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In the Spotlight – Nicola Ferguson, commercial and bridging specialist, Clever Lending

Drawing from her financial services background and inspired by her time as an au pair in New York, Nicola has developed expertise in specialist lending through hands-on experience.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Clever Lending? 

I first joined Clever Lending as a case manager in 2019 and worked my way up to paraplanner before starting my current role as a commercial and bridging broker in January this year.

I have worked in financial services for most of my life and joined the industry after a wonderful year as an au pair in New York where I looked after two children. All my knowledge of the specialist lending market has been acquired while on the job.

Before joining Clever Lending, I worked for a small pension transfer company. I am also a fully trained holistic therapist, specialising in reflexology, massage and reiki and an Avon rep.

I have a 17-year-old son called Jack and I enjoy reading, traveling and meals out with friends and my lovely work family.

What misconceptions do you think brokers and their customers have about specialist finance and what pleasantly surprises them the most? 

One major misconception is that we can get a bridging loan completed within 24 hours and that they don’t need to provide that much information to the lender.

It would be great if that were the case, but sadly it takes a little longer than a day to get a bridging case through. That said, once we outline the process and explain how we will take the stress out of the application for them, it seems to make it more manageable.

What seems to surprise brokers the most, particularly those who are not familiar with the specialist finance market, is that we are prepared to guide them through the entire process.

This helps them to get more of an understanding of the sector, which in turn, can enhance their earning potential in the long term.

How does a business such as Clever Lending help brokers with specialist cases and what do you feel is the most important factor for brokers to consider when working in this sector? 

We help brokers by either packaging a case for them or dealing with the client directly while also keeping them in the loop. We are a small team, so clients and brokers are guaranteed to get a one-to-one service when working with us.

I think the most important thing for brokers to do is to always ask questions when they are unsure about anything and not to second guess the information requested as it is usually required because it is always needed.

What minimum amount of information do you need from a broker when helping them with a bridging finance case and, in your experience, what should brokers also ask their customers before they call Clever Lending? 

It is really important to supply us with a detailed synopsis of the case, such as whether it is a purchase, chain break or even a divorce settlement.

We also need to know the value of property, whether there is a mortgage on it, the loan size, in which country the property is being purchased and whether any works need to be done. If work does need to be done, then we will need a breakdown of how much will it cost, how long it will take and whether or not planning permission is needed.

Other factors to consider are the gross development value (GDV) of the property, whether it is an auction purchase, whether the client has any adverse credit and how they are expected to exit the bridging loan – is it through a sale or re-mortgage?

If a broker can get this information before calling us, it will enable me to get a quote for them much more quickly.

When brokers refer their customers to you for advice, how do you keep the broker informed and what does the process look like? 

If we are dealing with the client directly and advising them on a purchase, then we will always keep the introducing broker updated. Generally, this will be by email but they are always welcome to call us for an update.

At key stages of the application process, I would copy the broker into emails to the client such as when the heads of terms are sent out, when the application pack is sent out, when the offer letter is received and once completion takes place.

Lastly, when fees are received, I would then email them to say their commission is on route and to thank them for placing the case with me.

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