With secured loan lending set to hit £480m in 2013, there seems to be no holding the market back at the moment.
Tim Wheeldon, managing director of Fluent Money – the UK’s largest secured loan brokerage – talks to Loan Introducer about why he thinks the market and his business are doing so well.
Q, Fluent Money reported lending of £7m in October, is this a record month for you?
A, Yes it is – and in fact, our final calculation was actually £7.8m, so we’ve smashed our own expectations. 2013 will be our record year, so we’re looking forward to gathering our results next month.
Q, Why do you think things are picking up so much in the secured loan market?
A, 2013 has witnessed growth in the secured loans industry, mainly due to a greater appetite among our lenders. This has created increased competition in the market and resulted in a wider and more inclusive product range, allowing us to offer loans to more customers.
There have also been a couple of new entrants into our sector, which has further boosted confidence in the industry. Coupled with a more stable housing market and property price increases, customer confidence has also been on the up.
Q, Do you estimate that you are the UK’s largest secured loan broker?
A, We are the largest – we account for between 20 and 25% of the loans completed in the secured loans sector per month. We also package twice the volume of our nearest competitor, which places us in a strong position. We’re extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished this year, having developed a wide scope of influence from our base in Bolton, and we look forward to maintaining our standard of service throughout 2014.
Q, Do you have any concerns about the market at present?
A, As the last few years of recession and inflation have taught us, it never pays to be complacent. Although house prices look set to go up, this brings with it the potential for a housing bubble. For this reason we always try to remain cautious as well as confident when looking at upcoming developments in the UK economy, and are always sure to advise our customers responsibly.
Q, Is the current shortage of valuers hampering your business?
A, There are undoubtedly certain hotspots in different areas and at certain times of the month, but I wouldn’t say that the shortage in valuers is having too much of a negative impact on business. This is largely due to the proactive approach from lenders in providing drive by and desktop evaluations on a wider percentage of products in order to alleviate some of the pressure.
Q, In an ideal world, what would be the perfect secured loan product a lender could offer?
A, I think that it would be putting the ‘If Carlsberg did banks’ model into practice –
Customer: “I’d like to borrow £50,000 please.”
Banker: “Take £75,000 just in case, and pay me back whenever.”
… We can dream!
Q, Who has had the biggest influence on your career and why?
A, It would have to be Philip George, now the managing director at Shawbrook Bank, who I’ve known since 1989. I worked for him at First National, where I learnt the skills that would lay the groundwork for my success with Fluent Money. As a person Philip is just the consummate gentleman and professional who knows how to command respect, so he’s been a great influence on my career and the way I conduct myself professionally.
Q, What one item could you not live without?
A, Nowadays it would have to be my iPad, they really do justify the hype that surrounds them. Mine is brilliant for day-to-day business so I’d be lost without it.
Q, If you could be stranded on a desert island with three people, who would it be and why?
A, Stephen Fry, Ayrton Senna and Johnny Depp – I’d want some good company and I think all three would have some great stories up their sleeves.