Specialist Lending Feature

Interview with Samantha Emery of Glenhawk

Interview with Samantha Emery of Glenhawk

We were delighted to have the opportunity to interview Samantha Emery of Glenhawk

We review and debate:

– Spikes in market activity over the past 3-6 months

– Commercial borrowers having issues with their current lender in respect of the split between residential & commercial when a fast solution is required

– When a borrower wants to raise as much as possible (against a new valuation after works are complete after a recent purchase) is this problematic?

– Developer exits/marketing loans & delays due to COVID

– What are the key factors that impact turnaround times and the prospects of success?

Samantha also discusses her time at Barclays and Together Loans plus we find out more about the exciting growth plans at Glenhawk.

The MLC Show for Property Professionals is in association with themortgagebrokerclub.co.uk

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

Specialist Lending Feature

Interview with Samantha Emery of Glenhawk

Glenhawk logo

We were delighted to be joined by Samantha Emery of Glenhawk.

Glenhawk provides short-term property finance with a strong capital base to lend whether you’re looking to acquire a new property, unlock equity in a current property, or you’re initiating a property investment or refurbishments, Glenhawk specialises in second charge, commercial, refurbishments, and residential lending. Glenhawk work with intermediaries nationwide.

Samantha, how are you? How are things?

– Am very well thank you. Delighted to be here. Thank you for having me

Can you tell us a bit about your time before joining Glennhawk? Particularly your time at Barclays and Together Loans. Did you enjoy it there and tell us a bit about what it was like working there.

– So I joined Barclays straight from school so I was very lucky to go into my first full-time position in a bank and went straight in at entry level as a cashier and I worked my way through, over 11 years of being there, many different roles.

The last three years I was there I was in Premier Manager. What that meant is I looked after a portfolio of about 750 high net worth clients. I did everything from savings to mortgages, loans, investments, and everything along those lines. I absolutely loved my time there.

I wouldn’t change anything about it. It did a lot for me but I think towards the end, same as a lot of people I suppose, who has been in banking for a long time, a lot had changed from when I joined to when I left.

I was approached via social media about a role that came up and I thought it was going to be too good to be true, to be honest. They approached me and said, we’ve got this role where you get to do all the bits you love from your job, which is being out and about with my clients and lending. Mortgages were the bit that I absolutely loved from my days in Barclays but obviously, sometimes that can be slightly more difficult in the mainstream bank lending world to achieve.

I went along and I found myself working for Together. So it was definitely a learning curve. In my first week, my mind was blown because all I had ever known was banking, and they were talking about, unregulated mortgages, and bridging finance, and short-term lending solutions.

I learned so much being there and I absolutely loved it and although I loved the days in banking I don’t think now, being in this specialist lending sector, that I could ever go back to it.

I love the speed, the flexibility, the tangible evidence of what was going to happen at the end. It just happened so quickly.

I got to do all of my favourite bits. When I was at Together I worked in the professional sector. Which meant that predominantly I looked after accountants, solicitors, IFA’s, ex-bankers.

It was a lot of previous connections of people that I already knew and I got to expand that a lot further. I did everything from bridging to, 30 year buy to let mortgages, etc.

It sounds like you had a great time at Together. It must have been some pitch by Glenhawk to pull you away from there. What was it about Glenhawk that motivated you to make that change?

– I had already heard of Glenhawk and as soon as they started, they were on my radar.

Obviously being in that sector, you have got your eye on the market anyway, and I had come across them. I really liked their values and their culture.

I had known them for a while anyway but I wasn’t thinking of jumping ship or anything like that. They had always been a lender that I looked up to and then this opportunity came along, and I suppose for me it was more of where Glenhawk is at.

Together are obviously amazing at what they do. They’ve been around 42 years – a huge organisation and I loved it there but being at Glenhawk meant that I got the opportunity to come in at the beginning.

We’ve been around for three years and we’re about to go on this huge growth trajectory and I’m going to get to be part of that.

Meeting Guy and Nick, and the way that they are was great. They really do put the clients at the center of everything.

I think it was just a mixture of all of the above that just completely won me over.

How has it been in the last 12 months? Obviously with the pandemic, such unique circumstances across the world, but also in the sector as well…..

– Yeah it’s been crazy! It’s a very different world for a lot of people.

I think, again, that Glenhawk we were really lucky that we’ve partnered with JP Morgan. They’ve seen the credibility and given us a funding line of 200 million+ which came in literally just before the pandemic and they’ve supported us the whole way through.

We’ve been in a really, I suppose, positive position where we haven’t had to stop lending. We have continued to lend throughout the pandemic.

We obviously, as everybody else has done, looked at some scenarios where we may have to be a little bit more cautious but every single one of our deals is looked at on a case by case basis anyway so that wasn’t really a huge change for us.

The biggest thing was the remote working, I suppose, and getting everybody to work from home. We are so used to being right next to each other and having decision-makers literally sitting across from you where you can ask those questions.

So it was getting used to that, but I think we adapted really well and the team has been amazing. We have just been really fortunate that Glenhawk has been really supportive by being able to give all of the platforms for everybody to communicate and really making sure that we all stay in touch with each other.

Now as we hopefully come out of this everybody’s just as excited to be back in the office which is a really lovely feeling as well. I think it pays a testament to the culture and the family that is working at Glenhawk.

Is there anything that Glenhawk has said to you openly, or alternatively is there anything that you would like Glenhawk to continue with, that they have adopted during the pandemic period or the last 12 months that might not have happened otherwise? You were saying working remotely there it sounds like the organisation has done really well with the engagement of the team and keeping the culture of the business with you all still being able to communicate with each other. Do you think there’s anything that can be taken from that and implemented back into the office environment or is it not necessary to a certain extent?

– No, I think it’s a bit of both, to be honest they have really been supportive throughout this and that will continue.

We are all, and everybody is fully aware that, we’ve always had flexible work in but now that’s made easier with everybody being able to have this set up at home, so that is definitely going to stay very much a part of and it is what people feel comfortable with.

Nobody’s going to be pushed to come back in and it’s very much going to be a choice but there will be a lot more of them in the team that is flexibly working.

So possibly doing one or two days from home and it showed that we can do it and it does work really well.

We’ve just taken on a new office which is absolutely beautiful. I think everybody is really keen to get back in any way but there will definitely be that element of flexible working, and we’ve obviously got some processes now that have been put in place, so it probably makes things quicker and a bit more efficient. You don’t need to be sitting next to somebody now because we’ve got different processes that are in place. So it doesn’t matter if somebody is, you know not right next to you, and that will definitely continue.

I was reading that the former Precise mortgages executive James Pritchard, I understand he was the best head of sales at the 2020 specialist lending awards, has joined Glenhawk recently. It seems really exciting times there. Where do you see the main area of growth? Do you see any particular form of specialist lending being the key one that you could see large growth in this year?

– Yeah, I mean everybody’s delighted that Jamie decided to join us. I think that it’s a testament to where Glenhawk is at and where they are going.

We already had really good foundations with our products and Guy obviously with his vision, with the team that is already there, and the type of people that he is taking on.

One thing that we hadn’t really invested in was the sales plan and the structure going forward. So for that kind of scalability of distribution with the new product sets that we are going to have that is everything that Jamie has got experience in already, which he’s obviously going to help us with here.

I think there will be growth in many areas. I definitely think that in the near future there will be a lot more products out from Glenhawk and we will be going into a different space, where at the moment we are bridging finance, we will definitely be growing as a specialist lender and going into the other areas such as, buy-to-lets, commercial term, possibly development, those kinds of areas.

Our aim is to not be “a” specialist lender. It is to be “THE” specialist lender. So it is really exciting times, definitely big growth plans.

Have you seen any spikes in market activity over the past three to six months whether positive or negative in the trends?

– Yeah. I suppose there’s been a few in different areas of things with stamp duty and stuff like that, but one of the things we’ve seen the biggest spike in would be development exits or marketing loans as some like to call them.

With the pandemic building has been a little bit slower where they won’t be able to be on-site or, you know there was a slight delay. It did pick up very quickly but a delay in surveyors being able to go out meant the market then slowed down a little bit and I think that that did affect some development projects that were going on and it’s affected them coming out.

We’ve seen a lot of cases where builders have come to the end of their term with their development finance but unfortunately, they either have not finished, or they have finished but they are on the market and haven’t sold yet.

We are definitely seeing a massive spike in doing development exit bridges at the end of that. Basically just while they sell, some where we are lending a little bit just to support finishing the works before they come out, but that’s something that’s seen massive growth.

Whilst obviously it’s great for us it’s a shame for some builders where they haven’t been able to be out when they’d like to have been, but at least they’ve got other options and at Glenhawk we are really happy to support up to 75% loan-to-value on those, which I think is a lot higher than the rest of the market.

I was reading about borrowers coming to the end of the bridging term and facing large renewal fees.

Have you had many of these kinds of requests coming in? Have you seen re-bridging requests looking to avoid these larger renewal fees? Is that something that Glenhawk does? Have you seen any of these yourself?

– Yeah, definitely. It is something that we do and is again probably for similar reasons. It is something that we come across quite often. I have got an example of that recently.

We had somebody that came to us. It was a residential bridge but unfortunately, their current lender was about to charge a very large renewal fee. They had 12 days to come out of it. The property was on the market, it was going to sell, but it’s not going to sell in 12 days. So that came to us here and we were able to do 70% for them of the property value, and we actually competed in 11 days. We saved them a nice chunk of money there. But unfortunately, it’s something that we do come across and it’s something we are more than happy to help with.

We have been reading a few stories about commercial borrowers, having issues with their current lender in respect of the split between residential and commercial, and particularly when they need to find a fast solution. Have you got any experience of that? Is that a problem you are seeing?

– So a lot of lenders will look at this differently.

Some lenders will look at the split on commercial to residential. Some will want to look at what the square footage is e.g. a split between the two, some will want to look at what the value split is between the two, and some lenders will over adjust their LTVs based on that or adjust the rate, or some just cannot do it at all.

I think with the long-term lenders it’s a bit more difficult.

We came across one recently where the long-term lender required the residential element to be 60% and 40% commercial, and that is quite common with some lenders in the market, but here at Glenhawk, the split is not relevant to us.

We don’t mind what the split is between the two, whether it’s square footage or value we’re happy to do 70% across the whole lot.

So in this scenario, unfortunately, it came out for the gentleman after valuation that the residential element was only 52% meaning the current lender couldn’t help and he had two weeks to find another long-term lender because he had to complete.

Unfortunately, they were not able to do that for him in two weeks.

He came to us to help and we lent 70% of the whole value in a two-week timescale which has now allowed him a little bit more time to find that long-term lender. We already know of others in the market who are able to help too. He just needed that bit more time.

It is definitely something if somebody is looking at semi-commercial property to think about when you are looking at lenders. What the actual split is and ask that lender how they look at it? Is it square footage? Is it value? What are their restrictions?

Great advice. I wanted to pick your brains on cash-out refurbishments as well, especially where say there’s been a recent purchase and after the works, the borrower wants to raise as much as possible against the new valuation – completely understandably.

For me, that would be fraught potentially with issues. What are you seeing at the moment in those kinds of cases?

– Again I would say this is something when you’re going into a project you would need to consider how quickly you’re going to need to come out of that, and what you’re going to need out of it.

Again, all lenders will have a cash-out refinance of rule or clause, or restriction. This is something that we have come across recently where a gentleman had bought a property. He spent a certain amount of money on it and he owned it for four months. He now wanted to release 70% of the new valuation.

Now our cash-out refinance clause, I suppose as you would call it, is 90% of the purchase price plus a hundred percent of the works.

So literally, the gentleman’s obviously only going to have less than 10% in the deal, but he actually required more. He wanted more of the house, all of his funds out plus a little bit more to move on to the next project.

Now we are more than happy to do that but it does have to be after six months.

So again quite a few lenders will have this six-month clause so it is something that you need to consider when you’re going in to approach how quickly do you need your cash out?

Can you wait that six months? Or is, as far as Glenhawk sit, 90% plus the cost of the works enough for you to move on to the next one?

When intermediaries refer business to you what can they do, or what can they do with their clients, to help increase the turnaround time on decisions and completion? What can they do to really accelerate that process and make sure it goes through as smoothly as possible.

– So, in terms of decisions on day one it would just be, get us as much information as possible, and one of the things, again, that’s really important to Glenhawk is we like to look at the client’s covenant. What experience have they got? What’s their net wealth?

The reason being is because we don’t have a fixed product set we will price individually for each deal and it will be dependent on the property, the location, the client, and as I’ve said, covenants.

So that’s always really good if you’ve got an A&L, or you’ve got a project schedule to provide upfront, and then we can get you a really quick decision.

In terms of the process and moving towards completion as we all know, solicitors are really, really, key parts of this.

It’s making sure that your solicitor has one, dealt with bridging finance before because obviously the speed element is really key, and two make sure that you have got a relationship, either the introducer or the client themselves, with that solicitor.

If not then they can always talk to us about solicitors we have relationships with just to make sure that the communication and the speed element always stays there.

One of the other things I suppose would be good, if possible, is to really look at the deal.

Where we are looking at things like development exits and things like that. Have things been built in line with planning? Have they had sign-off?

When we know all of that information up front we can mitigate and be as flexible as we can to make sure that the process is really smooth because sometimes if things come out at the last minute it can cause issues or delays.

For example, we have had valuations come back and something’s been built outside of planning and then we need to wait for permission from the local authority.

So it’s all of those. It’s just really understanding the deal.

I am spending a lot of time with my brokers and introducers and they have experienced a lot of these elements more than me anyway, but it’s always good to have that support element and work together on it. I am happy to talk to clients as well directly if required.

Shameless plug time I’m afraid to say. In terms of solicitors, we are absolutely flying with the legal services operation at the moment. We are about to make a big announcement soon on Equity Release in terms of a new service we have got there but especially in terms of the commercial property and when it comes to bridging we have top firms available on every panel.

We have got a lot of unique flexibility in that area with the conveyancing services. Sorry shameless plug but if you are looking for faster turnaround times and five-star lawyers make sure you check out the mortgage broker club’s conveyancing you can register for free for that. We are really proud of the rave reviews we’re getting and we have got some big announcements to make on that later in the year regarding automated updates to brokers directly from our solicitors.

 Samantha for the benefit of any intermediaries that haven’t worked with you before they are obviously going to have relationships with all those specialist lenders already in the market, or have an automatic view in their mind of where they might place something.

What can they expect from you in terms of the relationship between you and them? What can they envisage in terms of the customer service side of things? The relationship with Glenhawk? Also is there any risk of cross-selling or anything like that?

– We have been around for three years so like you say intermediaries will have all these historic relationships, and we are all creatures of habit, sometimes we go along with what we know.

Guy, who founded Glenhawk, was a property developer himself. So, he’s very experienced. He’s used many other lenders in the market previously, and that was where Glenhawk came from because he felt there was a gap in the market for somebody who really did put the customer at the heart of everything.

Sometimes there can be these misconstrued opinions of brokers just going for the biggest fees in the market but I think what is most important for brokers is that their client gets the best experience so that they use the broker again because ultimately, that is their business.

I hope that everybody that we deal with really does feel that difference. It is a relationship piece. We do want to work with you going forward.

As I’ve said, Glenhawk is at this point of growth.  Over the coming months whilst we work on these new product sets we will be getting brokers involved with that. Our brokers will be heavily involved in that. We’ll be asking them, what is it you want to see from Glenhawk? What products don’t you have in the market? Or what do you have and they don’t work well? Why don’t they work?

We can work together to put both those pieces of the puzzle together to give the intermediaries, or the brokers, what it is that they are looking for.

As you know, everybody says it, so people get bored of hearing the same thing, but the flexibility and the speed we really do have that here.

You have got access to all of the key decision-makers. Anybody can pick up the phone to Guy and have a chat with him and he would be more than happy to have that conversation. He loves it.

I think that’s something that’s very different from what you’re going to get with the other lenders in the market.

You can follow Samantha Emery on LinkedIn here

You can learn more about Glenhawk and their products here