Together works hard to help people and businesses achieve their property ambitions, while getting to know the people behind the numbers.
We speak to business development director, Matt Boggan, about his role and why the company’s unique approach to lending helps it stand out from the crowd.
While some lenders rely on a by-the-book, tick box approach to finance, in today’s ever-changing lending landscape, Together is doing what it’s always done best.
Its ethos has remained unchanged for nearly 50 years – common sense lending for people from all walks of life.
Led by an expert team of property finance specialists, its mission is to help make their clients’ property aspirations a reality.
One of those people is Matt Boggan.
Born and bred in York, he has worked in banking and finance for over two decades.
With a degree in business and finance from Salford University, he admits he “fell” into banking – but soon found his feet and a love for the job.
Since then, his career has seen him working for big-name banks, providing mainstream SME and commercial property lending at NatWest, as well as lending for purpose at Dutch-regulated Triodos Bank.
Unsurprisingly, though, for this humble Yorkshireman, it was the last one that struck a chord – and set the tone for what was to come.
“Before joining Together, my work was mainly centred around social, environmental and cultural purposes. Things like social housing and healthcare. Things that impact – and really matter to – so many people,” he says.
“I spent time developing the North of England arm of the business – my own back yard if you like – and I really enjoyed it. Meeting people out in the real world, building relationships with them and, ultimately, helping them in big, tangible ways.”
“I got a real kick out of it – I realised I had a real appetite for that type of lending – and so when it came to moving on, my hope was to join a company that shared the same desires and goals.
“I’d also just had a little boy, which prompted me to really think about my next steps and make sure I was doing something worthwhile.”
Fortunately for Matt, worthwhile work is Together’s forte.
On a mission to find more ways to say “yes” and open doors that other lenders may have closed, the company works hard to make its commercial finance, personal loans and mortgages more accessible for, as it says, “real people living in the real world”.
With a flexible, human-led approach, it creates lending opportunities for today’s modern world. Anything from developers looking for multi-million development finance loans to complete their latest ambitious property project, to a first-time landlord seeking a buy-to-let mortgage to start building their own investment property portfolio, or an investor needing a bridging loan to buy, refurbish and sell a property for profit.
In terms of personal finance, and unlike many mainstream banks, Together takes into account a potential borrower’s personal circumstances. They could be a director of multiple companies – with a complex income – looking to buy a £3 million mansion, or an NHS nurse wanting to buy their own council flat.
“Together’s human approach to lending was – and still is – a huge pull for me,” says Matt.
“We’re a company that is very much driven by our values and morals. No two cases and no two customers are the same, but one thing always remains – we strive to get to know the people behind the deals.
“For us, it’s all about ‘bigger picture lending’. Every case is considered on its merit. We work hard to understand our clients’ reasons for borrowing, what their goals and hopes are, what their worries are and what’s important to them.
“In doing so, not only are we able to build genuine and trusted relationships with them, we’re also able tailor our services to their specific needs and, ultimately, help them in the best and most effective way possible.
“In a nutshell, Together has never forgotten its roots – how it came to be all those years ago – and that’s evident in the work that it does. It’s why I’m so proud to be part of the team.”
Those roots were put down back in 1974, when Together’s first loan was to a vicar for a £1,000 on a car worth £2,000.
Fast-forward nearly five decades and, from humble beginnings, Together has grown into one of the North West’s most successful private businesses.
An award-winning organisation with 750 employees – most of whom are based at its headquarters in Cheadle, Greater Manchester – and a loan book of more than £6.4 billion.
In his role as business development director, Matt has an almost evangelical zeal for sharing Together’s success story, as well as shining a light on the business’ impressive service offering and meeting new faces.
Something he’s more than happy to do.
“I’m a big believer that, to succeed in this kind of job, you really need to be out more than in,” he says.
“That’s why I spend around half of the working week out on the road, meeting existing and prospective clients, visiting sites, networking and, basically, just being as customer-facing as I can.
“We understand the challenges people can encounter when it comes to accessing finance – especially in the current tough economic climate – which is why visibility, especially when it comes to my job, is so important.
“We want our clients to be able to put names to faces and to see that there’s a real person there to help.
“It’s up to me to fly the flag for the business and to assure our clients that no matter the case type or challenge, whether big or small, we’re in this together.”
The business’ approach to lending has helped all kinds of property professionals realise their vision.
Derelict churches have been transformed into affordable housing. Neglected cat and dog shelters have grown into thriving pet home-from-home businesses. 70-year-old tea rooms have been restored to their former glory. Luxury care homes have been built. Struggling village pubs have been saved.
A feel-good catalogue of happy ending stories that is growing all the time.
“You can’t help but feel proud when you think of those success stories,” says Matt.
“They’re the results of Together’s outside-the-box thinking and focus on customer outcomes. Wherever possible, we try to avoid that ‘computer says no’ scenario and look at ways of making things happen.
“This doesn’t mean cutting corners – in fact, it’s the opposite. We work really hard, with the help of our specialist teams, to find solutions that other lenders might not uncover.
“It’s about doing the right thing for our customers – all of whom are normal people with goals and aspirations. Property dreams, as it were. If we can make those happen, we will.”
Matt says that a focus over the past few months has been promoting Together’s commercial bridging loans and other longer-term finance to Yorkshire’s property entrepreneurs, particularly those looking to bring Brownfield – or previously developed land – back into usage. This follows the announcement of a £1 billion fund from the government as part of its Levelling Up agenda.
According to Together’s own research, up to £53 billion worth of Brownfield land is currently sitting unused and unloved and the lender wants to support investors and developers in creating more homes, offices and leisure spaces for the people of Yorkshire.
“Brownfield offers up so much potential for the region,” says Matt.
“Our analysis of data, provided by data company Searchland, estimates that there’s enough Brownfield land in Yorkshire to build 175,600 new homes.
“Developing this unused and unloved land would give people a chance to get on the property ladder and build new lives and communities.”
The disused land could also be used for building Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBS) to meet the huge current demand, with more than 200,000 students across the region’s universities, Matt says.
“Landlords and developers should bear in mind the potential value of increasing their portfolios by investing in student housing. High demand, low supply and record university admissions highlight the gains to be made and looking to Brownfield land for such developments could be fruitful.
“York is already seeing such plans coming to fruition, with a new four-storey, 275-bed scheme which will include a gym, yoga studio, games room, cinema, co-working space and communal dining areas.
“Developments like these help nurture a community and create a truly desirable space – factors which will undoubtedly appeal to Yorkshire’s student populations.
“At Together, we recognise the need for lenders who are flexible enough to meet the requirements of developers and investors and can work quickly to provide the finance needed for them to achieve their ambitions.”
For more information, visit togethermoney.com