Development Finance Today sat down with Lending Director Scott Marshall to discuss all things Roma Finance
Roma Finance and its string of high profile completions in 2015.
- Question: What was your past experience before launching Roma Finance?
Answer: I have worked in financial services for the past 15 years. I have worked in CorporateFinance at Andersen in Manchester and I worked at Lancashire Mortgage Corporation for 6 years becoming Credit & Risk Director.
- Question: Did you always want to work in finance?
Answer: No. My degree was in Manufacturing Engineering with Spanish but after spending 3 years inindustry, I quickly realised an understanding of finance was critical to being a success in business, so Idecided to retrain as an accountant. I was offered a position in Corporate Finance rather than auditat Andersens so my hopes of becoming an accountant never materialised.
- Question: What exciting plans does Roma Finance have in 2015?
Answer: This year we intend to develop our service offering by recruiting new Lending Managers and increasing our brand profile through attending events and contributing to the industry discussions through the media and organisations like the ASTL which we joined recently. Also, the propertymarket looks like it will be strong for a number of years yet, and there will be continued demand for rental property and for a lender such as ourselves, that means property investors and developers will be looking for finance to renovate property or change its use to buy to let. The upcoming changes to pension regulation in April, may also boost this type of lending and we are well placed to rake advantage of such opportunities. We’re constantly reviewing the market to see what trends are out there in terms of property lending, renovation and the rental sector. That give us a good platform to position our service and products for the future.
- Question: How has Roma Finance grown since establishing in 2008?
Answer: Initially we only provided sub-contract underwriting services for a number of other bridging lenders including Drawbridge (now Dragonfly). Our first loan wasn’t until December 2010 (a 5 year securedloan) and our first bridging loan was completed in April 2011. We’ve grown tremendously sincethen, but obviously you have to look at the economic situation back in 2008. All lenders, both HighStreet and specialist, were caught in the turmoil of the credit crunch and this put a severe pressure on market liquidity. So you could say not a great time to start a lending business! But actually it was fine, as we had a steady funding line and demand from brokers and their borrowers was still high, just that a lot of their traditional routes to property finance were closed to them. We fulfilled a niche role and grew the business steadily through the first few years. As the market has recovered in the last eighteen months or so, our business model, underwriting and processes had already evolved to take in to account the real growth we are now experiencing; both for our business and the bridging and property sectors generally.
- Question: What was the main reason for launching a charter and how has it helped introduce business since its implementation?
Answer: As we improved our brand and enhanced our service proposition to introducers, it seemed a logical step to document our business ethos. Having worked closely with many brokers over theyears, we’ve provided most types of property bridging finance and solved many issues that havearisen along the way whilst delivering a high level of service.To assist our partners further we felt it would be useful to set out our way of working to give extra clarity and confidence to our regular introducers as well as new brokers and their borrower. Having built up terrific working relationships with many firms in the bridging sector, defining our service in a Charter is a great way to acknowledge the importance of these relationships and to clearly state how seriously we strive to achieve business goals.
- Question: If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?