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Business

What makes a great underwriter? A head-to-head discussion.

7 Feb 2022

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Defining what characteristics and skills makes a great underwriter is something which regularly comes up in conversation in the specialist lending market. In the bridging industry, underwriters are responsible for making sure all aspects of a bridging loan are thoroughly investigated and underwritten to ensure that the correct lending decision is made. At the same time, an underwriter needs to act as quickly as possible to achieve fast completions to meet brokers and client’s needs and expectations.

 

So, what makes a great underwriter? We decided to put the question to the experts, by speaking with Laura Carr, Head of Underwriting at Hope Capital and Roz Cawood, Director of Sales at Hope Capital, who both weighed in and provided their thoughts.

Laura Carr:

 

“At Hope Capital, we believe it is in incredibly important for brokers and borrowers to have direct access to underwriters. In the bridging process, it is paramount to talk a case through with a broker so that they can understand the criteria we can lend against and what information we need to carry out by way of due diligence. This enables us to be completely transparent and fully explain the process we’ll be going through.

 

The bridging lending market is very niche and flexible, meaning a solution can be tailored to fit what the broker and their client are looking to achieve. However, if a deal needs to be delivered quickly, which happens in most cases, it is essential the underwriting process is efficient.

 

With the above in mind, there are various traits an underwriter needs to possess if they are going to get the deal across the line on time.

 

Firstly, being detail-oriented is essential – checking information and reports thoroughly and carefully is an integral part of the role. Underwriters need to possess critical thinking skills, be able to think outside the box and be able to ask the right questions to get the detailed information required to underwrite a case accurately, piecing the deal together rather than just processing information.

 

It is also vital for an underwriter to juggle and multitask their workload. A typical workday involves switching back and forth between cases, prioritising responsibilities and organising tasks in terms of importance to manage the time available.

 

Without a shadow of a doubt, having experience and knowledge of the process is also key. However, in the bridging industry, market trends are regularly changing, which is why we have to ensure we keep up to date on the latest information, regularly review our current processes and react to changes quickly and efficiently.

 

Lastly, managing key relationships is paramount to make sure that we all work together to get the deal done!”

Roz Cawood:

 

“A team of great underwriters can make a huge difference in a business, particularly in the specialist lending sector where speed is often of the essence. They really look at the detail of

every case and are able to construct a deal to get it over the line in a way that makes it work for all parties involved – fast.

 

There is no doubt that proactive communication is key, not only to brokers, valuers, solicitors and other parties outside of the business, but also internally, where sharing information and keeping everyone informed of the progress of a deal is vital.

 

When communicating our processes and procedures to brokers, it is essential we can do this in a way which is understandable and digestible. Therefore, by having the option where you can easily speak to the underwriting department, to cross check information and check the details provided are accurate, is extremely valuable. This is why at Hope Capital, we prioritise taking a collaborative effort, so we are all working together and pulling in the same direction.

 

There is nothing worse than a situation where a lender says that they can lend, only to decline the loan at the last-minute, leaving the broker and client high and dry. This is why it is essential the underwriting team are transparent and honest, while also having the ability to explain their rationale as to why a deal can or cannot go ahead.

 

In addition, underwriters need to have a pragmatic approach and be commercially minded. They need to be able to have a can-do attitude and look at ways to make deals work rather than be an audit taker who has a tick box approach. It’s also important to be a good decision maker, and let’s not forget… having a sense of humour always helps too!

 

Ultimately, the underwriting department is the backbone of any lending organisation and is absolutely key to the growth and success of the business.”

 

If you are interested in finding out more information about Hope Capital, speak to the team on 0151 523 5998 or email: hello@hope-capital.co.uk

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