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One to One: Stephen Wasserman, managing director, West One Loans

Wasserman

Predicted growth and trends in the bridging market, conjecture on the impact of the Mortgage Credit Directive and a continued focus on technology

Your latest bridging index puts the market at just shy of £3bn. How much more can it grow and what could stunt or promote growth?

Our index places the current size of the market at just under £3bn but it could be even larger than that because a number of deals go under the radar and, as a result, are difficult to quantify.

There is still plenty of potential for growth and we could see the sector grow to between £8bn and £10bn over the next three to four years.

Bridging is now considered a more viable option for many property professionals and that improvement in perception is promoting growth. The continuing relaxation of permitted development rules is driving growth, as are changes to planning laws regarding buying a property with a view to achieving a change in its use.

Rising house prices are also playing their part; according to the Your Move House Price Index, annual house price growth sits at more than 5 per cent at the moment.

It is impossible to predict exactly how the bridging sector will evolve but what will be key is product diversification and lenders continuing to innovate and adapt to borrowers’ needs.

What effect will the Mortgage Credit Directive have on the bridging sector?

I think we can look forward to an initial bedding-in period – it will be a similar process to the mainstream industry’s reaction to the Mortgage Market Review. But in the long term it will only be good for the sector because it is bound to improve the reputation of the specialist finance industry in general.

Following the launch of your new investor platform, what plans do you have for West One over the next 12 months?

Sustainable growth and continued investment in and focus on technology to improve the customer experience and help aid communication between all the stakeholders in the bridging space. We will also be growing headcount and investing further in our staff.

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

I would like an extra couple of hours each day. I get into the office at 8.00am and finish the day at 8.00pm. Another couple of hours might give me a little more time to spend with Ethan, my baby son.

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

Surround yourself with good people.

Who is your all-time hero and why?

Despite being a lifelong Spurs fan, I would say Sir Alex Ferguson. He has been hugely successful – the greatest football manager in history. During his tenure, Manchester United won 13 league titles and 25 other trophies, giving him an overall haul nearly double that of the next-most-successful English club manager. He did it by starting from the bottom; by daring to rebuild his team; by setting high standards and holding everyone to them; and by preparing his team to pull a rabbit out of a hat with 10 minutes to go. He observed the opposition meticulously and was prepared to adapt accordingly. He was a phenomenal leader.

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

I would love to say that I would be exploring the world but the truth is I would be a solicitor or an accountant. Narrow escape.

Do you have any secret talents?

I am secretly a scratch golfer. The 28 handicap is just a ruse for Stapleford purposes. It is a very good ruse as I do not think I have broken 100 since 2013. But that is completely on purpose. One day I will drop the act and unveil my genius but until then I am keeping it very well hidden.

COMPANY PROFILE

Turnover, projected 2015: £32m (Enra Group)

Headcount: 75+ (Enra Group)

Address:
West One Loans
3rd Floor, Premiere House
Elstree Way
Borehamwood
Hertfordshire WD6 1JH
Tel: 0333 123 4556

HISTORY:
West One Loans is a specialist bridging loan provider based in Borehamwood in Hertfordshire. Having been founded by Duncan Kreeger and Stephen Wasserman and incorporated in 2008, it is perhaps best known for its West One Bridging Index, established in 2011. In 2014, the business was sold to master broker and specialist distributor Enterprise Finance. It recently undertook a significant brand overhaul and launched a new investor portal. Parent group Enra employs more than 75 people in total.

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