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.”
Openwork completes record £5.7bn mortgages in Q1
This comes amid the addition of 245 mortgage and protection advisers to its cohort over the period.
This includes Andrews Property Group, which joined Openwork last month and took its total number of mortgage and protection advisers to 2,500.
A further 46 appointed representative firms and 337 advisers are also set to join Openwork in the coming months.
The group’s record completions also follows its three per cent rise in total mortgage completions last year, which hit £19bn.
John Cupis, managing director, mortgages and protection, at The Openwork Partnership, said: “The record first quarter for mortgage completions puts us on course for another strong year with the stamp duty holiday and mortgage guarantee scheme providing a boost for business.
“The mortgage business at The Openwork Partnership is really benefiting from the growth in recruitment and the addition of new firms and advisers who are helping to drive expansion.”
Stephen Wildgoose, recruitment and growth director at The Openwork Partnership, said: “Our recruitment results in 2020 and moving into 2021 have been incredibly strong.
“In an ever-changing landscape professional advisers who have an appetite to grow their business, expand their qualifications and broaden their offering to clients are increasingly turning to The Openwork Partnership.”
Andrews Property Group joins Openwork Partnership
Established in 1946, Bristol-based Andrews said it is joining the network to expand its client offering to include holistic wealth advice helping it to deepen client relationships and diversify income streams.
The addition of Andrews means there are now more than 2,500 mortgage and protection advisers within The Openwork Partnership, with a further 200 advisers in the pipeline, said the network.
The group has 4,200 financial advisers across the UK and operates as a directly authorised, multi-panel distribution network.
The Openwork Group is majority-owned by the Openwork Partnership LLP with its employees holding a minority stake.
The Openwork Partnership has completed a rebrand and continues to expand the network, its distribution and proposition.
Paul Bumford, chief operating officer at Andrews, said: “We chose The Openwork Partnership because of its award-winning mortgage proposition as well as the strong cultural fit between the businesses.
“Offering a wider choice of solutions to our clients is important to Andrews and we look forward to working with everyone across the network as we expand our advice offering to new and existing clients looking for support across mortgages, protection and wealth.”
John Cupis, managing director, mortgages and protection, at The Openwork Partnership, added: “We would like to welcome everyone at Andrews and their business partners to Openwork and look forward to helping them to deliver on their ambitions plans over the coming months and years.
“There has never been a better time to join our network and I believe that our holistic proposition makes us an exciting partner for advisers up and down the country.”
Openwork expands lifetime mortgage lender panel
The Swindon-headquartered company will now work with five new lenders on its panel to introduce a range of lump sum and drawdown lifetime propositions.
Openwork said that the panel lenders – Aviva, Canada Life, Hodge, Legal & General, LV= and More 2 Life – had been selected for “their track record” of offering “competitive products” for consumers backed by impressive customer service.
John Cupis, mortgage director at Openwork, said: “The future for lifetime mortgage advice will include all events surrounding the lives of clients, who may also have other income or significant pensions that should be considered to ensure the best outcomes.
These lifetime mortgages will gradually be introduced on a pilot basis ahead of an expected full launch to all qualified advisers early next year.
The new partnerships will build on the test of Openwork’s monthly income drawdown lifetime mortgage, launched in partnership in conjunction with Canada Life in January.
“Expanding our equity release proposition means advisers can offer their clients truly holistic advice over the long-term alongside support with affordability-based mortgages as well as pensions and investments,” Cupis added.
Openwork has more than 3,900 financial advisers operating across the UK. It operates as a “directly authorised, multi-panel distribution network”.
In June, Openwork appointed Michael Cauchois to the post of regional recruitment manager for the south to accelerate its growth in the mortgage and protection market. Cauchois joined from Intrinsic and was previously business development manager at Huddersfield-based Sandringham Financial partners.
Openwork launches tailored risk reports to boost protection take-up
Brokers can access customer specific mortgage and protection costs with a risk assessment based on individual circumstances, with all information displayed on screen throughout the course of the mortgage application.
Information can also be printed out to allow advisers to distribute the details to customers.
Openwork said the combination of its personal risk reports with wider changes made to the submission process at the network has seen higher conversion rates and better protected customers.
During November and December 2016, protection sales increased by more than 25% compared to the average months before launch, Openwork said, with over 125,000 clients protected during the course of 2016.
Paul Elliott from Manchester-based broker Money and Mortgages, said: “I really like the look of the new reports and have had success already with clients where I can now confidently explain the full range of options of life cover, critical illness and income protection linked to the risk of life events happening.”
John Cupis (pictured), mortgage director at Openwork, added: “Our aim is to ensure that all customers receive high quality, appropriate advice to protect themselves and their families when making, in most cases, the biggest financial commitment of their lives in the form of a mortgage.”
Openwork mortgage completions pass £8bn by Q3-end
Mortgage director John Cupis (pictured) said the firm was “optimistic” it would outstrip its 2016 lending target of £10bn. In May, the firm revealed that it intended to write more than £10bn of mortgage business during 2016 following a lending surge.
This year, more than 360 advisers have joined Openwork bringing the total membership to almost 3,100 advisers. It said growth has been driven by a combination of new advisory businesses such as Just Mortgages, the financial advisory business of Spicerhaart, which left Legal and General to join the network in January, and existing firms expanding their adviser numbers.
Openwork has made a number of additions to its lender panel this year with Tesco Bank, Fleet Mortgages, Danske Bank, Kent Reliance and Hodge Lifetime all joining. In addition, the firm appointed Stephen Wildgoose as recruitment and growth director in October, to report to Cupis.
Cupis said: “It is extremely gratifying that lending has been so strong this year, particularly as it represents a significant uplift on 2015. We have a very strong pipeline of new advisers planning to join Openwork which is testament to our stable and supportive environment for firms looking to serve more customers.
“Openwork is growing, is profitable, and is uniquely majority owned by our advisers themselves. With many weeks left before the end of the year, we are optimistic that we will continue to drive strong lending flows and significantly exceed our 2016 target of £10bn”.
Knock-on effect of MCD means consumers face secured loan fee lottery
In an attempt to create a level playing field between mortgages and second charges, the Mortgage Credit Directive (MCD), which dictates seconds must be discussed at every refinancing interview, has opened the door to the unequal treatment of consumers.
When the new rules landed in March this year, most mortgage networks decided not to allow their intermediaries to advise on ‘seconds’ for fear of a regulatory breach by dabbling in a corner of the market they didn’t fully understand.
Instead, networks chose their own second charge partners, called master brokers, to advise on and secure the finance on behalf of the consumer, which appointed representatives (AR) are obliged to use. The result of some of these commercial arrangements has the potential to cause huge detriment to consumers as analysis revealed a borrower could pay between £2,250 and £5,825 for the same loan, depending on the brokers’ network membership.
The FCA flagged networks’ commercial relationships as a concern in May this year when it reviewed competition in the mortgage market. The regulator criticised large broker networks for having a stranglehold on the market and promised to launch a study into consumers’ ability to make choices in Q4 this year.
Game of roulette
Mortgage Solutions’ investigation looked at the closed distribution relationships of TenetLime, Mortgage Advice Bureau (MAB), Personal Touch Financial Services, Intrinsic, Sesame and Openwork.
The findings (see table) showed consumers looking for a second charge loan of £120,000 would pay £3,575 more in fees if the broker was an AR of TenetLime rather than Intrinsic, which recently introduced a cap on master broker fees.
Borrowers looking for smaller sums are subjected to the same game of roulette, as a loan of £5,000 could cost £1,080 through the TenetLime network but £350 through PTFS.
Using three different loan amounts, £5,000, £60,000 and £120,000 and a property valuation of £350,000, Mortgage Solutions examined networks’ fee structures to calculate how much the arrangement of a secured loan would cost the consumer. All fees include valuation costs and introducing adviser fees.
||Promise Solutions, Gateway
||Declined to disclose
||Declined to disclose
||Declined to disclose
||Enterprise Finance, Positive Lending, Promise Solutions
||Declined to disclose
||Declined to disclose
||Declined to disclose
||Enterprise Finance, Norton
These are max. fees; master brokers can charge less
Brightstar, Positive Lending, Fluent Money, VLoans, Enterprise Finance
Several master brokers appear on different network panels and are allowed to charge different fees for the same loan balances, depending on the network’s contractual relationship.
In recent months, some networks have already begun to rein in master broker fees. Intrinsic’s master brokers can charge no more than 4% with a monetary cap of £2,000, while other networks have imposed a sliding scale, dictating how much brokers can charge for different loan amounts.
David Carrington, PTFS sales and marketing director, said the market was shifting and fees would ‘inevitability fall’, with a review of his network’s fee structure due to take place in September.
Gemma Harle, managing director of TenetLime, described the market as ‘difficult to control’ as some master brokers had not embraced the new regime.
Shrouded in secrecy
Openwork and Sesame refused to disclose their customer fee-charging structures, leaving two of the biggest networks in the UK shrouded in secrecy.
Head of relationship management at Sesame, Jane Benjamin, said the network was ‘very comfortable’ with its proposition and did not see the merit in getting into a running debate on specific fee levels.
Openwork’s mortgage director John Cupis said the pre-MCD contract it had with Enterprise, its sole second charge broker, would be reviewed in September and declined to discuss the current structure.
Sources have told Mortgage Solutions that Enterprise does not have set fee scale and that fees are decided on a case by case basis. Enterprise declined to comment on these points but said the fee scale started at 3%.
Chris Fairfax, MD of master broker Positive Lending, which recently introduced a flat master broker fee of £995 with valuation costs added on top, said: “In the new world of second charge mortgages you need to be a volume business to be successful because fees have to come down.”
“We’ve been preparing our business model for what we think the future will look like in two to three years’ time and perhaps we have been premature in offering the flat fee but it’s done now and we already reaping the benefits.”
Consumers with a directly authorised (DA) mortgage broker, stand a greater chance of paying much less for the advice and arrangement of a second charge as DAs can go direct to the lender.
Michelle Niziol, director of DA firm Independent Mortgage Solutions, said if she has a second charge customer, she rings around all the second charge lenders to find the best solution and then places the case directly.
Precise Mortgages confirmed that for a loan of £60,000, on a property valuation of £350,000, the costs involved if the broker went direct would be; a £295 non-refundable assessment fee, a valuation fee of £250 and a product fee of £300. Niziol said she would charge around £750, making the directly authorised cost £1,595.
“As a DA we have total freedom on where and how we place our second charge cases,” said Niziol. “The network route certainly appears expensive.”
The Financial Conduct Authority declined to comment on whether the second charge distribution channels of networks were treating customers fairly or if it intended to take any action.
Openwork reveals H2 strategy for mortgage brokers
Cupis (pictured), formerly managing director of mortgages at Sesame, joined Openwork in February this year at the same time as the network split out its main business streams into wealth, mortgages and protection.
Speaking to Mortgage Solutions he said the network was currently reviewing the agreement with its sole second charge master broker, Enterprise, which will be completed by the end of September. The fees currently charged to customers for Enterprise’s services, which Cupis would not disclose, were referred to as pre-MCD.
On track for November, following feedback from advisers, Openwork has developed a system which will allow advisers to produce a combined income protection, critical illness and term assurance life cover quote. This will allow advisers to show the costs and benefits of taking protection policies against the cost of the mortgage they are advising on.
Running alongside this, will be an improved process of capturing the reason why consumers do or do not want to take protection policies. This information can then be used as the basis for training advisers in cases where they have been unsuccessful in selling protection.
“We’ve already road-tested these processes so we know advisers are keen to use them,” said Cupis.
Openwork has started an internal review on how to solve the problem of giving advice to customers who have reached retirement age and considering the merits of unlocking the wealth trapped in their homes.
Cupis said the network recognised the growing importance of the later life mortgage market but having conversations about equity release or lending into retirement should be had in tandem with a pensions review.
“We want consumers at retirement age to received holistic advice about their pension and the equity in their homes which would require advisers with investment and mortgage permissions,” said Cupis. “Internally, we’re trying to look at how to bring them together.”
Cupis said that recruiting more advisers was high on his agenda. He said a ‘small but expanding’ team had been put in place to focus on attracting more members to the network.
Technology improvements remain one of Openwork’s longer-term policies, with plans to have an entirely digital CRM system ready to show advisers next year.
Capricorn agrees five-year AR deal extension with Openwork
The agreement follows Openwork’s announcement earlier this month that it will offer a dedicated mortgage service for high-net-worth clients via Capricorn Private Clients, the mortgage broker’s large loan team.
Capricorn, which became an AR of Openwork in 2006, is one of the network’s fastest growing mortgage practices.
The firm has 32 advisers working across four London offices and is seeking to expand to 60 advisers by 2019. Over the same time period, Capricorn is aiming to triple its mortgage completions from £1bn to £3bn.
John Cupis, mortgage director at Openwork (pictured), said: “We are thrilled to have such a young and dynamic business such as Capricorn commit to the network for another five years. Capricorn has been with us for a decade now and we believe this new agreement speaks volumes about the strength of the Openwork proposition and our modern approach to the mortgage market.”
Conor Murphy, chief executive at Capricorn Financial, said: “The network is a perfect fit for our business and we look forward to further developing and strengthening our longstanding relationship as we seek to achieve our ambitious plans for growth over the coming years.”
Openwork is a financial services partnership with around 3,000 financial advisers operating across the UK. It operates as a directly authorised, multi-panel distribution network.
The Openwork Group is owned – via ordinary shares – by its advisers with a 67.5% share, 7.5% by its employees and 25% by Zurich Insurance Company.
Openwork teams up with large loan specialist
Capricorn’s large loan team, Capricorn Private Clients, will accept referrals from other firms within the network on behalf of their UK and international clients.
The broker firm joined Openwork in 2006, a year after its launch and has grown its workforce to 32 advisers with a target in excess of £1bn for arranged mortgages this year.
John Cupis (pictured), mortgage director at Openwork, said: “We are excited to announce that Openwork advisers will now be able to arrange financing for their high-net-worth clients via Capricorn. This adds another important weapon to the Openwork armoury both in the mortgage arena but also more broadly in terms of building our capabilities to support our advisers’ wealthier clients.”
Conor Murphy, chief executive at Capricorn Financial, said his firm had strong relationships with a variety of lenders, from those on the high street to offshore and international banks.
“We believe our expertise and guidance can help advisers get the right deal for their clients whether they be non-dom, expat or simply in need of a large loan,” he said.