Secured loan lender Prestige Finance has had a busy few months after being acquired by OneSavings Bank plc in September 2012.
Simon Stern, director of Prestige Finance, speaks to Loan Introducer about his business, the industry and who he would most like to be stuck on a desert island with.
Q, How has being bought by OneSavings Bank changed your business?
A, In terms of the business we are now writing, completely, as we are now in the prime market whereas previously it was the adverse market. This is reflected in the lending rates we now offer starting at just 6.5%. We also have access to substantial lower cost funding. In terms of how the business is run, it is the same Prestige, same team but with the considerable support of a regulated bank.
Q, In an ideal world, what products would you like to see yourself or somebody else launch into the secured loan market?
A, There is no such thing as an ideal world and especially in the secured loan market. However, given where the market was just a year ago and where it is now, I think lenders are making every effort to lend and given the impending regulatory changes, we have to ensure consumers are being offered the right product at the right price.
Q, How do you predict the secured loan market will change in the next twelve months?
A, My main prediction is that I believe the market will continue to grow. Regulation could have an impact on some companies and I am hopeful more introducers will understand the benefits of a secured loan and therefore offer it as a mainstream product.
Q, Do you think regulation from the Financial Conduct Authority will be good or bad for the industry?
A, It is still too early to say whether regulation FCA will be good or bad for the industry. It will though undoubtedly focus the minds of both brokers and lenders in the coming months once we get to see first sight of the rules. It is my hope that formal FCA regulation might help create a level compliance playing field and encourage more brokers to accept the legitimacy of secured loans.
Q, Do you anticipate more lenders entering the sector in the next twelve months?
A, If the rumours are to be believed yes. What is probably more interesting though, is where in the market they will be trying to get market share.
Q, Do you think the secured loan sector still has a stigma attached to it?
A, Very much depends to whom you are posing that question. In my opinion there is no justification in anyone attaching a stigma to the market and especially the current one. It is only those that talk about the so called dark days but people very conveniently forget it was a huge market with many consumers benefitting from the loans they took out.
Q, Who has been the most inspirational person in your career and why?
A, I don’t think it’s fair to name just one person who has inspired me in my career. I have met so many influential people in my 28 years of working in the finance industry and prior to that in the retail sector. I was privileged to have known David Johnson for over 25 years and was deeply saddened by his passing away recently. He was a true friend to both me and our company as well as being a huge influence on the secured loan industry. However, I will always be grateful to my partner and closest friend Howard Sheldon who came to my house in 1984 and talked to me about the family business that I knew nothing about. Almost 29 years later, I am still working in that business and our friendship and trust in each other and our other partner, my brother David, is still very much intact.
Q, If you could be stuck on a desert island with three people, who would they be and why?
A, My wife Maddie-as she remains both the love of my life and I can do so little without her. Dawn French-if for no other reason, we would be laughing for so much of the time we were stuck. Dennis Bergkamp-he was my idol and remains my idol and the best footballer I have ever had the privilege of watching. Whilst the girls would do their thing, I would just talk football with Dennis.
Q, What is the one thing you could not live without and why?
A, Easy one-again my wife. Too many reasons as to why but if it was a material thing than sadly it would probably be Sky TV.