It’s an old adage, but at Signature Property Finance the customer really is king. We pride ourselves on acting with clarity, being honest and trustworthy, and delivering on our promises in a timely manner.

Thomas Howells, Legal Director

But the business of property finance is a complex and time-consuming one, involving many individuals. Deals are rarely straightforward and it can often be a bit of a juggling act to ensure that they complete smoothly and swiftly, with everyone in alignment.

This is why at Signature, we are committed to approaching the process a little differently, and that is where I come in. I joined as the firm’s first in-house Legal Director to help streamline our lending process, structure deals and focus our efforts on certainty of funding.

It’s unusual for a lender like Signature to have its own legal provision sitting at the heart of it, as most follow the banks’ examples and have a panel of external law firms they employ to perfect security on their loans.

Before my role at Signature, I was a Partner at a firm on one of these panels, and even though I am now in-house, my primary role hasn’t changed. You could be forgiven for wondering what the value to our clients is to me being in-house, if I am still performing the same function. But look a little closer and there are significant benefits to everyone involved in the deal.

Focus improves performance

I no longer have an extended client base that I need to serve and therefore my focus is 100% on Signature and our clients. As a consequence, anything that needs doing right away can go straight to the top of the pile, and this can only improve the overall service we offer to our clients.

I also work more closely with our team of Relationship Managers (RMs). In private practice, I would have had close contact with up to two of the banks’ RMs, but now, I have constant dialogue with each of Signature’s many RM’s meaning that there is an open conversation regarding new deals before terms are even issued.

They trust and value my input, as I do theirs. And this is reflected in our ability to structure and complete deals promptly, reducing the stress for all involved, which can only be a good thing.

Working collaboratively with the RMs helps them to better understand some of the legal quirks that need to be considered whilst structuring a deal, ultimately helping Signature to deliver on its promise to clients, to deliver the deal first agreed, with no nasty surprises.

This is especially significant when more complex legal issues arise. By having these important conversations early on, potential issues can be identified and ironed out before the legal process formally commences. Previously, any such challenges may not come to light until far later in the day, often causing costly delays or in some cases, scuppering deals completely.

Being able to cultivate such strong relationships is critical to ensuring a more fluid transaction. Having formerly worked as a lawyer in private practice, I have spent years developing a good contact base, which even now adds several benefits to my work and Signature’s clients.

Delivering on our promises

Firstly, brokers that know me well already, understand I actively encourage the discussion of deals before they formally bring them to Signature, especially if there are any legal oddities that could cause problems down the line. Secondly, being in contact with so many brokers and property investors helps me to stay in touch with trends and developments from their respective perspectives.

This in turn, enables me to bring plenty to the table in management discussions and team meetings when we are considering marketing strategies, lending decisions, and policy changes, for example.

With me working in-house, Signature has an advisor who understands the finer details and relationships of its business and can deliver proactive, strategic solutions with an attractive combination of legal know-how and business experience.

Quite simply by having in-house legal resources allows everyone to focus on their own primary functions with clarity, without unnecessary meetings or drawn-out processes. It saves time. And as everyone knows, in this world, time is money.