Marshall, Roma Finance


Commercial Finance Lender sponsored by Connect for Intermediaries
Mark Parrett, InterBay Commercial


Complex Buy-to-Let Lender sponsored by TBMC
Adrian Moloney, OneSavings Bank


Second Charge Lender sponsored by Brightstar Financial
Buster Tolfree, United Trust Bank


Complex Credit Lender sponsored by One Mortgage System
Louisa Sedgwick, Vida Homeloans



Administrator sponsored by Pepper Money
Fran Bradshaw, The Buy to Let Broker


Development & Innovation Advocate sponsored by The Mortgage Lender
Ying Tan, Dynamo


Outstanding Contribution sponsored by Zephyr Homeloans
Tony Salentino







MCI urges brokers to use second charges for low equity borrowers

MCI urges brokers to use second charges for low equity borrowers


Mel Spencer, head of MCI Mortgage Club, said there had been a decline in mortgages at high LTV tiers as lenders attempt to manage issues with service levels caused by high demand. 

Recent figures from Moneyfacts showed the total number of available mortgage products had dropped from 5,222 mortgages in March to 2,259 in October. 

The same data also revealed the number of mortgage deals above 85 per cent LTV had more than halved to 329. 

Spencer said: “The high loan-to-value market is very limited at present and there are very few products available to help those that require a 90 per cent product to move home, remortgage or borrow additional money for home improvements or extensions.  

“If products do become available then they don’t hang around for long and you will see that they are typically here for 48 hours, which can be known as a ‘flash sale’.  

She added: “High street lenders are slowly working towards full capacity and are still hitting a record number of applications due this pandemic.   

“We have not seen lenders come back into this market at strength and we need more support in the industry to service these clients that require a high loan-to-value mortgage.  

However, figures from the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) found the second charge market had more than doubled from May to August this year and further growth is predicted for Q4.  

Matt Tristram, co-founder of Loans Warehouse, said: “Whilst some lenders have restricted product ranges on LTV, the biggest lenders in second charge lending continue to offer very competitive products right up to 100 per cent LTV. 

“With brokers struggling to find options for high LTV borrowers and a lack of early repayment charges (ERCs) on second charges can provide a valuable alternative for those looking to place such cases before the market fully recovers.” 


West One parent company Enra completes first securitisation

West One parent company Enra completes first securitisation


The transaction comprises a £267.8m portfolio held by West One Loans.  

For its initial securitisation called Elstree Funding No.1, Enra said it received substantial demand from pre-placement orders before the deal was publicly launched.  

As the group plans to come to market annually as a programmatic issuer, it has held back around £50m of bonds for public sale.

Its programmatic status will mean its bonds are certified from the first issuance, avoiding the need to go through the certification process for each bond, it said.

Overall, the deal was launched and priced within a week. 

Emily Gestetner, chief finance officer of Enra, said: “I am delighted to have priced Enra’s first securitisation 

In a matter of weeks, we have planned and executed a great transaction in challenging market conditions given the backdrop of the pandemic and Brexit. 

She added: While we are relatively recent entrants to the second charge and buy-to-let markets, our heritage as a specialist lender goes back many years, and I believe the fact we have been trading for over a decade as a prudent, well capitalised and profitable lending business was key to attracting such strong demand for our first residential mortgage backed securities deal.” 


Second charge begins rebound but remains half size of 2019 – FLA

Second charge begins rebound but remains half size of 2019 – FLA


In the three months to August there were 2,761 agreements which was an even steeper drop of 60 per cent year-on-year, the Finance and Leasing Association (FLA) found.

However, in the 12 months to August, the picture wasn’t as bleak – down 24 per cent compared to the 12 months to August 2019.

The value of new business for August came in at £43m, around 57 per cent lower than the same month in 2019.

Over the 12 months new business was valued at £898m – also 24 per cent lower year-on-year.

However, the market has picked up from lows seen a the height of the property market lockdown.

Fiona Hoyle, head of consumer and mortgage finance at the FLA (pictured), said: “While the second charge mortgage market remains subdued compared with pre-crisis levels, it is encouraging to see the number of new mortgages increase month-on-month since the record-low in May.

“Lenders are continuing to do all they can to support customers during this challenging period and customers experiencing payment difficulties should contact their lender as soon as possible.”


Pepper Money completes £629m securitisations

Pepper Money completes £629m securitisations


The first transaction was a £352m securitisation of specialist first charge residential and buy-to-let mortgages originated by Pepper Money.

This was followed by a £277m securitisation of second charge mortgages originated by Optimum Credit.

Both transactions attracted strong investor demand and were oversubscribed in a competitive market and uncertain economic environment, the lender said.

Pepper Money and Optimum Credit recently signalled increased lending appetites with the launch of enhanced products and criteria.

Laurence Morey, chief executive of Pepper Money (pictured), said: “The success of these securitisations is particularly pleasing given the completely unprecedented environment we have lived through in the last six months and the challenges faced by non-bank lenders.

“It is reassuring that there continues to be such strong investor demand for high-quality assets and this provides us with a solid foundation on which we can confidently continue to grow our first and second charge lending volumes.

“We will, of course, remain cognisant of the changing environment and maintain a robust and appropriate approach to underwriting, but we do so with an honest appetite to lend and a deep commitment to supporting our intermediary partners.

“I am confident that the challenges we have overcome will help us to establish a stronger sector that is better able to deliver the solutions that brokers need to meet the changing needs of a diverse group of borrowers.”


Registration to attend The British Specialist Lending Awards opens

Registration to attend The British Specialist Lending Awards opens


The awards will take place online at 4pm on Wednesday 28 October to unveil those most deserving of recognition in the specialist lending industry this year.

More than 4,000 nominations were received for the awards and the full shortlists for the 21 categories can be seen one the Specialist Lending Solutions website.

With continued government and health authority advice to maintain social distancing means it is not possible to deliver the British Specialist Lending Awards in person in October.

The welfare and safety of all guests, sponsors, suppliers and colleagues is the top priority and AE3Media and the Specialist Lending Solutions team therefore feels a virtual event is the most appropriate course of action in the current climate.

The online event will continue to showcase the glamour, glitz and the glory of the British Specialist Lending Awards and everyone is invited to join in the celebrations, all from the comfort of your own home.

The event will be streamed live with entertainment from musical comedy duo Flo & Joan, interactivity through a social media wall & chat function and lots more.

For more information visit:



Optimum Credit eases credit criteria and reintroduces near-prime seconds

Optimum Credit eases credit criteria and reintroduces near-prime seconds


On affordability, the lender is now able to accept up to 50 per cent of variable income including bonus, overtime and commission.

It has lifted restrictions on previous defaults, county court judgements (CCJs) and payday loans – returning this criteria to its pre-Covid-19 approach.

The lender has increased its maximum loan size to £1m and reintroduced its Near Prime range for customers whose credit profile falls just outside of its prime rates.

And it has made interest rate reductions across its entire pricing model and re-introduced options for variable rate, discounted rate and interest-only products.

Optimum Credit commercial director Simon Mules (pictured) said: “The last six months have been challenging for everyone and I would like to thank all of our intermediaries for their continued support.

“We hope that this launch is the start of a new chapter – it is certainly a statement of our intent to grow our lending volumes and continue to take a leading role in the second charge mortgage market.”


Second charges shunned by three-quarters of brokers – Brightstar

Second charges shunned by three-quarters of brokers – Brightstar


The specialist distributor undertook a study of more than 1,000 intermediaries, including independent financial advisers, directly authorised brokers and appointed representatives.

Some 26 per cent of brokers said they brought up second charge mortgages to borrowers in discussions about their purchase or remortgage or during the term of their product, leaving 74 per cent of intermediaries who do not highlight the option of a second charge.

The most common reason for not talking about second charge mortgages was not having enough time or that they had forgotton to do so.

Michelle Westley (pictured), head of marketing at Brightstar Financial, said: “It’s now more than four years since second charge mortgage lending came under the same umbrella of regulation as the first charge market and brokers have been required to consider second charges alongside other options for capital raising.

“So it’s astounding that so many brokers are still not having conversations about second charge lending with their clients.”

Westley said it was “widely anticipated” that the purchase market will slow down in 2021 with the amendment of Help to Buy and the end of the stamp duty holiday.

She said the second charge mortgage market was set for growth as demand increases from homeowners who want to release capital from their properties.

New second charge mortgage volumes dropped by 64 per cent year-on-year in July with 966 new agreements arranged, figures from the Finance and Leasing Association (FLA) showed.

The value of new business in the month reached £40m, a decline of 65 per cent compared to last year.

Month-on-month, however, both the volume and value of new secured lending increased by 48 per cent and 46 per cent respectively.


Changing behaviour and conversations needed for more inclusive advice process – Westley

Changing behaviour and conversations needed for more inclusive advice process – Westley


We asked how many of them mentioned to their clients that they offered second charge mortgages at the time they were working on the purchase or remortgage, or indeed at any point during the term of their product.

The result was startling, although perhaps unsurprising – 74 per cent admitted they did not talk about second charge mortgages at any stage.

It’s now more than four years since second charge mortgage lending came under regulation of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) alongside the first charge market, and brokers have been required to consider second charges alongside other options for capital raising.

So, the fact that three quarters of brokers do not mention second charges is certainly startling.

It’s not surprising, however, as this research merely supports the anecdotal evidence we hear, day in, day out.

A second charge mortgage will not be the right option for everyone, but it will be the right option for some, and if it is not being discussed, there will be some clients who end up with a product that is not the most suitable solution for their needs.

So, what is the answer?

The first response is to call for more education about second charge lending. This certainly has its place and there will always be opportunity to make brokers aware of the features and uses of a product they may not have previously realised.

However, the most common reason given by brokers for not talking about second charge mortgages was not that they didn’t have the right knowledge but that they did not have the time, or simply forgot.


Changing behaviours

It seems then, that if we are going to put second charge lending on a level playing field with the other options when it comes to capital raising, then it needs to be a case of changing behaviours.

Behavioural change does not happen overnight, or on its own, but it can be designed.

There is actually a joint research initiative between Cambridge University and Bristol University that studies how altering cues in our immediate physical environments can change behaviour.

This is sometimes known as choice architecture or nudging and it’s being studied with a view to promoting healthier lifestyles – but it can also promote healthier businesses.

Unless you are one of the 26 per cent of brokers who do talk about second charge mortgages, you could take this approach to changing behaviours in your business and promoting a more inclusive advice process.

It could be as simple as putting some prompts around the office or could include updating sales scripts or CRM systems.

Whatever approach you choose to take, it’s time to design a new conversation when it comes to second charge lending.


West One increases second charge LTVs to 75 per cent and ups loan size caps

West One increases second charge LTVs to 75 per cent and ups loan size caps


Maximum loans sizes have been raised to £500,000 on prime product ranges, and a new five-year fix has been added with early repayments charges to its Apex 1 range.

The lender will consider regular overtime and commission for non-key workers, where this is sustainable and in line with previous year’s earnings.

And on buy to let, loan sizes are to be increased to £250,000 as the lender reinstates pre-Covid lending criteria, which includes considering loans for ex-pats and licensed HMOs.

On residential, the lender will also consider workers returning from furlough. To be eligible, the borrower must return to work on full pay and pre-furlough hours. Borrowers exiting payment holidays will also be considered if they have made at least one full contractual mortgage payment.

Marie Grundy, sales director at West One Loans (pictured), said: “I am proud that West One has been able to play a significant role in ensuring that a wider range of borrowers can continue to access second charge finance throughout these uncertain times.

“At a time when mortgage intermediaries are working in more challenging circumstances, with particular regard to service and product availability, it is more important than ever that specialist finance products, such as second charges, are considered as part of the standard advice process to ensure borrowers needs are being met by the most appropriate product.”