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In the Spotlight with Tony Sutton of Specialist Financial Services

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In the Spotlight with Tony Sutton of Specialist Financial Services

Secured loan provider Tony Sutton talks fees, trade bodies, criteria and claims management...

 1. You’re the MD at Specialist Finance Group – could you tell us what your day-to-day role involves?

 Overseeing the day-to-day operation of the business and assisting my staff when needed where specialist knowledge is needed. Also marketing, H.R., compliance, making the coffee, etc.

2. What is your background and how did you get into the secured loan market? 

 I left school at 16 to join Midland Bank. After four years I joined Cedar Holdings in 1983 as a trainee underwriter. Cedar was the largest lender in the 1980’s. I rose through the ranks and was eventually head-hunted by a secured loan broker in 1988, and in 1989 I launched my first brokerage.

3. In light of the ongoing financial crisis, what do you think has been the biggest challenge the company has faced since it began?

 Still the same amount of customers but not enough lenders. Those that are lending have restricted criteria to pre-1997 levels.

4. If you could have any super-power in the world what would it be?

a.         To move the parasites within the Claims Management industry to another planet. I’d take with them second charge brokers that charge up-front fees to customers.


b.         To do what both Trading Standards and the OFT have failed to do – close down the 90 per cent of secured loan websites in the UK that advertise illegally.

5. In your experience, what are the most common reasons people want to take out a secured loan for?

Usually it’s debt consolidation, home improvements or business purposes. More and more customers are forced down the secured loan route due to mortgage lenders’ increasingly tight lending criteria, and no appetite from banks to lend to business people.

6. If you could ask one famous person any question what and who would you ask?

Can I have your autograph please, Mr (Sugar Ray) Leonard? My all time sporting hero.

7. What is the perception of secured lending as portrayed in the mainstream press; do you think more needs to be done to change the stereotypical view of the industry?

That secured loans are high interest loans with massive redemption penalties that should be avoided at all costs. More work needs to be done by the trade bodies.

8. What significant changes do you think will come into play in the secured lending market over the next 12 months?

The entrance of several new lenders into the market. More competition will ultimately lead to improved lending terms, increased Loan to Values and an even better deal for customers.

9. You’ve been in secured lending for some time now, how have you adapted your processes to reflect the change in times in the secured lending industry market?

Technology plays a huge part in our business but I still approach each application with the same mindset from the 1980’s – how do I get this deal through to completion in the shortest time possible, but still follow Consumer Credit Act law.

10. And finally, what’s the one thing you could never live without?

Not the most original answer, but I am blessed with a wonderful wife, four fantastic children and two beautiful grandchildren. They are my reason for getting up for work each morning – partly because of the noise.



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