Marking the NACFB’s 20th anniversary, the eagerly anticipated National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers Expo, held at the NEC in Birmingham yesterday, was a huge success and did not fail to deliver.
The Expo had 73 exhibitors on the day and on arrival we were informed that over 900 brokers had signed up to attend in advance. The doors opened at 09.30am when hundreds of brokers, financial advisers and service providers swarmed in to visit the stands.
The B&C stand was visited by many financial intermediaries wanting to get more involved within the bridging and commercial markets, taking the opportunity to become part of the only educational portal dedicated to this very sector.
It was an event where things got done, not because of the quality of exhibitors, but due to the level of serious brokers. There was a real buzz in the room with exhibitors and brokers attaining new contacts, finding solutions to problematic client cases and, as a result, writing millions of pounds in leads.
Adam Tyler, CEO of the NACFB, kicked off the day by making a number of announcements, which included:
- The NACFB’s Head Office relocating to London from its existing premises in Exeter by autumn of this year;
- A new and more fit-for-purpose website with new features, “bringing it up to date and into the 21st century”;
- A lead generation system which will be implemented on the new website (broker members to attain 75 per cent commissions);
- A bigger onus on training and education. A new training device on the website will launch next week called “Moodle”;
- All members to go through anti-money laundering and data protection training bi-annually;
- The creation and introduction of an obligatory commercial broker qualification – Certificate in Business Banking and Conduct – for existing and new members to take an exam for. Created by the Institute of Financial Services, with the input of the NACFB and high street banks, it is the equivalent of a CeMAP 3. It will raise the professionalism of the members.
The presentations highlighted that there isn’t enough clarity about alternative finance and it is a key opportunity for brokers to educate borrowers about it.
Alan Cleary, MD at Precise Mortgages, spoke about the opportunity with the funding problem and stated that the company is funded by a $20 billion investment fund. Precise has been asked to double its lending levels over the next 12 months and will begin this campaign by revealing details of new unique BTL products next week.
Summing up the day, Stephen Johnson, New Business Director at Shawbrook Bank, said: “The day highlighted that alternative lenders are here and we are helping to fill the vast lending gap. There are more quality clients going to alternative lenders now, so it’s a golden window and unique opportunity not just for us as a lender, but also for the commercial broker to fully utilise alternative finance for their clients.
“The NACFB is having an increasingly important part to play in regards to lobbying and the plans announced today are testament to that. The move to London, the new IFS qualification for members to pass, which will enhance professional standards, and how the NACFB is looking at streamlining introductions between its members and lenders are all evidence the association is moving onwards and upwards. It’s a transformational period for the trade body striving for quality and today’s expo was invaluable.”
James Bloom, Chief Executive at Regentsmead, commented: “It’s been a very busy day with many good enquiries by proper commercial brokers. There were a lot more brokers this year, which is a sign of an improving market and the vital part that alternative niche lenders are now playing in the absence of mainstream banking funding.”
Alan Margolis, Head of Bridging at United Trust Bank, stated: “It was a very successful day and we met plenty of serious brokers. It was worthwhile and very important to be here, a sentiment shared by all those we spoke to.”
B&C also asked a number of brokers for their views. Gary Scottorn, Director at Ensign Mortgages & Investments Limited, stated: “The Expo has enabled us to see that there are alternative solutions out there for SME funding, as opposed to the traditional banking sector. It has opened our eyes up to even more opportunity and has ultimately allowed us to help our clients out with the funding they wouldn’t be able to obtain through the high street banks.”
Ambrish Kumar Agarwal, MD & Principal Consultant at Esteema Financial Solutions Limited, said: “Today was a very good show. There are even more lenders here than last year and a bigger presentation from the bridging and invoice finance sectors. I’ve gained some great product information which has enabled me to solve some problems with cases that have been on-going for two or three months now. Here we’ve found the right kinds of people to talk to; speaking direct with underwriters has really helped to solve the deals we’ve been struggling with.”
The Expo emphasised that there is a real alternative to high street banks for SMEs and it was a huge success. It called out for the brokers to support the non-traditional lenders as they are becoming more well-known, utilised and, some might say, more mainstream.
The NACFB must be commended for further enhancing the direction and strength of the association. Adam in particular must be commended with his constant drive and work with other trade bodies and lobbying of Parliamentary Groups, MPs, the FSA, Bank of England to name but a few.
The next 12 months will be an exciting one for the NACFB and its members and B&C look forward to reporting on the future developments every step of the way with eager anticipation.