Mortgage completions grew by 21 per cent in 2018, standing at £7bn, while mortgage application case numbers were up by 11 per cent on the previous year, numbering 47,453 and by volume up by 13 per cent at £8.35bn.
Total life business completion volumes for the group hit £24.7m of life commissions, up by two per cent on 2017, whilst life insurance applications were up by seven per cent on the previous 12-month period.
Over £1.05m of general insurance business was completed in 2018, up 15 per cent on that placed through Stonebridge in 2017, whilst GI application numbers were up by five per cent year-on-year.
In 2018, purchase loans made up 50 per cent of its overall mortgage submissions, however this fell from 55 per cent in 2017, and in December 2018 the monthly percentage had fallen to 43 per cent.
Product transfer business up to 25 per cent
Stonebridge revealed that its product transfer business had moved up to 25 per cent of its remortgage business. Stonebridge also said that its buy-to-let business had remained steady during 2018, holding firm at 17 per cent of its overall business submissions, and 85 per cent of this was for remortgaging.
The network puts its improvement in productivity down to its ongoing recruitment policy which focuses on the quality of its new members not the quantity.
Stonebridge experienced an overall increase in adviser numbers of just over ten per cent, adding 57 new individuals over the course of the last calendar year. The network now has 599 active advisers, spread across 280 AR partner firms.
Stonebridge also announced a number of plans and initiatives which will take place throughout 2019 that are designed to give advisers and AR firms the tools, products and licenses to help them achieve business growth.
Particularly, it announced a number of upgrades to its Revolution system, including a new system for ID verification, better SMS communication, upgraded client surveys and feedback, automatic fee agreement generation, automatic file-checking, the integration of GI Connect, and Dashboard reports for both firm proprietors and advisers.
Brexit uncertainty impacts subdued purchase market
Jo Carrasco, business partnerships director at Stonebridge Group (pictured), said that the company saw lending volumes increase in every single month in 2018, compared to 2017.
She added: “However, in terms of the outlook for the mortgage market in 2019, we have to consider the market uncertainty currently generated by Brexit, and the impact this is having particularly in terms of a subdued purchase market. To a great degree we are moving into unchartered territory which might well mean a slowdown in overall mortgage activity.
“That makes product sectors such as protection and GI even more important and we are keen to help our firms make the most of the opportunity that exists here, particularly in areas like ASU, family protection, relevant life, key person and shareholder protection, plus PMI. Not forgetting buildings and contents because this is the one absolutely mandatory part of the whole process.
“One of our major focuses will be via our Revolution system and ensuring that it is a quality offering that works for advisers, helps them manage their businesses, and ensures they make the most of those opportunities that exist. We have put a significant amount of investment and resource into Revolution and this will continue to be our approach over the course of this year and beyond.”