Kim McGinley Interview | Vibe Finance

On the MLC Show for Property Professionals we had the privilege of interviewing Kim McGinley.

Kim founded Vibe Finance having spent the previous 12 years working for specialist banks in the Commercial Mortgage industry working with a closed panel of mortgage brokers/introducers . Kim was underwriting her own cases at the outset and would oversee each case throughout the entire process through to completion.

Vibe Finance are UK mortgage specialists in property based finance for all types of commercial and residential property investments.

Kim won the following awards after creating Vibe Finance:

– NACFB Rising Star of the year award 2019
– Entrepreneur of the Year 2020, The News Business Excellence Awards

You can learn more about how Kim and the team at Vibe Finance can assist intermediaries here:

We interviewed Kim in late 2020.

Scroll down to read the transcript of the interview, or you can listen via our podcast, or watch the interview via our YouTube channel.

Click on the buttons below to listen to the interview on our podcast or watch via YouTube

Kim McGinley Interview | Vibe Finance

Kim, can you tell us about your career? What journey did you take and how? What led you to setting up Vibe Finance?

– Yeah, of course. So, gosh, I have to think back now. So, when I was at school, I was actually quite into my drama and theatrical, kind of, singing, dancing etc.

I left school to go to college to study that and ended up finding out quite quickly you cannot just leave and appear on TV and it is quite a hard slog. So, I have been a bit of a realist. I fell, as with a lot of people, into the mortgage crowd.

I first started off in a contact centre for Abbey National back then and ended up working for a mortgage brokerage. In between that, I actually got my hairdressing qualification just to diversify a little bit. I ended up working for Intubate Commercial who were backed by baby funding in America.

This goes back to around 2007. As we know, that was literally just prior to the crash of 2008. So, I started off as a lending manager and it was all in the specialist sector. Which I found really, really interesting. And then 2008 happened. The company stopped trading.

So, I went away. I was pregnant at the time, had my family. Then I had a phone call back in 2011, I think it was, from Intubate, who were making a comeback being backed by One Savings Bank. They asked would I like to come back as a lending manager?

After being out of it for so long I absolutely jumped at the chance. So, there I was back working as a lending manager and I used to look after brokers. So, I got to know the brokers so well and there are some really well-known brokers in the industry now. Had some really good relationships and I just got to a point, I think I hit my thirties, and I wanted something for myself, something that I could work around my family.

Then I ended up going to Hampshire Trust Bank in London, working part from home, part in the office. It was kind of an itch that I needed to scratch, and it would never go away. And once I get an idea in my head, like Vibe, I just ran with it. So, I was lucky enough to work with some fantastic brokers.

Equally, there were some that were not so good, and I could see that they were not offering the service to their clients that they deserved really.

So, with the experience that I had over these years as a lending manager, in the specialist sector, which is quite a niche area, I realised that, yeah, I could hopefully add some value to my own clients. So, I took the leap of faith and here I am now.

I know what it is like to have a young family entering my thirties and start running a business thinking I will probably get more flexibility, might even get more time, by going out on my own and starting a business. How did that work out!?! For me it did not work out providing the flexibility I had hoped for!

It is a work in progress! I am not going to lie. But, do you know what, I am there for when they need me. So, I am still there for school runs. I am there when they first wake up. So, whilst yes, they go to bed, I am working late, I get up way before the rest of my house and I am getting stuff done.

It is worth it for the moments that I can be there for, that I would have missed, had I still been employed. So, it is a very hard, and it is something I will always say I struggle with, like a balance, but I mean the kids know as well. It is a difficult one. It is definitely not a nine to five!

One hundred percent agree! Where has been the biggest growth in your business in 2020? I have seen a lot in the market this year about second charges, your HMO’s, buy to let. Where have you seen the biggest growth this year?

It has definitely been with people that are looking to add value to properties. So, that kicks it into the short-term finance, the refurb type products. Still huge demand for people that are buying standard Resi-properties and converting to HMO’s.

That is definitely something that we haven’t actually seen slow down. If anything, people are doing more of it.

People are buying to add value and to retain them. So, as we know, the property game is a long-term one for a lot of people. The growth has been in that short term finance / refurb area.

Where do you think in 2021 will be the biggest growth area? Not just for you, but in your sector, as niche as it is.

I think it still will remain there. I am hoping, and I do hope that the Stamp Duty, incentives at the moment, will be extended past March. To keep the property market moving next year I think they will need to do something like that which is incentivizing people to buy at the moment. So, I still think it will be good. There will be a property dip at some point. And I think we are all kind of expecting that. You know house prices cannot continue to go the way they are. But again, I still think a lot of our investor and landlord clients are looking to add value still, and it is mainly the serious kind of investors e.g., your portfolio landlords who are in it as a professional business. For them they are taking advantage of what is going on at the moment and snapping properties up.

So, following on from that then, and viewing the sector as a whole.

What would be the biggest concern for property? What do you think is one of the biggest concerns possibly through 2021 and beyond? And how, how would someone go about either preparing themselves for that or, or protecting themselves against those risks?

I think preparation is key for any mortgage broker.

It is a tough industry to be in at the minute. That is because of the continuous changes that we need to stay on top of in order to give the best service to our clients.

You have got people dipping in and out of the market. You will see all the time, especially in the regulated sector for, for example, first time buyers with smaller deposits.

There are literally weekly changes; rate change, criteria changes. We are now prepping our clients a lot more, at the outset, for all of the documentation that will likely be required.

Go back 10 months ago, that probably would not have been the case. Cases were flying through a lot quicker than what they are now (at the time of the interview in late 2020).

Add to that, the working from home. That is going to continue for a while. I mean, I speak to lenders that are not looking to bring people back to the office until towards the end of the year.

So, adding to that the record business volumes, which again, lenders are struggling with at the minute the majority of the service standards have gone down, communications a bit of a struggle at the moment too. So, as a broker, we have very much got our work cut out staying on top of all of that.

We get questions sometimes, “well, I did a re mortgage earlier this year and we didn’t need all of this?”

This is a different world we are in and I hate to use that term, but it completely is.

It is being prepared, staying on top of any documents, your bank statements etc., it is getting all of the paperwork ready at the outset which will save so many potential delays.

As a broker it is going to continue way into 2021 staying on top of all of this.

What was the biggest challenge to you in being self-employed and working in the sector? How do you overcome that? mental health, in particular, and physical health as well. How do you get past these challenging times? And how to overcome the challenges that you face on a daily basis?

I think the biggest thing that I have taken from this past year is that, whilst you can worry about so many things, how I get through it now, is that I can only worry about what I can change and what I can control.

Mental health, physical health is a huge, huge thing at the minute. It is something I need to get better at. Especially when you are working longer hours, which predominantly people are. And it is having that balance, which is great that people are working from home now, but I think the novelty can wear off.

It is very difficult when you are working from home to shut the door, that is your work, done, because you need that kind of space and that family time to shut off. For me, without a doubt it is still balancing this work-life balance. Which is always going to be a struggle for any business owner.

Especially when this past year you are responsible for other people and their mental wellbeing and making sure the team are okay. So, not only have you got the family aspect, but my team are also pretty much my family. And I know that sounds a bit cliche and whatever, but we are a really, really close team. So, not spending that time together. I mean, Beth, who is my case manager, I do not see her anymore other than on zoom. And we are such a small office. We are still based in the office and from home, which I love. But I love seeing people. There is only so much zoom I can take. And it does have its place, but I love that face-to-face interaction. So, I cannot wait to get to a point where we get back to that. I need that.

So, Vibe Finance. What was it like creating Vibe and building the organisation? From afar it has been a huge success and one you must be very proud of?

I have absolutely loved the journey of doing it. When you have this first idea and this vision of what you think you would like to have and to see it kind of come together in the way that it has, has just been amazing. And I loved it.

How different is it now compared to what you thought it would look like now? Or is it exactly the same? Social media can lead you to think that creating a business is all sunshine and light where you only hear about the wins and not the losses.

I mean I thought to myself when I first did it I would love us to win a trophy one day. I always used to go to these awards ceremonies as a lender and I would see all the brokers getting awards. And when I first created Vibe, I thought that was my goal. Maybe in a few years’ time that might happen, and I would get out of home office and then the last two years have been a little bit of a blur. It has been a complete learning journey, full of highs and lows. I think, the thing about social media is it is amazing, but it paints the perfect picture, doesn’t it?

I think it can be dangerous if you do not, go into it with your eyes wide open and realise that all of us have a need for significance. There is a load of ways of meeting that need. But I think, unfortunately, we live in a world where some people think they can get significance from fake stories or exaggeration. People do it harmlessly in that, if you went on Instagram and if I was an alien, and I came down today and went on Instagram, I’ll think, ‘Oh wow, everyone has got the perfect family life. These humans have got this nailed.’ And then I would go on LinkedIn and go, ‘Oh wow, like everyone’s a raging success. This is incredible.’ And they are just taking it all in their stride. This is amazing. The reality is everyone has got their battles, haven’t they? And social media does not really reveal the truth.

I do like to be honest on social media. I do like to post, if I have had a bad day, maybe, you know, what that might be, but still. You do not really get an impression of what it is actually like building a business. So, my first reaction when I meet people either online or, as we are now, when they say to me, ‘Oh my God, you’re doing amazing.’ I mean, I enjoy it. It has been a struggle this year. I always kind of have the reaction like, Oh, you do not see what goes on in the background!

Tell us a bit about Vibe and the services you specialise in. What are the key services and features of the business?

I wanted to utilise my background in specialist finance sector and whilst, I appreciate there is many brokers out there that deal with everything, which is great, I was very keen to start off in the niche area that I knew.

Whilst a lot of brokers say that they do specialist cases, often it is more the vanilla stuff.

Our slogan is complex made easy. There is not really a case that we should not be able to place.

It is any type of investment, like finance for buy-to-lets, HMO’s, I mean, there is no large, or size too small HMO that we cannot do.

Also, commercial units, as well as semi-commercial units.

So, with PD schemes at the minute, we have got a lot of clients that are converting commercial units to residential. It is long-term finance and short-term finance too.

Bridging absolutely has its place at the moment. It is still extremely competitive and ground up developments.

We have got clients that even through the pandemic they have kept their sites going and they are purchasing more, so that is what we are focusing on at the moment.

I am quite excited because we will be able to offer regulated loans soon. It is something I have been working on in the background. Because I think it is time now that, we get so many inquiries that we cannot place because we do not offer regulated services. With my qualifications it is something that I can bring into Vibe. I think it is another string to our bow. It is exciting times for us.

Apologies for putting you on the spot. If someone were looking to refer a client to you why would they instruct you and not someone else? What are the unique selling points or what would be the key feature that results in people in the industry working with Vibe Finance?

I think the main thing for us is our lender background. We know how to present a case to a lender. For other brokers, it might be more of a tick box exercise. If it does not fit with the lender’s criteria they move on to the next one. With us, we know what rules we can maybe bend. Not in a behind the scenes kind of way. We are very transparent and honest. We have got some fantastic relationships now because it is a very incestuous industry.

A lot of the people that we used to work with, both myself and Kelly, we have got all these relationships and other contacts.

When you need a bit more support we know who we can go to in order to get that. I think that, without a doubt, gives us an edge over possibly some other brokers that are out there. I will be honest with you, and my team will tell you, I have got very high expectations and high standards.

Whilst we are not a regulated broker, we are very much best practice. We know what due diligence to do up front before a client pays a fee, we will be able to head off potential lenders because of the fact that we do our due diligence. As an example, oh there is a pub next door or commercial across the road. We get it checked out. Whereas I do hear a lot of stories where other brokers do not do that upfront. A client pays an application fee, evaluation fee, it comes back, and it is a decline.

Our conversion rates are really, really good. But like I said, my team will tell you I am a stickler for my expectations. And the standards that we offer are high.

Communication is without a doubt my biggest thing. Throughout this pandemic, if you are not communicating, you lose clients and you lose those relationships. I am quite, I would not say I’m demanding, but I expect a high standard from the team. I think that filters down through to our clients.

In terms of intermediaries there is a lot of benefits there. If I am an intermediary should I be worried about you cross selling? Should I be worried about your performance, how it is going to reflect on me because if I am saying to the clients, ‘I think I know somewhere I can use to help you,’ how can you assure me that there is going to be no cross selling and that it is not going to damage my future relationship with that client?

We adapt our way of working to our intermediaries. It is a trust, isn’t it? The minute a trust gets broken, the relationship falls away and we do not want that to happen. So, it is almost an assurance that we give our intermediaries, and it is a two-way thing. That we will not cross sell.

So, once they come to us and we have got intermediaries that we deal with week in, week out for their clients, they have built up that relationship with us now. I think it is more of a trust element than anything else. Other than that, what do you base it on? Like I said if an intermediary would rather take the relationship forward with the client and we deal with them, absolutely fine.

Sometimes, with it being so busy at the minute, they would like to know that they can pass a client to us and we will look after them as they would. Again, it comes down to a bespoke package that we offer to our intermediaries.

So, 12 months’ time. We touched on the regulated area earlier. Where else would you like to see the business progress in 12 months’ time? What targets have you and the team got? What do you want to do with your existing services or new ones?

Again, it is expanding into the regulated sector. I would love to start building the team a little bit more. A big thing for me would be to bring specialist advisors on board.

A trainee kind of role would absolutely suit me. It does not have to be someone from the industry, but I think it is easier, in a way, to do that because there are no preconceptions of what they should be doing or what our industry involves. I can almost mould them as to the way the Vibe team need to be. I am really excited to do that.

I would love to continue to expand the team. There will come a point, I am hoping, where I can take a bit more of a step back to work on the business rather than in it. I would like to think maybe in a year’s time that might be possible. I would need the right team behind me in order to do that. So, hopefully we can build on what we have got.

You can learn more about how Kim and the team at Vibe Finance can assist intermediaries here: