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One to One: Nicola Goldie, Aldermore

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  • 10/06/2024
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One to One: Nicola Goldie, Aldermore
Each month, Mortgage Solutions and Specialist Lending Solutions sit down with a key intermediary industry figure to discuss strategy, opportunity for brokers and the mortgage marketplace.

This month, Mortgage Solutions is sitting down with Nicola Goldie (pictured), head of strategic partnerships and growth at Aldermore.

How did you get into the mortgage industry?

In all honesty, financial services wasn’t really a career choice at first. Like many I fell into the industry; my early roles were in product development but more in fashion and homewares than anything to do with mortgages. However, I found myself at a bit of a turning point in my life and I applied for two new roles. One a promotion in a catalogue company and the second a product development manager within insurance. I was offered both of the roles and something in me decided to try something new.

So, I took the insurance role and I’ve never really looked back. I progressed from there to third party relationships for travel and home insurance, which in turn led me to intermediaries. With my love for working with intermediaries cemented, I’ve since worked across a variety of brands to develop relationships and propositions to support intermediaries and their customers, notable at Halifax General Insurance, Lloyds Bank and Virgin Money prior to Aldermore.

 

Aldermore reported £15bn in net mortgage lending in the first half of this year. Where was the majority of this lending from and where does the lender see opportunity in the second half of the year?

There were plenty of reasons to be pleased by our most recent set of results. Our 13% growth in operating profit before tax was achieved against a backdrop of ongoing economic challenges, and a property market which was by many experts’ admission at its most subdued in years. Our buy-to-let and asset finance businesses performed particularly well.

Looking ahead, we’re optimistic about what the future holds for our lending business. Some confidence has returned to the property market more generally, which bodes well for the remainder of 2024. As Rightmove itself said recently, we’re likely set for a strong summer in the property market, despite any uncertainty caused by the upcoming general election. We think we’re well placed to take advantage of improving conditions.

 

Buy to let is an important area for the lender. What are the biggest opportunities and challenges in this area in the near-term?

Landlords continue to be a hugely important part of our lending plans. The fact is that the vast majority of landlords do a great job for their tenants in a challenging landscape. Most are good landlords, and these are the borrowers that Aldermore works with, the ones that provide the right standard of property at a rate that’s reasonable in a market struggling with supply issues and a historical shortage of sufficient building.

Interestingly, our own research shows that that 5.2 million private renters in the UK – seven out of every 10 – feel they have a ‘good landlord’. This might surprise many people but not us here at Aldermore, as we see the positive difference landlords can make day-in, day-out. We also know that the average landlord spends about £6,000 a year on their local economy, employing tradespeople such as electricians, architects, and engineers. When extrapolated out to the whole of the UK – with its 2.8 million landlords – that’s an overall contribution of more than £16bn.

In terms of the biggest opportunity, one is that the market is continually moving towards more professional landlords rather than the amateur landlord with one or two properties. For these customers, and looking at how they structure their portfolios, there are options to look at multi-property mortgage products that can save landlords immense time and money over the long term. It’s something we do at Aldermore, along with a few other lenders and the opportunity here isn’t dying down.

The biggest challenge is likely affordability, still. With rates remaining high, this continues to put a strain on landlords’ abilities to remortgage with many still facing steep increases as they come to the end of their fixed rates.

On the residential side, are you seeing growth in any areas and what are plans around the segment?

Aldermore is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to serving the underserved. Fundamentally it’s specialist lenders that are in the best position to make a tangible difference for those often overlooked customers that struggle to get a mortgage.

With that in mind, we recently broadened our range of mortgages targeted towards first-time buyers, as well as the self-employed and those with less than perfect credit histories. We’re now offering more 95% loan to value (LTV) mortgages to a wider range of potential customers, and I’m thrilled that we’re stepping up to empower more people to get onto the property ladder.

 

How is Aldermore competing in the savings arena and do you think specialist lenders may either pursue a banking licence or try to gain access to deposits in another way?

It’s been a fruitful few months for our colleagues in the savings part of the bank. We were named as Forbes 2024 UK’s #1 Best Bank for our savings franchise (based on customer satisfaction feedback). To receive such an accolade, especially when it’s based on what customers themselves say, speaks volumes and we don’t take this for granted.

There’s no point in having fantastic rates but terrible customer service. Equally, you can have the most amazing technology and investment in customer service, but if your products are poor value, you’re not getting the business either. To compete properly you need to marry your products and rates with your service, adjusting based on your objectives and risk appetites. What’s perfect for one savings provider isn’t for another, and fundamentally that’s a good thing for the customer as they’ll get a menu of options. as a result.

There’s always more that can be done and it’s crucial to not get complacent. We’re constantly searching for fresh ways to be creative, offering new types of accounts and criteria enhancements, as well providing good value for savers across a wide range of accounts.

As a specialist lending and savings bank, both sides of our business model are of equal importance. We’ll continue to invest the necessary time and resources to keep growing, keep innovating, and keep our customers happy too.

 

What are the recruitment plans for the business?

We’re now at the point where we’ve got a really strong foundation across the various aspects of our property business, be that underwriting, business development, as well as relationships and distribution. It’s taken time and investment to get the right people in over the last couple of years. That’s now bearing regular fruit and you can see that from our customer and broker satisfaction scores, as well as the levels of lending we’re doing.

We’re always looking to recruit the best talent and nurture that long term. That won’t change.

 

What is the lender’s plan around mortgage distribution? Does it want to build on existing broker relationships, identify new areas or a mixture of both?

Maintaining and growing our relationships with brokers and key accounts is absolutely crucial and we’re always looking for ways to work together with our intermediary partners. We value their feedback on how we can support them and their customers be it through new initiatives, education or service.

I think any lender worth its salt will strive to keep its existing brokers happy whilst making itself attractive to new business as well. Aldermore is no different in that regard.

At Aldermore we’re champions of the value of good advice for customers. It may sound simple but it’s easier said than done. Customers’ needs are often increasingly complex and therefore the expertise of brokers has arguably never been so vital. We know from our own polling of first-time buyers, for example, that more than nine in 10 (91%) first-time buyers recommended the benefits of using a broker in their homebuying journey. It’s a ringing endorsement but certainly no surprise to me.

Lenders also have a key role to play in supporting brokers with educational content on hot topics in the property market and the economy at large. That’s something we throw our weight behind with our popular “Get More with Aldermore” series of webinars.

 

What would you want mortgage brokers to know about Aldermore?

Over the last 12 months we have been working closely with our broker partners developing propositions to support our key lending pillars (buy to let, self-employed, adverse credit and first-time buyers). These are the areas where our brokers have told us they most need solutions.

We prioritise human underwriting; we’re not a “computer says no” style lender, we listen, apply our expertise and we’re flexible where possible.

We offer 95% LTV mortgages to a wide range of first-time buyers, the self-employed and those with historic credit issues.

On buy-to-let multi property applications, we’ll apply just one stress test, on one LTV band, on a single application for up to 30 properties.

Borrowers are more diverse than ever. They might work for themselves, have more than one income stream, experience life’s ups and downs and sometimes fall into financial difficulties. Many aspiring homeowners also struggle to save for a deposit and access the mortgage they need, as we well know.

Fundamentally, we want to help more of your clients and consider all applications in a responsible, open-minded way.

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