Accord has been through a “massive change” over the 18 months before he joined from Legal & General Mortgage Club, according to Duncombe.
He tells Mortgage Solutions how the intermediary arm of Yorkshire Building Society went back to basics to focus on its service and principle-based underwriting, as well as its nationwide sales and telephony team.
The lender is now in much “stronger place”, which is important because, in the current market, lenders can’t just compete on price, according to Duncombe.
He said: “Because prices are so low, it’s very difficult to differentiate purely on price.
“It has to be things like service, which is why we spent a lot of time on the service proposition – making things easy, looking at technology.”
Duncombe is keen to stress his role is now focused on “evolving” the lender rather than rebooting it.
As part of his new remit, he’s to help grow the lender’s reputation among advisers and the market.
He said: “The reputation of Accord has changed significantly over the last 18 months to two years.
“So I’m coming in with something that’s in a really good position, my job is to take that and hopefully continue to grow what we do and how we do it – and get more people to understand and know what we do.”
Duncombe left his role as L&G Mortgage Club director in March, but prior to this worked at Santander, he plans to draw on his range of experiences in the new role.
He said: “Having the experience that I’ve had job wise – working in lending many years and then working for a distributor – you see the best of both worlds; you see all the good things that lenders do, and all the bad things that lenders do.
“And what I can do is hopefully cherry pick some of the really positive things and bring those to Accord.
“That’s the opportunity.”
Making Accord famous
Duncombe wants the lender to become “famous” for its strengths and will be helping Accord to formulate the propositions.
The current focus is on new build, as well as remortgages, tracker products and interest-only.
He said: “The market at the moment is very first-time buyer dominated – a lot of new build and, a lot of remortgage, product transfer.”
Duncombe explained that he wants Accord to be acknowledged as a new build lender – rather than a lender that does new build.
The lender is also focused on buy-to-let, despite the recent pressure from tax and regulatory changes.
Duncombe said: “It’s still an important part of the market going forward – at the moment it’s remortgage… You’ve still got a lot of portfolios… and first-time landlords… the number on first-time buyer level has been really strong… It’s still a sensible investment for a lot people.”
Another area of focus for Accord will be support and education, with the lender planning to provide brokers hints and tips on improving their businesses.
Duncombe said: “That’s really important – how we help brokers write more business and be effective.”
He added: “We just want to keep developing that education – and that’s the next phase for us.”