SFI November 2021 - Education for Specialist Property Finance

24 Nov 2021

For many years I have been involved in education for this sector and I am pleased to announce that we have launched a proposal for a commercial property finance education programme that is suitable for the current climate of learning and compliance. There has been collaboration across the Industry to produce the framework for an ongoing programme of education for the commercial property finance industry, which includes bridging, short term finance, development finance and specialist buy to let.

The  discussions from FIBA have successfully built upon the previous ground work started a number of years ago. We are working in conjunction with the Association of Short Term Lenders (ASTL) and the London Institute of Banking and Finance,(LIBF) and have now developed the essential framework to complete the building of an Education Programme that will suit all elements of our Industry. The early indications are that we have plenty of support to progress and this now means it is up to all of us to work together to reach the right outcome to suit everyone.

Through working with the London Institute of Banking & Finance (LIBF) we have the ability to create a series of optional e-learning modules that will be recognized through the award of an LIBF digital badge and accredited for CPD purposes.

There has to be an aim for any education programme and we want to provide a programme of learning to people who may be new to the specialist property finance industry and who could be either joining a lender or diversifying into the sector as a broker. It will cover the basics on specialist property finance and the structure of different types of businesses that might require it, with specific information on bridging and short term finance, development finance, commercial mortgages and specialist buy to let. For each area, there will be insights into how they work and how they are underwritten and the differences within each sector. It will also look at the essentials of how commercial lenders and brokers operate to help broaden understanding across the industry and some of the key planning considerations needed in commercial property finance, including permitted developments.

However, this programme has to cover a wide range of individuals including brokers with more knowledge of, and experience in, commercial finance, possibly through working in mainstream lenders, but with no experience of brokering or those wishing to have that accreditation.

The final module of the programme will be a series of case studies, where the learner will be given different scenarios and will need to identify key information, such as how the lending will be categorised, what key additional information the broker will need to package the case, how it will be underwritten and the likelihood of it being agreed.

This is going to be a subject that will have very polarized views across the Industry. There are many in recent conversations and at recent events that see increased learning and education as always a positive thing. We must remember that at the heart of the whole borrowing experience are the consumers, our customers. For them the best outcome will always be through advisers who know their subject and lenders who have a more holistic understanding of the whole process. We want to encourage engagement across the industry, not just as a one-off participation, but as part of an ongoing environment of continuing learning. Which of course opens up the debate on mandatory requirements for an exam or a programme of learning to make it essential to trade.

The current plans are that there will be no pass/fail of the programme, the case study ‘scores’ will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the learning, For this to be effective, each of the modules included in the programme will need to have clear learning objectives and the case studies will need to test the attainment of these. The content of these modules will be aimed at a similar level 3 qualification in commercial finance which the LIBF previously offered.

I look forward to all the ongoing discussions and welcome comments, because we need this to get the final programme exactly right for every stakeholder.