BestAdvice fires the questions at James Rainbird, managing director of Truffle Specialist Finance
BestAdvice (BA): You’ve recently rebranded from Pink Pig Loans to Truffle Specialist Finance, so how has the rebrand been received by your advisers and why did you decide to rebrand?
James Rainbird (JR): The rebrand has gone done brilliantly with our adviser partners; the management team bought back 100% of the shares in the business last year, and so we wanted to reflect not only a fresh start but our growth as a firm in the rebrand.
The truth is that we are about far more than simply ‘loans’. We have built a respected profile across all areas of specialist finance, from second charge and buy-to-let to bridging, commercial and development finance. We offer advisers and their clients a much wider range of options today, so rebranding to Truffle Specialist Finance makes a lot of sense.
BA: How does the depth of your team and their level of experience help across all your lending areas (second charges, bridging, commercial and development finance)?
JR: The specialist market is well named – it takes real understanding and knowledge of each product area to really deliver the best possible service to advisers and their clients. We know that many regular mortgage advisers will only deal with a handful of specialist cases a year – a bridging loan here, a second charge deal there, for example.
It’s impossible to build up a proper understanding of these sectors and keep on top of the product ranges and criteria employed by lenders if you handle cases so infrequently, which is why some advisers just let these leads go. It doesn’t make sense for them to devote the time needed to develop the expertise needed to do the best possible job, if they will only place a case or two every year.
That’s why at Truffle Specialist Finance we have focused on building a team filled with extensive experience – and the contacts that matter – across each area of specialist finance. It means that even for the most complicated cases we should be able to find the lender and product best suited to the client’s needs.
BA: How do you see the current lending landscape for second charges for borrowers who need to raise capital, but either can’t or don’t wish to remortgage?
JR: The second charge market is in excellent health at the moment. While some lenders pulled back their lending activity in the early days of the pandemic, since then not only have they resumed lending – with more competitive products – but we’ve also seen a host of new lenders enter the second charge sector too. That broader range of choice is really important.
The demand is obviously there for second charge mortgages, which is why we have seen the number of new agreements grow month-on-month for some time. There are plenty of homeowners who want to consolidate their debts or carry out some badly-needed home improvements, but who don’t want to go through the upheaval of remortgaging. That route could involve significant early repayment charges, giving up an excellent interest rate, and even being moved into a higher LTV band.
A second charge mortgage avoids those issues and allows homeowners to tap into the equity they already have in the property in order to raise the required funds.
BA: Are second charges being recommended by mortgage advisers enough? Why do you think this is the case?
JR: I think awareness of the role that second charge mortgages can play has certainly improved over recent years, but there’s no doubt in my mind that second charge mortgages could be recommended more. Ultimately, I think it comes down to education – as an industry, we need to do a better job of helping advisers to understand the situations when a second charge mortgage could help their clients, and what lenders are looking for from potential borrowers.
BA: How would you say Truffle Specialist Finance stands out from the competition?
JR: This is a relationship business, and I truly believe we have relationships with lenders that mean we can do the best possible job for advisers and their clients. Because we have such an experienced team, we understand precisely how to package different cases to give them the best chance of finding a lender, but we also understand the lenders themselves. Those relationships can help us succeed in placing a case where others might struggle.
BA: How important is service to advisers in the specialist finance sector?
JR: Service is perhaps even more important in the specialist sector than the mainstream mortgage market. Take bridging for example – if an investor is using a bridging loan to pick up a new property, chances are they need to move quickly. It might be because they need to get the deal completed before the competition realises what a great prospect the property is, or perhaps they have a tight deadline as they purchased it at auction.
Obviously, advisers want their client to get the lowest rate, but equally they want to deal with firms who can deliver what they promise and ensure the funds are provided on time. That’s why working with experts in the specialist space can be such a smart move for advisers, as we are perfectly positioned to help identify the right lender, no matter how complex the case may be.
BA: Finally, what aims do you have for Truffle Specialist Finance?
JR: The rebrand is the start of an exciting new chapter for the business. We have excellent relationships with a significant number of advisers already, but I am keen for us to continue to spread the word not only about how these products can work for advisers’ clients, but also how Truffle Specialist Finance can deliver a level of service to those clients which advisers would be proud of. By working together, we can ensure far more potential borrowers access the funds they need, whatever they may need them for.