FIBA adding value through its Professional Partners Panel

At FIBA we are continually looking at ways we can help members fine tune the service they provide and one of the areas we have tackled is a common problem in many commercial property financing deals. One of the frustrations that advisers face is finding legal firms which actually have the relevant experience and expertise to deal effectively with the requirements for commercial or specialist property transactions.

Since FIBA was formed, we have had meetings with members, lenders, the wider adviser community and those lawyers who act for the lenders. We heard about many cases where customers were choosing law firms just did not have the necessary sector knowledge to provide an efficient and timely service.

After this consultation late last year, FIBA launched its Professional Partners Panel, dedicated to providing members with a database of legal firms which could demonstrate the necessary knowledge and expertise to handle commercial, bridging and other specialist lending requirements. It has already been of particular value in helping members choose suitable legal representation for their customers.

By establishing our Professional Partners Panel of legal firms, FIBA members have at their fingertips, a powerful resource to match their choice of customer lending solution.

But to make it truly effective, it is vitally important that members feel confident to tell their customers that relying on their ‘family solicitor’ or just picking a name from the phone book can prove to be a false economy and actually lead to problems simply because the firm might not have the necessary skillset.

It also means that lenders’ legal teams have to work harder, handholding the customer’s choice of law firm, if they are not used to the particular vagaries of conveyancing commercial property. So, being able to offer a choice of legal firms, which have been vetted by FIBA in terms of competence and service, adds greatly to the ability of our members to ensure a smooth transaction.

Of course, some lenders will also offer dual representation as an alternative, where their law firm provides a service to the customer as well as acting on the lender’s behalf. Certainly, the advantage of potential cost savings might be of value, but it is still important to emphasise that every customer should be encouraged to seek independent legal advice to ensure that their interests are protected.

None of us go into the process of helping our clients purchase or remortgage commercial property expecting to deliver anything but the best service. However, making use of the Professional Partners Panel has already proved to definitely help FIBA members improve that service and lessen the instances of cases that fail to complete.

Our Professional Partners Panel is just one of the many advantages that FIBA membership offers. If members complete just one more case as a result of using the Panel in a year, it will more than pay for the annual subscription many times over. How is that for value?

Trade Associations provide many other benefits

A good trade body’s primary role is to look after the interest of its members by representing them and their fellow members in the Industry. It is also important that representation can be made when appropriate to the Financial Conduct Authority any other relevant Government body or organisation, on issues that impacts on the future operation of your particular sector.  In our case for example, representing finance professionals, we work very hard, in association with these other parties, to provide our members with a powerful voice to help shape the development of specialist finance and how it can be accessed through the broker channel more readily.

In addition, trade bodies provide access to the kind of support services that every modern adviser needs to build their business. These include training, guidance and assistance, access to a comprehensive network of lenders, detailed product knowledge, industry expert advice and dedicated compliance resources.

Intermediary inspired lending is one of the success stories of the last 10 years. The expansion in the number of lenders and the growing understanding by business owners of the importance of unbiased whole of market advice is the springboard from which advisers can flourish. With borrowers increasingly looking for specialist finance and advice on the funding opportunities that accompanies this, advisers are in demand more and more to provide the service that borrowers really need. At the Financial Intermediary and Broker Association, our members give themselves plenty of opportunities to succeed, by having access to all of those services we offer.