As featured in Bridging Introducer
You can almost picture it…it’s April 2006, the doors to Bridgebank Capital have opened for the first time and high hopes, dreams and aspirations are clearly in the air. A suite of expos, interviews, meetings and promotions are planned to create a ‘buzz’ around the brand and get that all important first (of many!) loans completed. This first landmark would arrive only weeks later, in the form of a £55,000 completion. – The first step on the road to success.
Following a successful first year of trading, with more loans completing and the brand becoming a recognised name in a competitive sector; all supporting a marked step towards the achievement of the objectives set out in the five year business plan, times were about to change.
At this point, I would like nothing more than to say that these changes were positive and it was all ‘plain sailing’ through to 2016, but with the arrival of the credit crunch in 2008 that was certainly not the case.
As the Credit Crunch hit, the whole financial services world changed in unprecedented ways, and Bridgebank Capital did not go untouched. The success of the previous two years had created a foundation and lending ethos that we were proud to have adopted, and which would remain the basis for persevering and surviving the challenging years ahead.
For the following four years, Bridgebank Capital played a survival game, securing small funding lines and significantly reducing its operating costs. Sadly, this meant the departure of some of the initial personnel and meant that the ‘blue sky plans’ of 2006 were put on hold…But unlike some of our competitors, it allowed survival.
Whilst these years were challenging for the sector, there were some positive outcomes that we were proud to be part of, including the establishment of the Association of Short Term Lenders (ASTL) in April 2008. It was agreed between those operating in the sector, that there was a requirement for a trade body, with the objective of legitimising and improving the professional standing and perception of the short term finance market, and hence the ASTL was formed with a suite of principles and values for those operating in the sector to adhere to.
A New Chapter
Having weathered the turbulent times and survived to tell the tale, 2013 marked the start of a new chapter for Bridgebank Capital, as we underwent forensic due diligence and successfully secured a new funding line with our current investment partners.
Whilst the funding available to Bridgebank Capital is significant, and the opportunity and potential for growth is extensive, the initial growth achieved was slower than initially anticipated as together we underwent a learning process.
With greater experience achieved and some key lessons learnt, we worked with our investment partners to enhance our offering in 2014, with the launch of our dedicated large loans brand, Quantum by Bridgebank Capital. – A venture that has enabled us to grow our loan book in the £1 million+ lending space.
Changes Along the Way
The short term finance market has certainly changed since that first day back in 2006, and we have grown and adapted with it.
From ‘tweaks’ to our underwriting parameters, alterations to our lending criteria and changes to our risk appetite, the Bridgebank Capital Group today is a far reach from the lender established on day one. Whilst our principles, customer centric approach and responsible lending ethos have not faltered, we have adapted and grown as a lender.
Having worked hard to live through the challenging times and achieve the short term targets set for ourselves, we are proud to have become a long standing, established member of the short term finance market as it stands today; a respected and essential aspect of the property finance world.
There is however still aspiration to grow and ‘catch up’ with some of our respected competitors, which will be achieved with the same steady and sensible approach to growth as has always been adopted, combined with a high level of attention to risk and underwriting. – The Bridgebank Capital Board of Directors has not and will not adopt a policy of chasing loan book growth with high risk exposure.
In the niche sector in which we operate, finding and retaining high quality, knowledgeable personnel in some aspects of the business can be challenging. Whilst this is the case, we include some of those involved from the ‘early days’ within our core employees, including Operations Director, Andrea Tickle and Sales Director, Carl Graham who have both progressed within the company and been pivotal to the ongoing successful growth and material development of the organisation.
We have now also established a robust team of professional Business Development Managers to support the creation and continued development of introducer relationships in an effective and productive manner.
Whilst we pride ourselves on acting with professionalism, commitment and a customer focused approach, we recognise the need for fun along the way. – Work hard, play hard is certainly the culture of the team.
Celebrating and thanking those introducers who have supported us and worked closely with us is also a priority, and we have in recent years arranged celebrations in the form of a Thames Cruise and Manchester Canal Cruise (doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?) to celebrate our joint commitment and success.
10th Anniversary – The Milestone
With our 10th anniversary date looming, it is certainly a time to look back and reflect…the last 10 years have been challenging for Bridgebank and the sector, but alongside the challenging years, there have been memorable occasions and celebrations.
Whilst in the early years of 2008, like all lenders, we had to reassess our position, and accept that market growth would be ‘on hold’, we have now progressed to a position of strength where we can once again fully start to explore our growth aspirations and strategy. – The future once again looks promising.
As a company, we now look forward to celebrating our 10th anniversary with those introducers who have contributed to our success, and continue to support us in our business objectives. The hard work and commitment is definitely ongoing, but we look forward to celebrating our next milestone and in true Bridgebank Capital style, celebrating this occasion.