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By Kit Thompson

Being a typical British Bank Holiday, today has been wet and windy. An extra day off at the weekend is always welcome, as this job especially often means spending time away from loved ones with numerous business trips, black-tie dos, awards ceremonies and yes, even some corporate hospitality (are we still allowed to say that exists). Tomorrow I will be travelling to Bolton in the North West, to host a round-table event for our Paradigm network partners – a great opportunity to meet some new brokers and talk about the specialist sector, which let’s be honest, is still something of a mystery to many brokers.

The majority of brokers still do not operate in any of this niche markets – preferring to stick to what they know best – that is mainstream, High Street, mortgages, protection and general insurance. Nothing wrong with any of those things and I enjoyed my client-facing broker years very much, where that is all I focused on as well.

The beauty of the specialist sector is that it is a lucrative area of the market that is still untapped by many and presents an exciting opportunity for additional revenue and really putting you ahead of your competition if you embrace and seek out these new opportunities with your existing client base, as well as hopefully attracting some new ones. There are brokers that specialise in those niche areas – such as commercial, second charge mortgages, specialist mortgages or bridging finance and those that only tend to deal with main-stream. In my opinion, the strongest broker is the one who can offer a full-range of funding solutions to his client. Best of all, there is no need to become an expert in these areas. Just seek a specialist distributor, packager or broker partner with the knowledge, expertise and most importantly, the right lender relationships to assist in these areas.

When Rob Jupp, Bradley Moore and I started Brightstar in Jan 2011, we knew right away that we would split the business in to what we perceived to be 3 teams initially; Mortgages, second charge mortgages and Bridging & Commercial (would be one team, as we considered them to be inextricably linked). After our first year and as soon as staff numbers and business volumes allowed, we did just that and each took one specialist area each. As it transpires, we now have 5 divisions within Brightstar; those already mentioned and an FCA regulated arm to the business, called Bright Mortgages, so that we can also offer regulated advice to clients who come to us directly, or to brokers who do not wish to give advice on specialist areas such as regulated bridging or commercial loans.

We also made the decision to split Bridging and Commercial in to two separate teams, realising that a certain skill-set is required to do both effectively. Our message to brokers and my message to my round-table delegates this week will not be to become an expert in any of these fields, but work with a specialist funding partner who is. The skill for the broker is recognising the opportunities with their clients and not turning away business that they consider isn’t their core business – commercial term lending, short-term bridging finance, near-prime mortgages or deals that cannot be placed with main stream lenders, multi-unit freehold properties, lending to LLPs and Ltd Cos, including offshore SPVs. Next time a client asks, say “yes” and refer them across.