MBT opens its affordability tool to Countrywide advisers
The MBT Affordability platform aims to save brokers time by providing them with results from a wider lender panel without needing to rekey data on multiple lender calculators.
The tool, which helps brokers know how much their clients can afford to borrow, was already being used by Connells Group subsidiaries and Dynamo, loading directly into the Connells point of sale system.
Now, MBT said, Countrywide advisers would also have access to the system as a way to help brokers save time and write more business.
Through a panel of more than 40 residential and 66 buy-to-let lenders MBT Affordability gives brokers an accurate look, rather than merely estimates, at how much their clients can borrow. MBT said results would be available in less than a minute.
Graham Closier, mortgage development director for Connells Group, said: “Due to its accuracy, simplicity and speed, the affordability tool has proven to be a big hit with our mortgage consultants since we partnered with MBT in 2019. The tool gives our consultants the confidence to accurately present affordability results to their customers quickly, rather than spending time manually calculating affordability for multiple lenders.”
Tanya Toumadj (pictured), MBT’s chief executive, said: “We have worked with Connells Group since 2019 and this launch of MBT Affordability to all Countrywide advisors is testament to just how much the platform is able to help brokers in their daily role.”
Second charge market set to ‘become even more competitive’ – Peach
Speaking to Specialist Lending Solutions as part of the Get to Know Your British Specialist Lending Award Winner series, Dynamo’s senior secured loans consultant Rachael Peach (pictured) said: “I believe the second charge market is going to have a really strong start to 2022 and become even more competitive as the year progresses.
“With the cost of living on the rise, more clients may decide to take a close look at their finances to try to reduce their outgoings by consolidating debt. Also, the continuing popularity and necessity of working from home means that I expect the recent increase in property improvements and extensions to continue.”
Peach said lenders had been “amazing and very supportive to brokers in the last year” and that they had been “very fair with criteria and products”.
She said this had made the market “even more competitive”, which was a “really good thing”.
Peach explained: “The second charge market is a very exciting industry and lenders are always looking to make changes and improvements. With regard to clients, I have seen a lot of customers this year looking to do a second [charge] to improve either their financial situation or their property due to Covid-19 and or lockdown.
“Most of the clients are looking beyond Covid-19, however, implementing changes that will improve their lives moving forwards.”
Changes in second charge buy-to-let and self-employed struggles
However, Peach said the emergence of a new lender in the unregulated buy to let market offering low rates could be a challenge for established lenders who may need to revise their buy-to-let second charge proposition to “remain competitive”.
She added that she expected there to be new products and criteria changes as result.
Peach also cited the self-employed sector as one that might struggle in the first six months of the year.
Peach said: “The self-employed are likely to have experienced a bigger decrease in income as a result of lockdown periods, meaning that affordability will be more challenging for them.
“However, the flexibility shown by second charge lenders should ensure an overall strong performance.”
Connells keen for ‘more active role’ in second charges
She added that whilst she was currently the only consultant at Dynamo specialising in second charge mortgages, the acquisition of Connells Group by Dynamo last year presented a “huge opportunity” in 2022.
Peach explained: “Connells are keen to have a more active role in the second charge market and Dynamo will undoubtedly have a big part to play. I am hoping that this new relationship will lead to many more second charge opportunities and to further growth within the department as a direct result.”
Twenty7Tec to roll out Apply integration with Leeds BS
This has now been rolled out to all users of the CloudTwenty7 platform to enable them to submit applications to Leeds Building Society without the need for re-keying.
Twenty7Tec has integrated with Iress Lender Connect software, which Leeds is using to support the transfer of data into its intermediary portal.
Users of CloudTwenty7 will be able to complete a Leeds decision in principle application in the CloudTwenty7 platform, re-using customer data already captured, before passing the data to the Leeds portal and submitting to the lender.
Nathan Reilly (pictured) director of lender relationships at Twenty7Tec said: “From the outset, feedback and engagement from users piloting the Leeds integration has been very positive, so we’re really pleased all CloudTwenty7 users will now be able to benefit from an increased level of efficiency and time saving when submitting applications to Leeds.”
Martese Carton, Leeds Building Society’s head of intermediary distribution, added: “We’re delighted we can now offer this extra functionality to all our intermediary partners after a successful pilot.
“The Twenty7Tec integration rounds off a year filled with innovations and technological improvements to streamline the mortgage journey with Leeds and our investment in our systems and service will continue in 2022.”
The integration with Leeds was in pilot with Mortgage Advice Bureau and Connells Group.
John Cupis begins role as Dynamo’s managing director
Mortgage Solutions broke the exclusive news that Cupis would be joining Dynamo in June of this year.
A well-respected figure in the industry, John Cupis joins Dynamo with more than 30 years’ experience in financial services and 20 years in the mortgage market specifically. His appointment is set to aid further growth and development of Dynamo’s offering within the mortgage sector, following its acquisition by Connells Group in May 2021.
Cupis said: “I am delighted to be joining Dynamo, which benefits from a great team and significant opportunity to build and grow from its already strong base in the specialist, buy-to-let and residential sectors. Having the backing of Connells Group will enable us to go from strength to strength in the coming years, and I look forward to what’s to come.”
Adrian Scott, Connells Group mortgage services director, added: “This is an excellent appointment for Dynamo. John’s experience and knowledge of the mortgage industry is second to none and, with such a firm background, he is perfectly placed to drive forward our plans for the development of Dynamo.”
Dynamo, which was initially known as The Buy to Let Club until a rebrand in 2019, was founded in 2012 and now supports around 3,000 intermediary partners.
The group was bought by Connells Group in a 100 per cent buyout earlier this year, with Dynamo’s chief executive Ying Tan leaving the business in May.
Connells Group is one of the largest estate agency networks, with over 80 local estate agency brands and other brands including Countrywide, Conveyancing Direct and LMS.
Graham Wood joins Mortgage Intelligence as products and partnerships boss
Wood joins from Countrywide where he worked for 26 years. His most recent role was as head of mortgage partnerships. In that role, Graham headed a number of projects and helped to build lender relationships to provide choice for Countrywide advisers.
Mortgage Intelligence was purchased by Connells Group in March this year, the same month Connells completed its £130m acquisition of Countrywide. The company owns three appointed representative networks as well as its Next Intelligence DA mortgage club which has 4,500 members.
Sally Laker, managing director of Mortgage Intelligence, said: “We are really looking forward to working with Graham as part of our team.
“He brings a wealth of knowledge, and a professional approach to the role, both product wise and working closely with all of our business partnerships.”
Aviva and Connells Group extend insurance tie-up for five years
The partnership, which was first formed in 2017, allows Aviva to supply life insurance, critical illness cover, and income protection cover through Connells Group’s mortgage consultant team.
The agreement covers most brands held by Connells Group and The New Homes Group.
Connells Group was acquired by Countrywide in March this year, giving Aviva access to more than 1,250 high street estate agency branches.
Aviva’s protection portfolio distribution director Daren Boys said that it was delighted to continue its partnership with Connells Group, and it had “fresh joint developments in the pipeline” that will improve efficiency, improve the customer journey and protect more customers.
Adrian Scott, Connells Group mortgage services director, said: “We are really pleased to extend our successful partnership with Aviva with a new, single, long-term agreement for our estate agency business. Aviva provides a suite of great products for our customers, and we look forward to building on our strong relationship by developing into new areas over the coming months.”
Connells and LSL divest TM Group to Dye & Durham in multi-million pound deals
Connells Group sold its 64.68 per cent shareholding for £58.7m. LSL sold its 32.34 per cent stake for £29.3m. The two deals, announced on the London Stock Exchange, amounted to 97.02 per cent of TM Group’s shares, for £88m.
Dye & Durham reported in Toronto that it paid CAD $156m (£90.46m) to acquire TM Group.
Matt Proud, chief executive of Dye & Durham, said: “We are pleased to be announcing this latest acquisition as it allows us to further scale our business in the UK and deliver top tier solutions to the property conveyancing market participants who rely on our technology for their day-to-day activities.”
Dye & Durham operates in Canada, Australia, the UK and Ireland.
TM Group provides technology-enabled searches for conveyancers and law firms in England, Wales and Scotland.
David Livesey, Connells Group chief executive, and outgoing chairman of TM Group, said: “We are proud of the business that we built and which is set for further development under the ownership of Dye & Durham. They are the ideal acquirer for TM, enabling it to evolve as part of a global operation and providing a good fit alongside the stable of specialist businesses that they are assembling.
“We are excited for the future of TM Group, wishing the team ongoing success, and look forward to continuing our partnership with them as customers for the long term.”
Connells finalised its takeover of Countrywide in March. Parent company Skipton Building Society said in its annual report and accounts for 2020, “this creates an exciting opportunity to extend our estate agency presence across the UK.”
LSL said the move to divest TM Group shares “further simplifies group structure and provides additional capital for deployment into opportunities to accelerate the group’s growth strategy, in particular financial services”.
LSL sold its stake in conveyancing panel manager LMS in May, with the aim to focus on financial services.
In April, it established new broker firm Pivotal Growth, to be led by Simon Embley, former LSL chairman, in a joint venture with investors Pollen Street Capital.
This week, LSL also announced it appointed former L&G Mortgage Club head of broker relationships and propositions Craig Hall as director of new home financial services, with a brief to manage new build growth including at distributor brands Primis and TMA.
He joins in September.
Openwork’s Cupis to join Dynamo as managing director – exclusive
Dynamo, which was initially known as The Buy to Let Club until a rebrand in 2019, was founded in 2012 and now supports around 3,000 intermediary partners.
The group was bought by Connells Group in a 100 per cent buyout earlier this year, with Dynamo’s and chief executive Ying Tan leaving the business in May.
Connells Group is one of the largest estate agency networks, with over 80 local estate agency brands and other brands like Countrywide, Conveyancing Direct and LMS.
Cupis joined Openwork as mortgage director in 2016 from Sesame Bankhall, where he was managing director of mortgages for around eight years.
He previously worked at Legal & General for around eight years, initially as sales and marketing director and then as mortgage propositions director. Before that he worked at Natwest as mortgage marketing manager for around five years.
A Connells Group spokesperson said: “We’re delighted that John Cupis will be joining us as MD of Dynamo. As a well-known and respected figure in the industry, his expertise in the sector will be an asset to our business and we look forward to welcoming him to the group.”
An Openwork spokesperson said: “We can confirm that The Openwork Partnership’s Mortgage Director, John Cupis, is taking on a new opportunity as managing director at Dynamo and will be leaving The Openwork Partnership.
He added: “We are actively recruiting and John has kindly agreed to stay on for a few months to ensure an orderly handover of his responsibilities. We wish him all the very best in his new venture.”
Connells finalises Countrywide takeover
Countrywide will continue to trade under its existing brands and operate as normal. The surveying and asset management businesses will operate as separate entities to ensure competition and choice in their respective sectors.
Connells will invest into Countrywide’s technology and focus on growing the business.
The acquisition sees Countrywide relieved of £91.9m in debt and avoiding administration. All of its lenders will be repaid this quarter.
The deal was accepted in January by 51 per cent of Countrywide’s shareholders at a value of £130m.
The group will be headed by chief executive David Livesey and management from both companies will oversee the daily operations of Countrywide and the integration of the businesses.
Paul Creffield, group managing director of Countrywide will transition to a part-time role ahead of his retirement.
Livesey said: “Our companies have a long, shared history, competing healthily on the high street and in the industry, and sharing many of the same attributes – a clear strategy to be market leader, to move the property industry forward and to keep our customers and clients at the heart of our activities.
“We look forward to welcoming all our new colleagues into Connells Group, working together on our exciting future and turning Countrywide around for our shared success.”
Skipton BS ups bad loan reserve by 98 per cent to prepare for more economic gloom
The soaring loan impairment charge caused the building society’s total profit before tax to fall by 22.5 per cent from £153.2m to £118.8m.
The building society’s gross mortgage lending was £4.5bn in 2020, a fall of 8 per cent on the previous year according to its annual results.
Meanwhile, the growth of its mortgage book slowed to 8.6 per cent, from 10.3 per cent in 2019.
During the pandemic, Skipton arranged more than 25,000 mortgage payment deferrals as part of the government’s package of coronavirus financial support measures.
Covid-19 has affected every part of the group’s operations, the society reported, as lockdown measures were implemented in the UK, Guernsey and New Zealand.
David Cutter, Skipton group chief executive, said: “Without a doubt 2020 was one of the most challenging years we have ever faced but, despite this, in 2020 Skipton helped 24,557 homeowners to purchase or remortgage their properties, including 5,424 first-time buyers and 5,955 buy-to-let borrowers.”
He added: “Whilst we still reported good group profits for the year, our financial results reflect a challenging period. Our mortgages and savings division has been heavily impacted by increased impairment charges and our estate agency division, Connells, saw all of its UK branches forced to close for two months.
“However, the resilience of Skipton’s business model has allowed the society to maintain strong capital ratios throughout and we look to the future with confidence.”
Connells announced in December that it had reached an agreement with the Countrywide board and its major shareholders to acquire the rival estate agency business.