Expansion into Scotland, plans to accelerate lending across the UK and launch the Property Development Academy outside London – along with a talent for juggling
LendInvest began lending in Scotland in the summer. How has the expansion gone so far?
We’ve been officially up and running in Scotland for a little over four months and business is going well. We’ve closed a number of deals and have a healthy pipeline of opportunities.
We always planned to focus mostly on the central belt between Edinburgh and Glasgow and that’s where we’ve seen the most activity so far; but there have also been some interesting deals as far away as Aberdeen and Inverness.
It’s good to see our profile growing in Scotland. Our Scottish BDM, Peter McDermid, is working hard but it’s paying off.
We were always confident that Scotland was a good destination for our first ‘office’ out of London. The market is undersupplied for short-term mortgages and small-scale development finance. The housing situation is no less desperate than in England and Wales. There are too few houses in Scotland, so supporting SME developers to get more houses built is a good thing.
We’ve also just launched in northern England and have appointed Damien Druce to lead our efforts there. He’s based in Greater Manchester but has a great network and we’re already looking at options across that whole region as well as Merseyside and Yorkshire. It’ll be a busy few months there.
What was the firm’s biggest challenge in 2016?
We set ourselves a challenge at the start of 2016 to provide excellent products to our broker network. That’s meant constantly devising and adapting our products to ensure they are really competitive. It’s meant a huge investment of time, effort and late nights, but we’re delighted with the results and the reception.
We have a good stream of product developments hitting the market now, and a pipeline of more for the new year.
Is there a particular ambition you’d like LendInvest to achieve in 2017?
I want 2017 to be the year when we really accelerate our lending throughout the country.
We’re making good progress – having made loans in 120 towns and cities to date – but there’s a lot more to achieve and Peter and Damien are well placed to help that happen.
I also want our Property Development Academy to launch outside London, helping aspiring developers to gain skills anywhere in the UK.
How long have you been in your current role and where were you previously?
As a co-founder of both LendInvest and its predecessor, Montello, I’ve been in this role since day one. Christian Faes and I launched Montello in 2008. It’s been a good eight years and we’ve learnt an awful lot.
Before that, I worked in property investment and development at Ballymore and Segro.
If you had not chosen this career path, what else would you have liked to do?
I’d probably have been a property developer.
Who is your all-time hero, and why?
Sir Winston Churchill. He wasn’t afraid to make some big decisions and back his own judgement.
Do you have any secret talents?
I can juggle.
What do you do in your spare time?
Renovations to a house we bought in the summer.
What is the best advice you have received?
Work hard and make sure you continually seek out opportunity.
If you were chancellor for a day, what would be your priorities?
Cut stamp duty rates and remove stamp duty for downsizers so people pay only on the way up the ladder. Cut corporation tax and make sure immigration cuts don’t stifle growth.
- Year established: First as Montello in 2008, then as LendInvest in 2013
- Headcount: 115
- Address: Two Fitzroy Place, 8 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JJ
- Tel: 020 7118 1900
LendInvest is the UK’s first online mortgage lender, spun out of Montello Bridging Finance in 2013.
We aim to bring the speed, efficiency and transparency of online lending to the mortgage market.
We have originated over £775m of loans on terms lasting one month to three years, making us one of the most active short- to medium-term mortgage lenders in the UK.