I am old enough to remember when there was a separate, small commercial mortgage exhibition strictly for professionals, it attracted few residential mortgage brokers.
The breakthrough came when the organisers ran that exhibition alongside the residential show. I remember how the staid commercial displays upstairs at Olympia compared with the razzmatazz of the residential exhibition downstairs. But we saw a good number of visitors venturing upstairs, and began to get them interested in commercial mortgages. The following year saw the two exhibitions merge into what we know today.
So what of this year’s Expo? There were a record 5,822 visitors and it certainly felt busy on our stand. The awareness of the commercial mortgage opportunity is growing among brokers.
Yet again there were a number of commercial mortgage brokers exhibiting for the first time, in some cases obviously prepared to invest heavily in marketing to try to gain market share.
On the lender front, the Derbyshire made a big splash with its Salt Commercial offering although I was disappointed the motorbikes on the stand were not free gifts.
The Commercial First stand was as busy as ever (nothing to do with the tequila shots it offered, I’m sure) and InterBay again had a big presence. Among niche lenders, Peninsula Finance exhibited for the first time.
Again there were a substantial number of bridging lenders, testament to the sector’s growth. And we must not forget the enigma that is 5D, the commercial lender that has been threatening to launch for a while. It had a high profile with its sponsorship efforts but there was a lack of representatives to talk to. Let’s hope it’s worth waiting for.
All in all, the Mortgage Business Expos have had a positive effect on the market, particularly the London event.
The jury is still out on the Manchester event, where numbers are much lower and there is a danger that exhibitors will pull out. The Scotland Expo is still in its infancy but the concept is excellent. Long may it continue.
andy young is managing director of The Business Mortgage Company