One to One: Darius Shekarrizi, senior relationship manager, First 4 Bridging

Darius Pic

How familiarity with lenders speeds up the process, managing the growing demand for bridging loans and the importance of a strong work ethic

What new developments can brokers expect from First 4 Bridging over the coming year?

We are looking to expand our panel of lenders, although, saying that, we tend to believe that less is more in the bridging space. We have great relationships with a select number of lenders that cover pretty much every deal we send their way, in terms of size, geography and type of loan. This familiarity really helps speed up the lending process, which is what it is all about.

But the number of lenders has grown a lot in the past 12 months or so and, while we will not spread ourselves thin, a few lenders have caught our eye and we are currently in discussions with them. We are also looking to get in front of a lot more brokers, more regularly. To this end, we are on a major recruitment drive, with a focus on relationship managers and other broker-facing roles.

And last, we are looking to further streamline our systems to reduce even more the time to completion.

What hurdles and opportunities does the bridging sector face over the next 12 months?

Regulation will almost certainly be one hurdle in 2016 but then, to an extent, when wasn’t it?

Make no mistake – we are 100 per cent behind raising standards in the industry and getting it shipshape on the regulatory front, but at the same time this is a sector where speed and quick turnarounds are integral to what we do. The worry is that too much regulation and red tape could adversely affect not just brokers but, more importantly, their clients. I hope the right balance can be struck but that is something we will only know in time.

Another potential hurdle is the sheer number of lenders there are at the moment. Clearly there are benefits to having lots of lenders, specifically the choice, product diversity and competition on rates that come hand in hand with it. What we have to ensure does not happen, of course, is that standards gradually start to slip.

In terms of opportunities, I think the main one is managing the growing demand for bridging loans. People are becoming a lot more comfortable with alternative forms of finance and bridging is doing very well on the back of that.

In terms of sub-sectors, development finance is an especially large opportunity. Small and medium-sized developers are highly active at the moment and bridging finance has a key role to play in this area of the market.

If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?

Hand on heart and corny as it sounds, I would not change anything because no two days are the same and that really does keep me interested despite the long hours and hectic work schedule. It helps that I genuinely enjoy talking to brokers and get a real buzz when deals complete and we have helped them solve problems for their clients.

OK, there is one thing I would change: maybe I could have a Porsche 911 as a company car. But I am not sure that will happen just yet.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

In terms of the work I do at First 4 Bridging, it is simple enough: always value the introducer and the fact that they have used our services. For a broker to place trust in us to help their client is a responsibility that we take very seriously.

Who is your all-time hero and why?

My dad. He has shown me how important it is to have a strong work ethic and drummed it into me from an early age that anything is possible if you want it badly enough.

If you were not in your current role, what would you like to be doing?

I love my current role. However, if I had to choose something else to do, I would probably be serving cocktails somewhere in the Caribbean – or at least running the hotel that is serving the great cocktails. Suffice to say, I like the sun – and the odd cocktail never hurts, either.

Do you have any secret talents?

If I told you, they would not be secret any more. Sorry.

COMPANY PROFILE

Address: Atrium Court, The Ring
Bracknell
Berkshire RG12 1BW
Tel: 01344 567767

HISTORY
First 4 Bridging has been an established bridging loans packager for over 15 years.

It has close relationships with most major lenders in the sector and has packaged thousands of loans since launch. In all cases, First 4 Bridging is able to provide immediate decisions, bespoke solutions and rapid turnarounds.

In addition to bridging loans, First 4 Bridging offers medium-term loans and (increasingly popular) development finance, with terms from one month to five years across all products.