James Bloom director of Alternative Bridging Corporation (ABC)

An interview with James Bloom: 'Those of us who run a non-regulated and a regulated arm should be treating all customers in exactly the same way'



In an interview with Development Finance Today, Alternative Bridging Corporation’s (ABC) new divisional director discusses what he will bring to the lender, how to improve the experience for its broker partners and the challenges that the specialist finance sector faces.

How do you intend to enhance Alternative Bridging Corporation’s offering following your arrival as divisional director? 

Having been in the industry for 25-plus years (sadly), I will be able to bring over my clients, broker contacts and also help to build the brand generally with new products and help us to get a wider reach in the market. We already have very slick processes, but we are constantly striving to improve them, and I can hopefully help with this. We have a very wide product suite, but there are many more products we are discussing, some of which we hope to launch in 2020 to enhance our offering for our broker partners and clients. As a regulated lender, we are able to offer a wide variety of products which will continue to expand.

Do you feel the specialist lending sector is becoming more complex as more lenders enter the space? 

The sector has become more complex as increased regulation has come in, but for those who are used to working in a regulated environment and act in the right way, this doesn’t present a problem. What is important is that new entrants don’t just mirror what is already available in the market, but offer different products or focus on underserved niches.

How do you intend to enhance the experiences for ABC's broker partners and clients? 

With new products, an increased focus on the development sector and hopefully helping to improve our processes even further. We are constantly striving to improve the speed and delivery of our products and this is a theme of our discussions. We have to be innovative in a crowded marketplace and as a very well capitalised lender with 30-plus years of experience, we are very well placed to do this.

What challenges do you see the specialist finance sector facing over the next few years? 

Other than the macroeconomic issues, which have an impact on the whole sector, the bridging market, in particular, is becoming ever more crowded, which can lead to an increased risk profile of deals and a lack of the right level of talent in terms of people in the industry. All of which means increased risk without, at times, the appropriate return, given the race to the bottom.

Do you believe regulators are currently doing enough to protect customers and clients in the sector? 

Generally, yes, but the best form of regulation is self-policing. Those of us who run a non-regulated and a regulated arm should be treating all customers in exactly the same way, whether it is a regulated or non-regulated loan. Having heard Lynda Blackwell, formerly of the FCA, speak at the ASTL conference, it is unlikely that further regulation for our sector is coming down the track. 

How did you get into the industry? 

I initially had a property management and investment background while working at Regentsmead and we started a short-term lending business in 1994, which I took over running after a few years. We started lending to small developers doing single units and quickly grew the business to become one of the largest privately owned development lenders in the market. 

If you didn't work in finance, what would you be doing? 

I always wanted to be a barrister. I like to talk!


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