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CFI: Commercial

The Dunkirk Spirit by

Rob Lankey, managing director, Commercial Mortgages, Aldermore

The first few weeks of a new year are usually characterised by a resurgence of energy and enthusiasm for the year ahead. And, with new targets to meet, lenders are normally lining up to announce new product and service initia- tives designed to give them a flying start. But not this year. The ab-

sence of initiatives from oth- er lenders is noticeable and a number of brokers have com- mented to me about just how quiet the market seems to be at the moment. There have been no breathtaking new product announcements; no changes to lending policies or pricing that are designed to set the market on fire. It really is a case of ‘more of the same’. This, I guess, shouldn’t

come as a surprise. The big banks are still more focussed on restructuring their bal- ance sheet than they are on lending and many financial institutions continue to be constrained by their ability to raise capital. Add to this the ongoing concerns about the health of the economy. At the time of writing, the Centre for Economics and Business Re- search had just announced that economic contraction in the fourth quarter last year, which is continuing into the first quarter of 2012, means that the UK is back in reces-

sion again. As a result the CEBR has slashed its growth forecast from 0.7% to a 0.4% fall. It has also warned that a worsening of the euro- zone crisis could hold back recovery for several years to come. No wonder that 2012 is unlikely to be a year charac- terised by dramatic develop- ments and bold new initia- tives.

Relationships However, a tentative and cau- tious start to the year doesn’t mean stagnation. As brokers know, a number of specialist financial institutions are will- ing to lend and, as the MD of one of them, I can confirm that our doors are open for business. But, in common with other prudent lenders, we’re only going to consider credit-worthy and well-pre- sented proposals. This underlies the con-

tinuing importance of bro- kers building strong work- ing relationships with those lenders with whom they deal on a regular basis. It is more important today than it has ever been previously, to un- derstand what is and what isn’t acceptable to specific lenders and for brokers to have a good working knowl- edge of different lenders’ credit policies and lending terms. It would have been naive

to think that 2012 was going to start with a bang and be a very different market to that of 2011. However, it is equally wrong to believe that noth- ing is happening and that the market is in a state of stagnation.

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