Evolution Money launches app to cut processing and completion times

Evolution Money launches app to cut processing and completion times


It includes an app, Evolution Money, which features a deeper fact-find questionnaire, know your customer data collection, digital ID verification and, document collection and storage.

Users can e-sign documents, book an appointment and receive status updates through the tool.

Open Banking via account score populates Evolution’s income and expenditure assessments.

The firm said the app allowed it to change its contact strategy, deliver the automation of its income and affordability assessments, and integrate all elements into a bespoke CRM system to help streamline the advice process.

It added that in the trial implementation stage, there was a significant reduction in funding times and efficiency gains within the entire operation.

The lender has ongoing plans to continue to develop the digital journey including a continuation of its ability to embed AI and machine learning into the process, to offer customers better products and making stronger-informed credit-risk decisions.

The app is available to download from both Android and Apple app stores.

Matt Meecham, chief digital officer at Evolution Money, said: “This transformation project began with a number of relatively minor, but significant changes, and quickly gathered momentum to help us integrate smarter technology into the mortgage application process.

“By doing this we could provide efficient, responsible lending decisions by simplifying the entire process and – through the clever use of tools – we could utilise technological advancements to streamline our online digital acquisition strategy.

“Our app has a customer focus, but advisers also benefit in terms of the efficiencies it adds to the process, the speed it delivers and our ability to secure smarter data collection. All parties also benefit from better communication, and a continued support and commitment structure from Evolution.

“This is an exciting moment for Evolution as we launch this digital journey fully into the market, and we are committed to more fintech-based enhancements that will bring a considerable benefit to both advisers and their second-charge clients.”

Remortgages jump by a quarter in April – LMS

Remortgages jump by a quarter in April – LMS


It comes after a series of rate increases by the Bank of England with base rate now standing at one per cent.

Almost half of borrowers increased their loan size in April, according to LMS, with an average monthly increase of £208.

More than half of borrowers took out a five-year fixed rate product.

The figures suggest homeowners are looking to lock in borrowing as mortgage rates rise.

More than a quarter said the main aim when remortgaging was to release equity in the property.

The average remortgage loan amount in London and the South East was £320,400, double the £151,635 average for the rest of the UK.

Instructions of remortgages fell, but this is likely to be due to the timing of Easter, according to Nick Chadbourne, chief executive at LMS (pictured).

He said: “We always see a drop in instructions over the Easter period, especially since it fell near the start of a new quarter this year.

“We will see this increase again as consumers are looking to make savings in light of the cost of living crisis and continued base rate rises – they are likely to look for competitive fixed rate products, especially in the run up to the next ERC date which we expect to be in late June or early July.

“As such, lenders need to continue working closely with suppliers to assist people in finding the right products for them. Collaboration will be more important than ever to ensure further demands on market capacity can be mitigated and handled efficiently.”

Equity release plans treble in a year

Equity release plans treble in a year


There were 1,557 plans available at the end of the first quarter of last year, from 547 in the same period of 2021, according to Key Partnerships.

As well as an increase in plans, the referral arm of Key Later Life Finance said there has been increased innovation across the market over the past 12 months.

All equity release customers can now make penalty-free partial repayments following the stipulation by the Equity Release Council earlier this year.

Last year, roughly 60 per cent of customers could partially repay loans without being charged.

Fixed early repayment charges, which make it easier and more affordable for customers to switch loan, are currently a feature on around 979 plans or just over 60 per cent of the market, according to Key Partnerships.

Other plans also include downsizing protection, lending on sheltered properties and allow interest payments.

Jason Ruse, business development director at Key Group said: “The expansion of the number of plans available on the market has been remarkable with the last year seeing the number nearly treble.

“Developments in the market and the innovation in product design reflect the growth in lending and the demand from customers for more flexibility underlining how equity release has become a true later life lending market.

“The rapid widening of choice emphasises the importance of expert independent advice for customers and the need for advisers to stay up to date with what is a growing and fast-changing market. Advisers who do not regularly work in the market should consider whether setting up a referral relationship might not be a better idea.”

Rent rises at fastest pace since the financial crisis

Rent rises at fastest pace since the financial crisis

Average rent jumped 11 per cent to £995 in the first quarter of 2022, according to property website Zoopla.

Tenants now pay an extra £88 a month in rent on average compared to the start of the pandemic, meaning they’re spending a larger proportion of gross income on housing.

In London, a single renter faces spending more than half of earnings on rent, according to Zoopla.

A new let agreed for an average rental property in the capital will cost more than £20,000 in rent over the next 12 months, after rents have grown in the city by 15 per cent annually.

Across the UK, the average rent now accounts for over a third of gross income for a single earner.

Rising rents have pushed tenants to typically stay in properties for an extra five months compared to five years ago. The average tenancy length has grown to 75 weeks, from 51 weeks at the start of 2017.

Meanwhile demand for rental property continues to outpace supply across the country, which is pushing up rental costs, Zoopla said.

Rental demand is strongest in Scotland, Wales and London, with demand levels more than 65 per cent above the five-year average.

The most affordable rental markets for dual earners tend to be located in more rural areas including Great Yarmouth in the East of England, South Somerset in the South West and North East Lincolnshire in Yorkshire and the Humber, according to Zoopla.

Gráinne Gilmore, head of research at Zoopla, said: “UK rental growth is being driven by high rental demand and limited supply, trends that are more pronounced in city centres.  The surge of post-pandemic pent-up rental demand will normalise through Q2 and Q3 however, which means rental growth levels will start to ease.

“Affordability considerations will also start to put a limit on further rental growth although this may occur at different times depending on location. Rents are likely to continue rising for longer in areas which have the most constrained stock levels – currently London, Scotland and the South West.”

Rent in Kensington costs more than average annual salary – Paragon

Rent in Kensington costs more than average annual salary – Paragon


In Kensington and Chelsea average annual rents totalled £36,520 per year – higher than average local incomes of £34,157, according to Paragon.

Westminster was found to be second least affordable with rent costing 81 per cent of local annual salaries on average followed by Hammersmith and Fulham with rent accounting for 61 per cent of salary.

Tenants in the capital often spread rental costs with others, resulting in London having the highest proportion of UK renters who share a property with people outside of their family.

Copeland, Ribble Valley and Staffordshire Moorlands were the most affordable places to privately rent in England last year.

Renting a property in Copeland, Cumbria, costs £5,236 a year, after taking local average salaries into account, rent accounts for 10.5 per cent of average earnings.

Across England, the average salary of £30,264 equated to 32 per cent of the average rent.

Affordability also correlates with property size. Renting an average four-bed home in England costs 60 per cent of salary, a three-bed 41 per cent, followed by properties with two bedrooms at 33 per cent.

Richard Rowntree, Paragon Bank managing director of mortgages (pictured), said: “Our rental affordability index shows considerable variation in how affordable privately rented homes are. A key influence on this is where properties are located with a general trend for more affordable housing being found in the north of England.

“The lower purchase prices for homes in regions such as Yorkshire and The Humber means that investors can keep rent prices relatively low while still covering their overheads.

“It’s important to acknowledge, however, that there is a limit to this, and the current economic conditions mean that it is becoming more expensive to manage a lettings business. Alongside supply of properties that is exceeded by demand, this is placing pressure on rents.

“The government and industry must work together to facilitate investment that will boost the number of homes available to rent, giving tenants more choice and helping to regulate rental costs.”

Evolution Money appoints head of ESG

Evolution Money appoints head of ESG


She previously led the vulnerability strategy for the second-charge lending specialist, and was also heavily involved with the Senior Manager and Certification Regime (SMCR) implementation and roll out.

Harrison has more than 20 years’ experience working within financial services and the public sector mainly in HR.

Reporting directly to chief executive, Steve Brilus, Harrison will be developing Evolution’s ESG credentials and enabling the business to become a leading ethical lender that adds value to all stakeholders.

Harrison said: “Our purpose at Evolution is to create financial inclusion by offering bespoke loans to UK homeowners. By developing a comprehensive ESG strategy we can run our business in a way that creates positive change for our employees, the environment, and our community. I am excited to have the opportunity to shape this strategy with the full support of the Board and shareholders.”

Brilus added: “At Evolution we recognise the importance of ESG within the business, and the wider financial services industry, and therefore it makes absolute sense to appoint Sue who will proactively work on, and guide us, through our ESG strategy. In plain English, both myself and the board want to run a business we can be proud of which goes beyond profit and growth.”

Paradigm appoints senior relationship manager

Paradigm appoints senior relationship manager


She joins the mortgage club with immediate effect and will cover Scotland, Northern Ireland and the North East of England in her new role.

Blackwood will help build relationships with existing firms in those regions and help Paradigm members grow and develop their businesses.

She will also help recruit new firms to Paradigm’s directly authorised (DA) proposition and report to director of membership, Richard Goppy.

Her most recent role was at Santander as a business development manager.

Blackwood has also worked for a number of advisory practices in team manager, case manager and sales support roles.

Goppy said: “As always at Paradigm we look to bring in highly-experienced individuals who fully understand the intermediary market and can offer a wide range of support to member firms within the regions they cover.

“Sarah certainly fits the bill here and has a wealth of experience and knowledge working with, and on behalf of, advisers. We’re delighted to have her join the team and our member firms are going to feel the benefit as she works with them to ensure they get the most out of the market opportunities that Paradigm can offer.”

Blackwood added: “Paradigm has forged a considerable reputation for the strength of its proposition and the range of support it provides to intermediaries, so I’m very pleased to be joining the business dealing directly with member firms.

“I’m looking forward to working with both existing and new contacts within these regions to demonstrate where we can add further value, as they seek to secure the most from their membership. There are a whole host of opportunities to be explored and I can’t wait to get out into the field to share everything Paradigm can offer.”

London rents soar as tenants flood back to the capital

London rents soar as tenants flood back to the capital


Rent in the capital surged by 12.3 per cent annually, the highest growth measured by estate agent Hamptons in almost 10 years.

The average rent for inner London is now £2,513.

Across the UK, the cost of a privately rented home jumped by 9.8 per cent to an average £1,125.

It is the second consecutive month that rent rises in London outpaced the national average, reversing 26 months of lagging behind.

Almost a third of homes let in London this year have been to someone previously living outside the capital. In 2020 just 12 per cent of tenants were moving from outside the capital.

More than half of these new movers were leaving the Home Counties, Hamptons found.

Despite the surge of tenants returning to London, just under a third are moving for work, down from 40 per cent in 2019.

Regionally rents are growing fastest in the South West a rate of 13.9 per cent over the last 12 months.

Growth is driven by lack of homes with 30 per cent fewer properties coming to market this April than last year.

Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons, said: “With Covid being pushed further to the back of people’s minds, life in the capital is slowly returning to its new normal. Tenants are returning to the bright lights of the city and this is driving rental growth to record highs.

“The rise of remote working means that fewer tenants are moving to the capital specifically for work. In fact, a growing number of tenants choosing to live in London are working fully remotely and could live nearly anywhere in the country. The footloose nature of many jobs today means that it will be culture and lifestyle rather than employment that becomes the capital’s biggest draw.”

Brokers ‘frantic’ after BoE rate rise as borrowers worry over mortgage costs

Brokers ‘frantic’ after BoE rate rise as borrowers worry over mortgage costs


Monetary policy makers pushed the base rate up to one per cent last week in a bid to temper inflation.

Lenders have been quick to react, with mortgage rates increasing and expected to climb higher still.

The average two-year fixed rate has now breached three per cent for the first time in seven years, according to Moneyfacts.


Desperate borrowers and busy brokers

Borrowers have become increasingly desperate to grab deals, making life busy for brokers.

Lewis Shaw, founder at Shaw Financial Services, said: “It’s hectic at the moment, to the point I have already blocked out this entire week with no time to turn around.

“However, while rates continue to rise and more people are looking to remortgage, it’s looking as though it won’t stop anytime soon.”

Rhys Schofield, managing director at Peak Mortgages and Protection, added: “Business is absolutely frantic. We’re booked up two weeks in advance at the moment and that’s with working every weekend and evening possible.”


Not just those coming to the end of their fixed-rate term

Imran Hussain, director at Harmony Financial Services, is another broker who has seen a huge jump in his workload.

He said: “I have personally seen a massive increase in enquiries from borrowers who are due to remortgage in the next six months looking to review their options.”

It’s not just clients coming to the end of fixed-rate periods, many borrowers are actively looking to exit their current fixes to grab a deal now, according to Dean Esnard, director at Magni Finance.

He said: “We have seen a huge spike in people looking to remortgage six months before their fixed rate ends. Normally, the majority of borrowers would wait until they are within the last three to four months of their deal and do a simple product transfer.

“However, with rates increasing so quickly, remortgaging before rates increase again can save them thousands of pounds every year.”

Esnard has recently had a client pay a £5,000 early redemption fee to exit a two-year fixed rate in order to lock in a new five-year fixed rate.

He said people are “worried how high rates will be when their current fixed rate expires”.

Matthew Fleming-Duffy, director at Cherry Mortgage and Finance, also said he feels like he is “chasing his tail” at the moment, as clients look for advice despite not being at the end of deals.

He said: “Over 90 per cent of our customers arranging a mortgage in the past two years have opted for fixed rates.

“However, following the recent rate rises, we have certainly seen an influx of enquiries from existing customers looking to review their options many months before the end of their existing deal, which quite honestly makes me feel like I’m chasing my tail a little currently.”

TRM and Mortgage Brain confirm five-year contract and CRM development

TRM and Mortgage Brain confirm five-year contract and CRM development


The network’s 700 members will continue to have full access to Mortgage Brain’s products including Sourcing Brain, Criteria Brain, Affordability Brain, Submissions Brain, and the Key.

TRM members recently migrated to the latest version of Sourcing Brain, bringing enhanced features, usability improvements and the integration of Hometrack AVM.

CRM system to be released this year

Over the last year, Mortgage Brain and TRM have been working together on a time-saving CRM system. The platform is in its testing phase with a trial group of advisers, with plans for a network-wide roll out later this year.

Neil Wyatt, sales and marketing director of Mortgage Brain (pictured), said: “Mortgage Brain’s vision is to completely transform the digital process for brokers.

“Collaborating with our key clients not only ensures their advisers’ needs today are captured but we future-proof the mortgage process with efficiency and intuitive client service at the heart of our development.

“We’re delighted that Adam and the team at TRM share our vision and are as excited as I am to take delivery of what in our joint opinions will be the best CRM on the market.”

Adam Stretton, managing director of The Right Mortgage and Protection Network, added: “We’ve spent a lot of time reviewing the wide variety of technology providers in the market and in all honestly none have come close to the Mortgage Brain offering.

“There is real substance to their products and working closely with them on the development of the new CRM system has given me the confidence it will be the best on the market.”