View more on these topics

Enterprise Finance’s Danny Waters defends West One deal


Enterprise and West One are now part of the same group structure.  That is certainly news and we are flattered by the volume of attention we have had since announcing the deal.

Partnerships like this are actually a well-trodden path already. Similar deals have worked in the second charge sphere and the secured loan market. Norton Finance, Central, and Ocean Secured Loans have all had similar relationships between a distributor and a lender. These were developed in-house rather than through acquisition of a lender, but the result was the same.

In the bridging industry the market is a little bigger when measured by gross lending, but in terms of the number of deals involved or relationships with introducers, this is not a revolutionary way of doing things.  Meanwhile, Octopus Capital’s acquisition of Dragonfly last year shows that deals involving bridging lenders are not alien either.

Given the number of players in the bridging industry and the steady pace of growth, some consolidation is inevitable. The only reason this precise combination was not possible via a takeover before is that distributors just were not well capitalised enough.

For our group of companies the deal with West One is definitely a new and exciting development – part of something bigger. But as a day-to-day business this does not change anything for Enterprise itself. Both firms will carry on working in just the same way, and with the same long-standing partners. West One’s introducers and packagers will not see the journey of their deals change at all.

I have spent the last decade building up Enterprise as a business based on our relationships. And we would not change that model, because it works.

West One Loans will be part of the extended family – but run separately by the best people to do the job. It is my job to focus at the group level, with West One at arm’s length. Last week some industry commentators rightly pointed out that this separation is necessary. And Mortgage Strategy’s most recent Bridgingwatch, Positive Lending’s Chris Fairfax says that he would be concerned about any cross-selling. We agree – and that is why West One will retain its completely different management team, led by Duncan Kreeger and Stephen Wasserman.

For those that want to work with us, we will naturally respect every ethical boundary and continue to enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship. But for those that don’t, we will continue to compete with them aggressively, as we always have done – and as any business would.

We are not doing the deal to change the way either West One Loans or Enterprise Finance operate. It is so that both companies have the opportunity to grow even faster in future. In fact, reading Mr Fairfax’s piece reminded me of when Chris told me two years ago that we could never sell a distribution business, and that any business based on people is impossible to value. People who do not want to be bold can think that, but it is just not true. I am more optimistic than that.

Gross bridging lending is still seeing 24 per cent annual growth, according to the latest West One bridging index. But such a rate is steadying over the long term. Far more important is the culture of modern players like West One and Enterprise. At both companies we are actively driving that maturity and professionalism. Enterprise is fully FCA regulated and has an unblemished record in compliance.  In fact, we were amongst the first to embrace regulation. Continued growth is good news, but it is going hand in hand with other changes for the better, as the classic bridging lenders of the past gradually change into a new modern industry.

Looking ahead, short-term secured lending is a mine of opportunity. Figures from the West One broker sentiment survey show that brokers think gross bridging lending will soon hit the £3bn mark in 2015, having gradually consolidated lending at over £2bn per year earlier this year.

In our own distinct ways, and separately, Enterprise and West One will both be helping to push that total even further upwards in the next 12 months. For both companies, our growth will always mean growth for our partners and commercial relationships.



Precise Mortgages overhauls self-employed criteria

Precise Mortgages has overhauled its self-employed criteria and will now lend if the borrower has just one year’s certified accounts or SA302. Previously, the business must have been trading for a minimum of two years and have the latest trading accounts for loans up to 75 per cent LTV and trading for minimum of three […]


FCA talks on MMR and EU loan directive at Expo

The FCA will address the Financial Services Expo London over two days later this month, discussing the implementation of the MMR and the latest phase of the EU mortgage credit directive. FCA mortgage policy manager Lynda Blackwell will address the Expo on day one, covering the Mortgage Market Review implementation and the effect so far […]


Regulator would like the power to tap telephones, says Wheatley

FCA chief executive Martin Wheatley has suggested the regulator should be given powers to use surveillance and wire tapping in its investigations. In a Treasury select committee hearing last week, Wheatley was asked by Labour MP John Mann if there were any powers the regulator wanted that Parliament has not yet given it. Wheatley said: “There […]


Analysis: Get smart with business systems

Mortgage advisers can be divided into three types: smart business creators, business managers or traditionalists. Business managers develop their own in-house point-of-sale IT system. This can be quick and cheap but it rarely integrates the whole business process and the system starts to age from the point of development.  Traditionalists are held back by paper-based, […]

China: growth defence or another debt-fuelled boom?

By Douglas Turnbull, Head of Chinese Equities at Neptune Following recent stimulus efforts from Beijing, Neptune’s Douglas Turnbull examines how the government’s long-term reform agenda can be balanced with supporting growth and addressing structural challenges, and the investment opportunities arising from this.Click here to read more Important information: Investment Risks Neptune funds may have a […]


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up