ICE Commercial unveils funding line

ICE Commercial has launched its own funding line to provide SMEs with short to medium term business loans.

The commercial mortgage packager and debt management consultant says the move offers a “real alternative” to the current propositions in the marketplace.

ICE Commercial CEO’s Gary Starr said: “ICE has secured funds to assist our intermediaries and their clients. Our funds allow business owners to refinance and raise capital where they may have been turned down by conventional lenders due to a number of reasons; i.e. missed mortgage payments, adverse credit, LTV, no proof of income etc.

“The fund also allows those borrowers to secure the purchase of the many potential bargains out there in the market.”

Starr added: “Over the last few months, through packaging deals for our intermediaries, we have seen that lenders have flocked to the opposite polar of the spectrum and are turning away many good cases, leaving borrowers to fend for themselves. Whilst the market will remain tough well into 2010, we at ICE are very excited to get the product to market whilst trading conditions ease and liquidity returns to the market.”

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Intermediaries key to debt advice

TCF Debt Solutions, the debt management and IVA firm, believes that mortgage brokers and IFAs are in the best position to help families reorganise their finances to cope with debt and the economic downturn.

It adds that they should look to change their business models to take account of the need for dedicated help.

TCF Debt Solutions, which works exclusively through intermediaries, has seen an increase in the number of agency agreements from individual firms recently.

Andy Moody, managing director of TCF Debt Solutions, said: “With the number of new agencies we are opening increasing rapidly, it is clear that some mortgage intermediaries have seen that their future lies in adapting their business model and offering a wider service that starts with helping clients manage their finances better. Before the credit crunch that might have been limited to finding a lending product. However with the downturn really taking effect, the need has never been greater for advisers to look to help clients comprehensively reorganise their finances to cope with the demands of a world where obtaining more credit is no longer realistic or desirable.

“The credit crunch is definitely making people think very carefully about trying to live within their means and there is no one better placed than financial intermediaries to help them. When cheap credit was freely available, it was not fashionable to economise, but the vast majority of the population is now having to make significant adjustments to their lifestyles.

“For those with growing debt problems, the help of intermediaries is going to be invaluable. In the absence of funding liquidity, mortgage and loan brokers can lead a revolution in helping people balance their budgets and relieve the burden of debt.”

OFT withdraws licence from debt advisory firm

The OFT has revoked the consumer credit licence of Matthew St John Crossley trading as the Debt Advisory Company.

Through his websites http://www.thedebtadvisorycompany.co.uk and http://www.advisorsondebt.co.uk, Crossley advertised “free independent and impartial debt advice” to consumers with serious debt problems. These websites have been closed down.

The OFT said it is understood he advised consumers that remortgaging would be the best way to solve their debt problems. The consumers then released up to £30,000 equity in their homes and sent this to Crossley so that he could repay creditors on their behalf.

The OFT found that he had failed to return monies to consumers on request and to make payments to any or all of the consumers’ creditors.

He also charged large initial and ongoing fees that appeared to be disproportionate to the work carried out and made misleading statements and gave misleading advice about the services he provided in order to induce potential clients to enter into a contract.

Such conduct is in clear breach of the OFT’s debt management guidance.

Crossley previously operated across the UK and although his exact current whereabouts are unknown, the OFT has received information suggesting that he may now be living abroad. If he was to continue to offer debt management services to UK consumers he would be committing a criminal offence. He is understood to have previously gone by the names of Matthew Crossley, and Matthew Prevett.

Ray Watson, OFT director for consumer credit, said: “This is one of the most serious cases involving debt management services we have encountered. We have evidence that consumers parted with tens of thousands of pounds and suffered increased financial hardship as a result of Mr St John Crossley’s activities.

“Following their dealings with Mr St John Crossley one consumer was forced to sell his home, another was bankrupted and another found himself facing bankruptcy and the loss of his home.

“If consumers with debt problems need help in resolving their financial problems, they can obtain free advice from a range of charities and organisations. Under no circumstances should they seek such advice from Mr St John Crossley.”

WLM Money Launched! 360degree packaging

WLM Money provide a cross sector financial packaging service, giving introducers more options for their clients having access to a wide variety of products including: Secured Loans, Bridging Finance, Commercial Loans, IVA Debt Management and Equity Release.

Darryl Dhoffer, Commercial Director, said: “In an even tighter market it is becoming increasingly difficult to raise finance for brokers clients. We have the resources to offer alternative options to enhance the clients chances of case completion where other packaging businesses fall down.

“Our 360 degree product range ensures that if your client is arranging finance, WLM Money are able to ensure it is YOU the that they turn to!. Partnering with WLM Money offers you the best chance of client retention”

Call today on 0800 0612820 to register or discuss a case. Alternatively, visit the WLM Money website for more information or to register online.

BDS links with Guardian

The BDS Mortgage Group’s network has embarked upon a new strategic partnership with Guardian Debt Management Ltd to provide a credit management solution for all its appointed representatives.

Following introductory presentations to network members, Guardian and BDS will host a range of free presentations and training days covering all aspects of credit management including identifying solutions and training on Guardian’s unique instant decision system, Casemaster. It is compulsory for ARs to attend these sessions prior to gaining the authority to offer the products and services to their clients.

Guardian is also offering free online ‘taster’ seminars for BDS ARs to get an idea of how credit management works and the solutions that are offered.

Guardian’s range of credit management services include debt management, involuntary arrangements, full and final settlements and sales-and-rent-back schemes.

Bob Hope, sales and marketing director at BDS, said: “There is no doubt that demand for debt management solutions is on the up and many of our ARs view this link with Guardian as an excellent income earning opportunity at a time when they looking to diversify their service offering. I am confident that Guardian’s experience in the mortgage market gives them the best understanding of both broker and clients needs and expectations. I am delighted to be offering yet another first class service addition to our expanding network offering.”

Gary Forrest, chairman of Guardian Debt Management, said: “Amidst current market conditions an increasing number of clients are facing rising mortgage rates, struggling to meet unsecured loan commitments or nearing repossession. These people need accurate advice and access to a wide range of options in order to best resolve their circumstances and, at Guardian, we firmly believe that the mortgage broker is best placed to assist the client in these situations. Often a combination of a debt management programme, full and final settlement, IVA or sale-and-rent-back scheme will be used to stabilise the financial difficulties the client is facing.”

CML and Salans to host arrears management workshop

Salans will be hosting an Arrears Management and Partnership Selection workshop in partnership with the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).

Due to take place on the 9th of July in London, the morning workshop will provide an overview on current arrears and possession levels; lenders’ credit policies and the housing market today. There will also be a look at the future with a discussion on where the UK and US markets may be one year from now. Speakers at the session will be Bob Pannell, head of research and Paul Samter, economist at the CML.

The workshop will also feature group discussions and take a look at what lenders should expect from their solicitors, including how lenders can ensure that the lender’s chosen solicitor is taking a pro-active approach to arrears management.

In the afternoon the workshop will cover asset management. Speaker, Mike Pudney, managing director at Connells Asset Management, will look at pre-action protocol, the advantages on keeping the process in-house, or outsourcing and how an asset manager can add value. Also covered in the afternoon session will be the sale and rent back sector, with John Socha, chair of the National Association of Sale and Rent Back (NASRB), speaking on the subject.

Finally, there will be a debt counselling presentation with David Thorpe, managing director of Excel Debt Recovery. Covered in the presentation will be payment shock and the support and advice that should be offered to borrowers when faced with payment increases and the role that TCF plays in the process.

Also covered in the debt counselling presentation will be buy-to-let and whether it should be treated as a residential or commercial sector. There will also be a study of the appropriate use of an LPS receiver, or management of the account, by the lender.

Sue Anderson, head of member and external relations, said: “The workshop is a useful way for lenders to look at arrears management and ensure that they are comfortable with the processes and also examine the options available to them. The workshop also aims to help delegates understand how important it is to choose their preferred partners carefully.”

Caroline Havers, partner at Salans, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the CML to offer lenders help and advice when dealing with arrears. The workshop aims to offer a wealth of information including presentations on asset management, sale and rent back and effective debt counselling.”

Debts.co.uk acquires Relax Finance for £3m

Consumer debt solutions provider Debts.co.uk has acquired Relax Finance, including Relax Mortgages, for £3m.

It is also being proposed that Debts.co.uk will change its name to the Relax Group.

The acquisition consisted of £1.2m in cash, £1.5m by the issue of 3,333,333 new ordinary shares in the company to the vendors, and £300,000 in the form of an unsecured loan, which bear interest on the amount outstanding at the Barclays Bank base rate.

An application has been made for the 3,333,333 consideration shares in the company to be admitted to trading on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange.

Ian Guy, chief executive officer at Relax and Carl Kroger, director of partnerships at Realx have also joined the board of Debts.co.uk as chief operating officer and sales and marketing director.

Guy has been at Relax since it was founded. He has had a successful career within the financial services industry, including Bright Finance as a director and Black Horse Personal Finance Limited as regional director.

Prior to Relax, Kroger was regional manager at Firstplus Financial Group.

The enlarged group’s strategy will be to take the best elements of both Relax and Debts.co.uk to offer a comprehensive financial solution to consumers.

Paul Carter, chief executive officer of Debts.co.uk, says: “Relax is a company we have admired for some time and who we had already formed a strategic alliance. The potential opportunities for complementary products are compelling. We believe that this acquisition represents a clear logical step in the development of the group and will provide an excellent opportunity for our continued success and further profitable growth. We are pleased that with the acquisition.”