Meet the LendInvest development finance team

November marks three years since LendInvest formally launched into the development finance market.

Led since inception by former RBS veteran Steve Larkin, the development team has grown significantly over that time, increasing to 11 members earlier this year. 

The expansion isn’t finished, though, with plans to continue to grow the team still further next year.

The set-up now sees the team split into relationship managers, development finance associates and portfolio managers.  

It’s a structure that Jessica Humphrey, portfolio manager at LendInvest, argues provides borrowers with a clear point of contact on the team, from when they first send in an enquiry to when they are exiting the facility.

The first port of call for many developers and their advisers will be the relationship manager. 

James Russell initially worked in property finance in New Zealand before coming over to the UK five years ago, and is tasked with originating new business and then helping to manage those relationships throughout the life of the loan. 

James explains that this role means spending a lot of time out of the office, meeting developers and their introducers and regularly undertaking site visits in order to keep track of each development as it progresses. This allows us to develop a lasting partnership with the people behind those projects, rather than a mere transactional relationship. 

Nonetheless, the set-up of the team means that the in-house portfolio managers and development finance associates are on hand to handle any queries or issues that arise from other developers.

Sam Woodward, development finance associate, suggests that the team structure provides the borrower with “clear channels of communication, which ensures nothing is missed or ignored”. 

Sam, a recent graduate, says that the development finance associate role covers managing cases from the point of application all the way through to the completion of the loan, which includes tasks such as liaising with the borrower and their broker as well as instructing professionals, including surveyors, valuers and solicitors. 

Once funding is completed for a project, the project manager will become the significant point of contact for borrowers and their advisers. 

Jessica is a perfect fit for LendInvest, having written her degree dissertation on the effects of innovation on high street and challenger banks. In fact, it was during the research process that she discovered LendInvest.

She was the third member of the newly launched development finance team, and has now been in the role for two-and-a-half years, looking after a portfolio of more than 30 developers.

Jessica says: “I will often assess new enquiries, be involved in the process to funding the scheme and then manage the scheme once we have funded it all the way through to the project reaching practical completion and the developer selling the units. 

“Being involved in the journey the developer experiences from start to finish is very rewarding and [the] part of my role that I enjoy the most.”

This is an exciting time for the development team at LendInvest, with a new funding line with Asian investment bank Nomura and alternative investment manager Magnetar announced in September. The arrangement will see £150m of initial funding provided for residential development finance deals.

But all the team are realistic about the difficulties facing developers at the moment, particularly regarding the inevitable uncertainty that comes from the protracted Brexit process.

James notes that developers are largely positive, as they realise there is a good market for targeting owner-occupiers with the units they produce. 

But the big unanswered questions over the UK’s exit from the European Union have caused momentum to slip, which presents a challenge to those looking to ramp up housing production.

As Jessica puts it: “Overall, units are taking slightly longer to sell and this is something that developers are very aware of and are taking steps to mitigate as early on as possible.” 

Despite this, she suggests it is largely “business as usual” in terms of getting schemes built and on the market and providing more homes.

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