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One of our competitors has recently changed the term bridging finance to opportunity finance. Presumably, the term opportunity would imply that there is some benefit to the customer.

Our competitor appears to be a slick operation – on the day after you call you’ll get a visit and during this visit an assessment of your business will be carried out to find out whether it can pay the interest. Your property will then be quickly valued by their own valuer. Paperwork will quickly be prepared showing you the charges. Before moving on to this I’ll set out the postion our customers were in.

Mr and Mrs R were based in Ceredigion, where Mr R had farmed for years under a secured tenancy arrangement going back three generations. When the owner of the property offered it to them for sale,  the existence of the tenancy created a very large discount. Obviously this level of discount was very attractive.

Let’s now compare our approach to that of our competitor.

Our competitor had already been out and seen the customers and presented its assessment and figures. This proposed that the customers were going to repay the loan through refinance and sale and leaseback but if not through disposal. The fees and costs included monitoring charges, lender’s legal fees of nearly £10,000 , exit fees etc etc – the list went on………and on. Repayment was suggested in month 6. There was no information about what any refinance or sale and leaseback terms were likely to be.

Now our approach – firstly we were much more relaxed. Whilst it appears terribly efficient to turn up next day and carry out wonderful calculations it is meaningless unless the interest of the customers is at the heart of your ethos about ‘opportunity’ finance. What was blatantly obvious here was that any sort of refinance, at any meaningful level, was not going to happen. As for sale and leaseback, those schemes that we have looked at are (not surprisingly) stacked in the investors’ favour. Accordingly, we told our would be customers, that refinance of any sort was not really an option and that their opportunity was to sell the property and turn their discount into cash. And now comes the best part; our numbers showed savings over six months of nearly £41,000 and over twelve months nearly £76,000. The twelve months figure was based upon an assumption that our competitor would extend its loan beyond six months – the question being how six months could ever be enough?

Our customers were thoroughly decent folk who needed some expertise to do something that they wanted to do – no customers deserve to be put in a position where they might well have their legs lifted and our customers decided to do business with us – we hasten to add that we do not openly denigrate our competition with customers because we let our own numbers and service do the talking but now, after the event, we can share our experience in the hope that we can save our future customers more money and perhaps heartache. In short, we worked at a pace to suit our customers and took much of the heat out of the transaction for them. Now I am not saying that our competitor does not offer the service – as said they are, prima facie, slick and quick and you might ask why this is so for which the reasons should be clear when considering the savings we created.

At the end of the day people pay their money and take their chance but when it comes to bridging finance or ‘opportunity’ finance (call it what you will), why take a bigger chance than necessary? Or put another way, why make your opportunity someone else’s?

We believe that entering into bridging finance for a farm or anything else, is not an undertaking to be considered lightly and should be considered carefully. Our ethos is to always focus on the interests of our customers as the priority. It’s really down to old fashioned service, but with the right level of integrity born out of our professional background. It’s the sort of background that we find our customers can rely on but don’t just take our word for it – our main website has many a testimonial, one of the most recent being from Mr and Mrs R themselves who said ‘Many thanks for everything.’

Can’t say fairer than that.

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