Meet Will Powell, Development Finance Lending Manager

What was your background before joining HTB?

Prior to joining HTB, I worked in the New Homes and Agency sectors, in roles across Sales, Development Agency and Land Acquisition.

Coming into the Bank at such an early stage in its growth, I was 1 of 5 original members of the Development Finance team, and my experience in the Development sector helped enormously in terms of contacts and understanding in what makes a good deal.

Since that time, we have grown our markets and exposure enormously and expanded our relationships across the SME Developer space.


What does your role entail?

My role on a day-to-day basis involves the assessment, and underwriting, of new Residential Development Finance transactions to SME Developer/Housebuilders in the UK. Primarily, I look after lending in the South East and across the M4 corridor, as far as Bristol in the West and Essex in the East, which is also where I live.

I have a genuine love for property, and the tangible nature of the asset makes for a sense of real satisfaction when a site comes to completion.

In the last few years, competition in this lending space has increased drastically and it has been testament to the customer base we have built that the majority of our business remains through repeat clients who look to us for funding; not just on a single transaction, but across many sites they are building in their specific part of the market.

I have a genuine love for property, and the tangible nature of the asset makes for a sense of real satisfaction when a site comes to completion.


What is unique about your approach to working with clients?

There are many in this market that lend money, but not so many that get it right. When speaking with clients, I always try to put myself in their shoes; what would I want from this deal if I was the Developer?

With any debt financing arrangement there is of course a balance of risk and reward to be struck, but I always start from a position of understanding what the developer wants out of the deal. Are they looking to stretch their equity as far as possible for example? Are they perhaps looking to borrow less but on very keen terms? All of these questions need consideration. We can be extremely competitive when it is a scheme and a client we really want to support.

Once I have considered the wants and needs of the Developer, it is only then that I will present terms on a basis that I think best achieves what they are looking for, whilst of course protecting the interests of the Bank and their capital.


What are the challenges you face in your role?

The challenges in this role are eclectic. No two deals are the same, and every customer has their own individual style and ways of working.

Competition in the market is obviously high, and that in itself presents a challenge in terms of securing and closing on good quality business. Once the deals are live, challenges can come in all forms, and it is here that a proper understanding of the risks in development is key. There are countless variables in Property Development – Planning, Construction, Build Costs, Sales, Title Issues just to name a few. They can all present their challenges, and how they are dealt with is ultimately the variable that we can control.

We understand that not all deals are smooth sailing and as long as we are backing experienced and capable Developers then when problems arise, they can be dealt with in partnership with the lender and not in dispute.


What are some of the key things you expect to see for the housing sector during 2021?

The Housing Sector is currently experiencing a period of huge activity buoyed by Government support and Mortgage Lender activity. Construction sites have never been busier but there is evidently a slowdown in the supply of materials and at what cost they can be obtained.

When Government support dilutes and more normal market conditions return, I would expect to see activity levels soften slightly, albeit there is nothing to indicate that a correction is imminent. The basic economic principles of supply and demand in the UK housing market remain imbalanced, and year on year as a country we are falling well short of delivering the number of homes we require to keep up with population growth.

It is for this reason that I expect to see strong demand continue in our sector, whereby smaller developers are finally able to access the funding they require to plug the gap underneath the larger, more corporate Housebuilder models.


Will Powell is a Lending Manager in our Development Finance team, covering the South. To speak to him about your requirements, contact Will via email on [email protected] or call  07904 956 412. Find out more HTB  Development Finance.