Hanley BS makes senior operations and technology hires ahead of upgrades
Lynsey Carter (pictured) has been hired as head of operations and Will Jones was appointed head of technology.
The hires come after The Hanley appointed finance director Larne Payne on 1 August.
The society is investing in expertise with a view to improving operations, systems and underwriting practices, enhancing the online application process, including the chat facility, and delivering a raft of system integrations.
The latest appointment would “enable the society to offer a more individual approach to cases and to support intermediaries and borrowers better from application through to completion,” it said.
Mark Selby, chief executive at Hanley Economic BS, added: “We are constantly evaluating the key areas that matter to our intermediary partners and customers and innovating to meet the demands of the modern mortgage market.”
Tipton BS launches later-life fixed mortgages; Canada Life and Responsible Lending tweak products – round-up
Tipton and Coseley
The mutual has launched two fixed rate mortgages for later life lending, available through intermediaries and direct to customers.
The first is a three-year loan at 3.09 per cent with the second a five-year deal at 3.29 per cent.
Both are available for up to £450,000 at a maximum loan to value (LTV) of 75 per cent, subject to affordability criteria and can be used for home purchases and remortgage.
They have a £499 arrangement fee which can be added to the loan, a free standard valuation and a 10 per cent overpayment facility.
Those remortgaging to The Tipton on these products will also benefit from free standard legal fees or £150 cashback if they choose to use their own solicitor.
Later life lending products are available to anyone aged 55 and over, with no upper age limit as long as affordability assessment is satisfactory.
Director of sales and marketing Cammy Amaira (pictured) said: “The launch of the later life fixed rate products affirms our commitment to enable people to own their home at all stages of life.
“By providing a fixed rate product, those who are approaching retirement, or already retired, can manage their budget around a set monthly payment which they know won’t change.”
Canada Life has made a number of changes to its Capital Select range, including adding a Super Lite loan, introducing cashback across the entire range, and enhanced interest rates and LTVs for some products.
The Super Lite product has a monthly interest rate (MER) of 3.21 per cent and an annualised interest rate (AER) of 3.26 per cent.
The addition of the cashback option means borrowers are eligible to receive a lump sum of three percent of the value of their initial loan, which Canada Life believes will prove valuable help in paying legal and adviser fees.
Canada Life Home Finance head of marketing and communications Alice Watson said: “By adding ways to increase the flexibility in our lifetime mortgages we aim to give customers greater control of how they access the equity tied up in their homes.
“As the profile of retirement income continues to evolve, it’s important that lifetime mortgage products are tailored to meet the needs of the growing and increasingly diverse customer base.
“Continued market innovation has seen the number of later life lending products more than double in the space of a year, but to ensure further market growth, we must continue to put customer needs at the heart of what we do.”
Responsible Lending has launched an equity release loan with an MER of 2.98 per cent.
The lender said this undercut the previous lowest rate of 2.99 per cent announced earlier this month by Age Partnership.
The deal is available with or without drawdown, with a minimum loan amount of £10,000 and fixed and defined early repayment charges (ERC).
Customers can repay up to 10 per cent of their loan each year without incurring an ERC. The completion fee is £500.
The 2.98 per cent rate is available on a sliding scale of LTVs dependent on age. For example, a customer aged 70 could access the rate with an LTV of up to 24 per cent, the lender said.
It is available through the company’s sister broker firm Responsible Life.
Responsible Lending noted the intense rate competition had been sparked by a record number of sales in the bulk annuity sector — an industry that secures predictable, low-risk returns to fund retirement income by investing in lifetime mortgages.
“This has continued to drive lifetime mortgage interest rates down across the board this year,” it said.
Managing director Keith Haggart added: “Equity release customers are spoilt for choice with the range of products on offer and, to top it all off, they are seeing rates fall repeatedly.
“Rates on lifetime mortgages are now at historic lows and that’s partly because of their increased popularity but also the way they attract a lot of interest from those managing investments on behalf of annuity providers, as they seek stable, low-risk, long-term returns.”
Brightstar to run specialist lending webinar series for brokers
The series starts with Precise Mortgages highlighting 10 opportunities for brokers to contact landlords within the next year, on Wednesday 11 September.
Then on Thursday 12 September, United Trust Bank will present a webinar on the many uses of bridging finance.
The series is slated to continue throughout the autumn with webinars from Kensington, Masthaven, MTF, Pepper Money and Shawbrook. They are expected to cover topics such as specialist residential, short term lending, second charge mortgages, complex buy-to-let, unsecured business loans and later life lending.
Michelle Westley (pictured), Brightstar Financial’s head of marketing, said: “Borrowers increasingly have a diverse range of circumstances to which lenders are responding. But we still hear of brokers turning away clients with complex requirements believing that they don’t have the time or expertise to identify an appropriate solution.”
“Our autumn webinars series aims to demystify the sector and give brokers direct access to some of the industry’s leading experts. You don’t have to be an expert for you and your clients to benefit from the specialist market. You just need to partner with a business that has the right resource and expertise,” Westley added.
More information is available on the Brightstar website here.
Five-year swap rates fall below two-years for first time since recession
Moneyfacts noted that the last time this happened was on 7 October 2008, the day before the Bank of England made the first of six consecutive monthly cuts to the bank rate, which saw it fall from five per cent to 0.50 per cent by 5 March 2009.
The five year swap rate is currently 0.60 per cent, lower than the two-year swap rate of 0.66 per cent.
Analysis by Moneyfacts showed that the average five-year fixed rate mortgage has fallen from 2.84 per cent to 2.79 per cent in the last three weeks – an indication that significant cuts appear to be taking place since the five-year swap rate drop on 2 August.
As a result, the difference between the average two- and five-year fixed mortgage rates has reduced by 0.03 per cent to 0.32 per cent over the same period.
Highest LTVs unchanged
The largest cuts to five-year fixed mortgage rates have taken place in the maximum 80 per cent loan-to-value (LTV) sector, which has fallen by 0.08 per cent to 2.79 per cent since the beginning of the month.
This is closely followed by the 70 per cent and 85 per cent LTV sectors, which both fell by 0.06 per cent to three per cent and 2.81 per cent respectively.
Darren Cook, finance expert at Moneyfacts, said the cut to five year fixed rates would be “welcome news” to borrowers who wanted to lock into a longer period during economic uncertainty.
“Potential first-time buyers may feel a little hard done by, as the average rate at maximum 95 per cent loan-to-value has remained unchanged at 3.63 per cent since the beginning of the month.”
Jeremy Duncombe, director of intermediary distribution at Accord Mortgages, said: “Fixed rates have always been volatile compared to base rate, as they are impacted by the wider economic picture and market sentiment.
“Current uncertainty clearly demonstrates the need for advice, with the role of the broker being vital in a customer’s decision. Cheapest is not always best, and advice ensures the customer’s circumstances are fully considered before a recommendation is made.”
Quarterly mortgage activity up almost £600m in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
Data from UK Finance showed that the three nations saw combined lending growth of £592m, with Scotland up £373m, Wales rising £137m and Northern Ireland up £82m compared to the period of April to June last year.
All three regions’ increases were driven by higher transaction numbers across the board from first-time buyers, home purchasers and remortgagors.
In Scotland first-time buyers rose 3.5 per cent to 9,160 – the highest figure since Q2 2017 which hit the same number.
There was also a 6.4 per cent rise in home mover mortgages with remortgaging up 15.3 per cent.
Wales saw increases of 6.3 per cent, 1.7 per cent and 7.7 per cent for first-time buyers, homemovers and remortaging respectively.
And Northern Ireland witnessed gains of 4.1 per cent, 4.7 per cent and 16.5 per cent respectively.
Significant gains were also seen when compared with the first three months of 2019, however this appears to match the trend for a busier spring after the slower winter period.
In contrast, remortgaging and home mover activity have dragged down the London market.
There were 6,240 new home mover mortgages completed in London in the second quarter of 2019, three per cent fewer than in the same quarter in 2018.
And the 13,030 remortgages completions show a drop of 9.5 per cent, which UK Finance noted followed a period of strong annual growth in remortgaging in the capital during 2018.
Perhaps encouragingly, the number of first-time buyers rose 1.2 per cent to reach 9,960.
However, all this meant that the value of lending completed was down three per cent or £334m.
Not all doom and gloom
Just Mortgages and Spicerhaart national operations director John Phillips noted that while last week’s, UK Finance Mortgage Trends Report revealed falls in remortgaging, first-time buyer and homemover mortgages across the UK, these figures painted a different picture.
“I think this shows two things; firstly, it reveals just how much London impacts the national figures, and that when you take the capital out of the stats, it is a very different picture,” he said.
“Secondly, it shows that perhaps it is not all doom and gloom as we have been led to believe over the past few months.
“When looked at on a quarterly basis – which you could argue reveals more of a longer term trend than monthly figures – activity is actually increasing, and that is great news for the housing market.”
Yopa chief property analyst Mike Scott agreed, adding: “This data confirms that the housing market is slow in London, especially for home movers, but is still performing well in UK regions other than England where prices are much lower and affordability is much better.
“Despite higher salaries in London, the average first-time buyer mortgage is for 3.8 times the borrower’s gross household income, compared with 3.02 times in Northern Ireland, 3.16 times in Scotland and 3.35 times in Wales.
“Yopa expects to see a further narrowing of the north-south divide in house prices, as London and the South East have reached their affordability limits, while there is still some headroom in the rest of the country,” he added.
Brokers anticipate potential BoE rate cut in event of no-deal Brexit – analysis
The potential for a Bank of England (BoE) rate rise was mooted last week by former head of the civil service Lord Kerslake. He predicted it could happen if the pound hit parity with the dollar in a no-deal situation.
However, brokers were not convinced that a rate rise was particularly likely.
Greg Cunnington, director of lender relationships at brokers Alexander Hall, said: “Lord Kerslake has indicated interest rates may increase if sterling falls and obviously this would potentially lead to mortgage rates rising.
“However we can see with swap rates decreasing in recent months, and with lenders beginning to drop mortgage rates on the back of this, notably Barclays last week, the markets also seem to be thinking interest rates could, in fact, decrease on the back of a potential no-deal Brexit.
“We are seeing clients asking more about two-year products again, on the back of five-year rates being increasingly popular in the last couple of years as the rate differential between the two has lowered.
“Clients are understandably keen to discuss the potential implication this could have. The reality is that mortgage rates are currently very low, and clients remain in a very strong position from a mortgage perspective.
Recession rate cut
Richard Hayes, chief executive, Mojo Mortgages, shared a similar view. “If we’re talking about no-deal Brexit, the reality is that we’re talking about the potential for a recession.
“There are predictions that say the BoE will increase rates and predictions that say it will decrease rates. The only real precedent we have is the most recent recession and it reduced rates to guard against a slowdown in inflation and lack of consumer spending.
“From our perspective, if you see those two traits again, it would be unusual for the BoE to do something different from what it did only a few years ago.
“We have been saying to customers that rates are exceptionally competitive and now’s a good time to fix for either two or five years, depending on your individual circumstances.
“We have definitely seen an increase in customers opting for five year fixed, but there is still a decent chunk of customers buying two years as well, confident that rates might come down in the future,” he said.
Hayes added that lenders’ books of business are now more resilient compared to where they were in 2007 before the credit crunch.
“There has been a more prudent approach to affordability post credit crunch and post the Mortgage Market Review. From an affordability and stress-testing perspective, lenders have been doing a good job of adhering to the rules set out.
“There have been significant changes which mean that lenders going into a potential recession are less concerned, because lending practices are now more appropriate for the times,” Hayes said.
The big lenders were unanimously unwilling to discuss their planning for a potential no-deal Brexit.
Asked what steps they were taking, including in anticipation of a possible rate rise, none of the major lenders was prepared to comment.
Barclays said: “Unfortunately our economists are not available to comment on this topic.”
Lloyds responded: “As you’d expect, this isn’t one we’d be able to give you our thoughts on.”
HSBC stated: “I’m sorry, we don’t have anyone available so are not going to be able to help you on this occasion.”
Nationwide and Royal Bank of Scotland did not reply to requests for comment.
The list of “no comments” was offset to a degree by the lender association UK Finance, which said: “The financial resilience of the banking and finance sector is high and it is well prepared to be able to absorb the cost of any negative economic impact resulting from a disorderly exit.”
Last week’s article by Business Insider quoted Kerslake saying that “the normal response, if you face a run on a currency, is to raise interest rates”.
The pound has dropped by 4.7 per cent against the dollar in the past three months, to $1.21 on 19 August down from $1.27 on 19 May.
The new Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged that the UK will exit the European Union on 31 October with or without a deal.
Former Santander marketing boss Murley joins award-winning equity release broker
Her brief will include looking after equity release and later life clients on the South coast and pursuing her membership of the Equity Release Council standards board.
Viva has won the Best Financial Adviser – five advisers or fewer award at the Equity Release Awards for the last four years and won a British Mortgage Award this year.
Murley was an adviser at Dorset-based Apex CB Financial Planning for two years after running a compliance and risk assessment consultancy practice following several years as head of insurance and sales marketing at Santander.
Murley said: “I am excited to be joining the team at Viva Retirement Solutions to build upon a successful two years advising clients across Dorset with their mortgage requirements in later life.
“This presents an opportunity for me to join a national independent firm with a recognised reputation across the industry. As the sector continues to grow and move towards mainstream, I hope to use my position on the ER Standards Board and my 40 years’ experience in financial services to support the team at Viva in achieving their continued growth.”
Viva director Mark Lambert, said: “We are very pleased to have Liz on board and her appointment only strengthens the best advice offering for our clients in this growing market. We fully support Liz’s role with the Equity Release Council and are delighted to able to offer face to face advice on the South Coast through Liz”.
Viva has plans to grow its business and adviser numbers and is an Appointed Representative of network Stonebridge.
Three quarters of advisers want more education on spotting vulnerable clients
According to a survey of 210 respondents conducted by equity release lender More 2 Life, this is a slight decrease compared with last year’s 88 per cent which suggests that the adviser community is making use of the increased support provided by lenders and other bodies.
Vulnerability is currently a hot topic for the financial services industry and in July, the FCA launched a consultation on its proposed guidance for firms on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers.
Almost all respondents to the survey said it was important to be aware and understand these issues when dealing with equity release clients.
Furthermore, 87 per cent admitted it was difficult to spot vulnerable customers – potentially due to the fact that vulnerability is not a consistent state and can present itself in a number of ways. When asked what proportion of their client bank was vulnerable, 81 per cent felt that less than a fifth fitted into this category, a slight uplift from last year’s 74 per cent and supports the idea that engagement is growing within this community.
FCA must raise the bar
Stuart Wilson, corporate marketing director at More 2 Life, noted that the issue of vulnerability had been at the forefront of the FCA’s work in recent years, particularly through its Financial Lives survey and Approach to Customers consultation, both of which he said “highlighted the great challenge the financial services industry faces when it comes to dealing with vulnerable clients”.
“Indeed, our own research shows that the vast majority of advisers admit to it being difficult to identify vulnerable clients and want more education on the matter.
“This is particularly prevalent in the equity release market where advisers are dealing with older clients and there is a need for the later life industry to work together to give advisers greater information and practical tools to help spot, record and deal with vulnerable customers.”
Wilson added: “However, it’s also important to note that customers can move in and out of a vulnerable state depending on their individual circumstances, so the FCA must continue to monitor the issue and keep raising the bar of how to deal with vulnerable clients effectively to ensure we are addressing the issue fully.”
Advisers need skills and confidence
More 2 Life is also calling on the wider lending market to raise awareness among advisers of the signs of vulnerability and to provide greater education and resources for advisers to better help these customers.
Dave Harris, CEO at More 2 Life, said: “It’s clear that advisers need more support and education to help them identify and serve vulnerable customers to ensure that they provide the right financial outcomes for their situation.”
He continued that the industry needed to work together to give advisers the “skills and confidence” to recognise signs of vulnerability, communicate with clients and manage their requirements effectively.
Harris added: “As the UK’s population ages and a greater number of older homeowners turn towards equity release as a source of income, advisers will be in a vital position to ensure they are able to help all consumers through the advice process and meet their needs in later life, including those who may be potentially vulnerable.”
Ex-broker firm boss Matt Lowndes to step into senior MAB technology role – exclusive
Proposition is the mainly digitally-focused link between distribution and head office ensuring MAB advisers receive the best technology solutions regardless of business model, said MAB, adding that customer acquisition and nurture remain MAB’s focus.
Peter Brodnicki, CEO, at AIM-listed mortgage advice firm MAB said how delighted he is Lowndes is joining the team, adding: “We build our own technology, we have significant resource, and it’s in our DNA but the winners in tech won’t replace brokers but instead make them a clear and compelling choice regardless of the simplicity or complexity of the transaction or the experience and confidence of the consumer.”
He added: “The proposition team is tasked to ensure MAB’s digital capabilities reflect the requirements and ambition of our distribution, our customers, and our lead sources. Matt drove the technology agenda at Coreco, and like MAB, sees the endless benefits that rapidly evolving technology can bring to the intermediary sector and the customer experience.
“Matt is another exciting addition to our team and will help bring our distribution even closer to our highly innovative in-house tech team, leveraging the ideas and expertise of both,” he added.
The Coreco years
Lowndes stepped back from Houndsditch-based London broker Coreco in July after 10 years at the company, with fellow director Andrew Montlake stepping into the role.
Montlake said: “Matt will always be a close friend of mine, Jules and Coreco. We of course wish him all the best in his new role and are sure he will make a real difference to MAB.”
Since 2009, Coreco has grown from a small start-up, to a company of over 50 people and 32 registered individuals. The firm advises on almost £1bn worth of mortgages annually and is now led by Montlake and Julian Ingall, head of the specialist finance division.
Lowndes retains a shareholding in Coreco and also plans to begin an Open University course in data management in his spare time in October.
Lowndes said: “I am excited to take this next step of my journey with a forward-looking and highly innovative company like MAB. It was always important to me that I would be pushed, challenged and expand my knowledge in my next role, and after speaking with Peter and Ben I know that this will be the case. I have known them both a long time and it quickly became clear that this was the challenge I needed.
“This role will give me the opportunity to be able to help deliver innovative solutions that improve both the client and adviser journey. I think I can make a difference and I am absolutely delighted to be joining MAB and can’t wait to get started
“I always said I wanted to ensure my next adventure wouldn’t be boring and this will be far from that.”
Less than a month to Mortgage Solutions Administrator Ivent
The event for administrators and paraplanners is scheduled for Wednesday 18 September when guests can virtually drop in on exhibitor stands and ask questions in real time.
Event speakers will be available to contact online during the day for questions and discussion of the topics.
The Mortgage Solutions Ivent is hosted in a secure online platform that can be accessed from a desktop computer, laptop or mobile device.
The programme of talks begins at 9.30am with ‘An insight into the changing product and advice framework,’ by Chris Pearson, head of intermediary mortgages at HSBC UK for Intermediaries.
Further talks include, at 10.30am: ‘The inside view from an experienced underwriter,’ with Dawn Mirfin, group underwriting director at OneSavings Bank.
And at 11.30am: ‘How to be seen as a concierge for the mortgage process,’ by Jeremy Duncombe, director of intermediary distribution at Accord Mortgages.
The final talk of the morning, at 12.30pm, is: ‘Honing your skills as an effective communicator & developing your time management skills’, by Chris Croft, of Chris Croft Training.
The afternoon line up begins at 2pm with Matt McCullough, national sales manager at Aldermore, on the topic: ‘The changing lending into retirement market and the needs of a different customer profile’.
And the event wraps up with the final talk of the day, at 3pm: ‘Fight fraud with these five golden rules,’ by Phil Quinn, national account manager of Pepper Money.
For more about the speakers please click here and register for the event here.
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