We're in good shape! ASTL chief Hersch says bridging sector in fine fettle after annual conference

The ASTLBridging Finance

Benson Hersch, chief executive of the Association of Short Term Lenders’ (ASTL), says the general consensus from the organisation's recent conference is that the bridging sector is in fine fettle.

The ASTL's annual conference focused on the themes of uncertainty and caution as the speakers assessed the impact of Brexit on the bridging world.

Mr Hersch said: “Once again our conference was packed with interesting sector, political and economic insight from our expert speakers. While the discussion was wide ranging, the general consensus was that the bridging sector is in good shape.

“However, with uncertainty continuing to dominate the economy and a number of challenges on the horizon, lenders and brokers will need to adapt to the ever-changing environment.”

“While the discussion was wide ranging, the general consensus was that the bridging sector is in good shape."

At the conference, the first speaker, Faisal Choudhry of Savills provided his outlook on the UK property market and acknowledged that the “market will be difficult over the next few years”.

And Mr Choudhry also highlighted that buy-to-let investors face a number of challenges due to increased mortgage regulation, which is likely to impact portfolio landlords due to higher stamp duty and restrictions on tax relief on interest payments.

Lorna O’Brien offered the FCA’s viewpoint on the bridging sector and said that although the regulator could only comment on regulated deals in the market, the outlook was one that was generally positive. She added that bridging finance had “come a long way” but did say that the bridging sector could be impacted by any slowdown in the buy-to-let sector.

Meanwhile, Rob Lankey, the former NACFB interim CEO, showed he has extensive knowledge of the banking and property finance market and suggested that communication needed to improve among brokers and lenders.

Other highlights saw Michael Booth QC give his analysis on the world of fraud and highlighted that vigilance was always important and no one should be above suspicion.

Peter Andrews, the local agent of the Bank of England, contributed an off-the-record briefing on the economic outlook based on the Monetary Policy Committee’s latest inflation report.

The political editor of the Sunday Times, Tim Shipman, brought the curtain down on the conference by highlighting the political turmoil currently dominating Brexit negotiations.

Speaking following his appointment to the position, in August, and of the new committee, Mr Hersch said: “I am confident that the new executive committee will continue to work to raise standards within the ASTL and its wider membership, while also increasing awareness of the value of bridging and the short term secured lending market.

“I would like to say a special thank you to Jonathan Sealey, CEO of Hope Capital, and Jon Hall, managing director at Masthaven, who have served on the committee for the past two years. Their continued commitment and support has helped the association to grow to record membership levels.”

The membership currently stands at 37 members and 30 associate members the highest it has ever achieved.

Ryan Ewen is the Commercial Director of FMG - a leading digital marketing company specialising in finance, sport and news.

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