The industry still lacks a definitive index of exactly how much it is growing by but the strong datasets emerging from lenders and packagers alike suggest that loan volumes have risen considerably this year.
It’s unlikely this will stop in 2013, either.
The high street lenders remain acutely cautious and figures released this week from the Bank of England show that the Funding for Lending Scheme has got off to a shaky start — and there’s every reason to believe it will remain shaky next year.
So, as we enter 2013, the fate of alternative finance providers is very much in their own hands.
For me a key development this year, and one which will be decisive next year, was the FSA’squestioning of whether retained interest is compliant with MCOB (Mortgage Conduct of Business) regulation.
Essentially, the FSA believes that there are instances in the past when regulated lenders have not properly explained the retained interest calculation method to borrowers.
Some have suggested this is a negative development, and is the FSA cracking down on a sector that cannot be trusted, but for me it is all about the regulator taking far greater interest in our sector for the simple reason that it is now so much bigger — and more mainstream.
As I see it, the FSA’s focus on retained interest should be a cue for the industry to get its house in order.
For the bridging sector to reach its full potential, it needs lenders and brokers that are in it for the long term, and committed to changing the sector from what it used to be to what they want it to be: above-board, transparent, trustworthy and focused on the end-borrower, not their own financial gain.
If we want the sector to grow, then we have to accept that we will be in the spotlight more and more. But that’s part and parcel of success.
In summary, 2013 could be the year when our industry reaches its full potential and formally ‘arrives’, or it could be the year when it comes close but ultimately fails to deliver.
I know which of the two I want it to be.