Until this year, Masthaven had never exhibited at the London MBE.
Sure, we have supported the Manchester Expos before and will continue to do so as it emphasises our desire to be a true ‘one size fits all’ bridging lender. London, though, is a different kettle of fish.
After much internal debate and several discussions with the show’s excellent organiser James Prosser, we decided to go for it in 2012. And boy, are we glad we did!
We have attended the London show as interested spectators in all its guises, from Olympia to Earls Court, in previous years. We have organised meetings there, attended seminars and chewed the fat with the lenders on show. It was always going to be a totally different experience exhibiting, but a very enjoyable one.
Official numbers will no doubt emerge in the coming days, but there were almost 1,000 people through the doors on Wednesday and seemingly all of them visited our stand! We thought we had our pitch covered with myself, Richard Angell and Chris Parr from the sales team, as well as Claire Wasbrough, Lizzie String, Louise Young and Andrew Bloom from the underwriting team all present.
From flag fall to around 5.30 pm we were swamped with brokers, introducers and intermediaries wanting to know more about Masthaven: who we were, what we did and how they could use us. At times, all seven of us were talking to different people, with other interested parties forming a mini queue to speak to us in turn. It really was fantastic stuff and, as it was our first show as an exhibitor, we were very happy with the results.
There were a few grumbles from the minority about the lack of ‘real’ lenders exhibiting as the big banks had boycotted the show. While this is technically correct – with only Halifax and Virgin in attendance from the high street – isn’t it a sign of the times? Yes, the likes of Santander, Barclays, Lloyds and RBS were not exhibiting, but how often do we hear in the press that the high street institutes aren’t lending anymore? If this really is the case, maybe that’s why they weren’t there?
Either way, the show served to highlight what strength and depth the financial industry has, with a plethora of bridging lenders present along with more niche funders, such as Borro and Funding Circle. The NACFB and AOBP stands were pretty busy throughout the show, as well as those of the debt management, invoice discount and asset finance firms. I think the show proved what a diverse industry we work in, and long may it continue.
I have personally been in the financial services arena for more than 15 years and in bridging for nearly ten of those, and thought I already knew a large number of potential introducers of business to Masthaven. I left the show with over 40 business cards from brand new prospects, who told me that they used bridging finance for their clients but were interested in placing future cases with Masthaven. This was worth the cost of the stand alone and, along with the great branding and cementing of existing relationships, a reason why MBE 2012 was a roaring success for Masthaven.