This fortnight the Blimey BIG interview talks to the firm's owner, Alistair Ewing. He tells us about the firm’s expansion plans, its recent application to the FCA and which three people he'd take to live with him on a desert island.
Q: Blimey Loans has recently applied for its full Financial Conduct Authority authorisation, how did you find the process?
A: Long winded and onerous. It took up a huge amount of time to simply do the prep work needed to even start the application. Our application has been in for five months now and I have no idea how it’s progressing.
Q: What benefits/disadvantages do you think there are for the sector being regulated by the FCA?
A: The over-riding benefit is the credibility that regulation brings and hopefully some synergy with the first charge market once the Mortgage Credit Directive is implemented in 2016. But many brokers will have increased costs as they are forced to adapt systems and processes.
Q: Do you think some broker and lender firms will have to change their practices under the FCA?
A: Yes, I think many firms will have to make huge changes to how they operate, particularly smaller firms with less resources who perhaps have never been FCA regulated before. Our previous business was FSA authorised and I am CeMAP qualified, so we already have a good understanding of what will be expected under the new regime.
Q: Do you find the Scottish secured loan market any different from England’s?
A: Generally speaking there is no real difference – average loan size is probably smaller. A big advantage is the fact that consent to register a second charge is not required in Scotland, which makes it simpler, quicker and often cheaper to process applications.
Q: You recently expanded your business into England, do you feel this is an area of potential growth for secured loans?
A: I think the whole UK has a massive untapped potential for secured loans at the moment.
Q: You have also recently appointed Ian Cruickshank – what will his role be within the business?
A: Primarily to drive business development in the North of England using his many and varied contacts.
Q: What would your ‘dream’ product from a secured loan lender look like right now?
A: No consideration period would be a start, but this will probably come with the changes in regulation.
Q: What one item could you not live without and why?
A: My iPad – predictable I know, but it’s true!
Q: If you were to be stranded on a desert island, which three people dead or alive who would you most like to be stranded with and why?
A: Bear Grylls for his obvious ‘hunter gatherer’ skills, Dave Grohl for entertainment, although he might need a guitar and Salma Hayek – just because.