The importance of putting relationships first

The importance of putting relationships first

When it comes to development finance, a healthy relationship between clients can go a long way. At the United Trust Bank, it’s imperative that relationships are a priority.

United Trust Bank has always been committed to building strong relationships with the brokers and developers who come to the Bank for development finance.

The relationships established by the property development directors and property development managers are the reasons why a high proportion of the business completed by UTB’s Development Finance Division supports customers the Bank has worked with before, sometimes on several occasions over many years.

High levels of service

One such originator, Property Development Director, Jonathan Nail, has been so successful in building and maintaining close relationships with his clients over the last two decades that over the last year he has developed a team and way of working which ensures that he and the Bank can maintain the high levels of service he’s committed to delivering to his customers.

Meet Luke Benton-Drury. Luke has worked in development finance for around 10 years and joined UTB in 2016 as a Case Manager.

At the start of 2017 Luke became an Assistant Manager, working closely with Jonathan Nail. As well as supporting Jonathan, preparing the credit papers for him to present to the Bank’s Credit Committee for example, he is another familiar face to Jonathan’s customers and brokers and he regularly meets them face to face. His knowledge of the cases and relationships with the clients ensures continuity.

Established in the sector

Ed Weekes started with UTB as a trainee Case Manager in late 2015 and quickly progressed to dealing with larger loans.

He’s now an established Case Manager and works on a number of Jonathan’s projects. As such he spends a lot of his time with Jonathan and Luke and the three of them have found it beneficial to both the client and the Bank to have built these stronger connections with Jonathan’s long-standing clients.

As a result, it’s a model which has been replicated across the division.

Close contact

“Developers really want that close contact with their lender, “explains Jonathan. “They value being able to pick the phone and speak to someone who immediately recognises them, knows the proposal or the development and can help them with whatever they need, whether that’s providing information during due diligence or arranging a quick pay-out following a QS visit.

“With some lenders, particularly those on the High Street, the operations are so vast they have infrequent contact with the relationship manager and may hardly talk to the same case manager twice.

“My clients have met Luke and Ed, they know they can call me or them directly any time and not have to go back to square one every time they get in contact.”

Luke continues: “It often surprises me the number of times Jonathan and I will go to meet a potential new client at a development site and they will say that despite having worked with some lenders for years they have never met their lender anywhere outside of their offices.

“Where practical we meet every client on site when considering a proposal and when the loan completes we’ll often make several visits during the build. It makes a big impression on the client that we’ve made the effort to go and see them, especially when some of them are in Devon and Cornwall.”

Clear advantages

For Ed, there are some clear advantages of having a deeper knowledge of the customer and their previous projects.

He explains: “as well as being familiar to the client, when dealing with a returning customer I already know a lot about their previous projects, the client’s finances and what other commitments they may have.

“This makes it much quicker and easier to complete due diligence and get the loan to completion. It also means that there are direct lines of communication between the broker and/or developer, Jonathan, Luke and myself so if there are any hitches everyone knows exactly who they can speak to without going around the houses as they do with some lenders.”

Jonathan is convinced that this way of working supports UTB’s commitment to being an approachable and dependable lender.

Acorn

Melanie Omirou, Group Managing Director & Funding Director of Acorn Property Group has known and worked with Jonathan Nail for over 15 years and the Bank is currently funding Acorn’s stunning ‘Dunes’ development in Perranporth, Cornwall, one of several joint ventures the Group is undertaking with Galliard Homes.

Jonathan’s relationship with Acorn stretches back to when the company was founded and he has worked closely with Melanie since she joined Acorn in 2002.

UTB has provided the funding on a number of Acorn’s developments including those by their Cornish brand, Acorn Blue, such as The Sands in Polzeath, The Beach in Porthtowan and The Apartments in Crantock Bay.

Standing out

“We enjoy working with Jonathan, Luke and Ed and the wider team at United Trust Bank. it’s all about having a strong relationship” says Melanie.

“UTB stand out from many other funders in several areas. They understand property and they understand our needs as borrowers, but they also respect that we are very good at what we do and will always deliver.

“They’re much more supportive than a high street lender and like to get more closely involved in the projects. However, they don’t meddle.

“They’re happy to share their knowledge and experience but also understand that we know how to build outstanding properties and know our market and our customers better than anyone.”

Strong relationships

Jonathan Nail concludes: “Clients have a strong relationship with the Bank, not just through me but now also with Luke and Ed as well. They know we’ll always do the best deal we can for them without giving them unrealistic expectations and we’ll be straight with them throughout the whole process.

“You can’t create a true partnership without building and maintaining a relationship of trust and respect. And you can’t build that kind of relationship with a faceless organisation.”

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