MAB hires FSE’s James Prosser to direct media and events strategy
Prosser will be tasked with engaging MAB’s advisers and lender community with education and insight content through various multimedia platforms including digital broadcasting, events and publications.
He will step down from his current position as managing director at the Financial Services Expo (FSE), which he founded in 2013. FSE was acquired by Shard Media Group in January last year.
Prosser (pictured) said: “I can’t wait to get going. This is a new role and opportunity to shape something spectacular. As the UK’s most recognised mortgage broker, MAB is an extremely reputable brand and has a direct influence on the lender community. I’m excited to enhance the already strong MAB proposition by delivering thought-provoking content to lenders and brokers through a variety of multimedia platforms.
“The pandemic has forced businesses to think differently about how they share information with individuals and collaborate with other firms, and I believe my wealth of experience in this environment will bring lots of value to the MAB group.”
He added: “I’m really proud of what we achieved with FSE and will be leaving the business in good hands. I’ve no doubt it will continue to flourish under the ownership of SMG, with the return of physical events just around the corner.”
Nottingham Mortgage Services to be sold to Belvoir and serviced by MAB
NMS, which was launched in 2014 and provides tailored advice and searches thousands of mortgages from several lenders, will be sold to the Belvoir Group and 27 NMS team members will move to Belvoir.
They will continue their current work as representatives of MAB, who will take over the provision of the service alongside Belvoir.
Other impacted roles are being supported by The Nottingham, with redeployment options available and no compulsory redundancies.
The new partnership will focus on extending the Society’s digital footprint, especially to its digital-first members who will use the Beehive Money app when it launches later this year.
The Beehive Money App will be the home of all the Society’s online savings accounts, including its Lifetime ISA, and users of the app will also be able to access digital mortgage advice facilitated by MAB.
The Nottingham CEO David Marlow said that there was strong appetite for its digital proposition, with more than 50,000 18-39-old Lifetime ISA savers and a strong cohort of first-time buyers looking to get on the property ladder.
He added: “The evolution of our mortgage proposition and our ambition to provide this digitally, as well as face to face, is further progression in our reinvention journey and reflects our ongoing aim of serving our members with products and services that are relevant to them as individuals and deliver value to them in the most effective and efficient way possible,” he continued.
MAB CEO Peter Brodnicki (pictured) said: “The Society is a modern, mutual organisation with a long legacy of doing the right thing by its members and it’s great to know that with this partnership, we will have the opportunity to provide digital led, in-app mortgage and protection advice, through our experienced advisers who will be helping tens of thousands achieve their home buying goals.”
DIFF podcast: Imposter syndrome makes me worry I’ve been hired ‘to tick a box’
Chloe Hylton, regional manager and surveyor at Legal and General Surveying Services, said although being of mixed heritage had not been a hurdle in her career, her insecurities made her wonder if she had been given a job to fill a quota.
Hylton also questioned if her “more palatable” appearance made her an easy diversity hire.
She said: “I have what a lot of people call ‘light skin privilege’. Most people, when they look at me, they don’t actually think that I am mixed heritage.
“I have quite pale skin and if I straighten my hair, I do think most people think I might have had a bit of lip filler and a bit of fake tan. So, I don’t actually look very ethnically diverse.”
Hylton added: “Whilst I haven’t had any hurdles against me for my ethnicity, there’s always been something in the back of my mind that because I tick a diversity box and a lot of companies do try to up their numbers. . . the way that I look, people’s perception of me might be that I’m more palatable for an ethnic minority. Because I don’t look the way that a lot of other people do, it’s fine and it’s an easier win.”
“Maybe that speaks a bit more to my imposter syndrome that I worry that because I’m a woman and because I do tick some boxes, I’m more of a preferred option because it reflects well on a company,” she said.
Open up the talent pool
When asked how to overcome the feeling that someone had been given a job or promotion because they came from an underrepresented group, Ben Thompson, deputy chief executive of Mortgage Advice Bureau (MAB) said the sector had a responsibility to widen its net when looking for recruits to improve its overall diversity.
He said: “I don’t think as a sector generally we’re trying hard enough to do that at the moment. I think if we look at traditional recruitment agencies and recruitment policies, they archetypally made up of the typical footprint of ethnicity and gender.
“Where we can try a bit harder is to proactively go after real talent that belongs to different categories.”
While he did not agree with the practice of filling quotas to manage statistics, Thompson said widening the scope and looking for people in different areas would open up the talent pool before eventually narrowing to give the role to the most suitable candidate.
He also acknowledged that the mortgage industry had made progress with gender diversity but was still behind on ethnicity.
Signs of imposter syndrome
Thompson said he had not seen evidence of imposter syndrome among his workforce and praised the industry for normalising diversity and giving his colleagues the confidence to feel secure in their roles.
However, Hylton pointed out that the sense of not belonging could present itself in numerous ways that might not be noticeable to others.
She said: “Trying to overachieve, working extra for longer and also if anything does go wrong, how that’s handled internally. The devastation, the worry, the concern that ‘you’re wrong, you’re not good enough,’ and then the spiral out of that.
“It tends to be those kinds of things that you wouldn’t necessarily identify as imposter syndrome but will kind of be evident in some of their actions.”
Hylton said it could also be a sign if someone was unwilling to accept praise for doing a good job.
“When something is either going really well and they won’t want to take the compliment. Or tell you that it was everybody else’s input not theirs.
“Or when something doesn’t go quite that well and it’s the sheer angst, ‘oh my goodness, I’m going to be found out, I shouldn’t be here, I’m not good enough,’ and how that comes out in a workplace,” she added.
Safety concerns as a woman
Although Hylton said her ethnicity had not held her back, she said being a woman meant certain health and safety worries were at the forefront of her mind.
“That centres around lone working. As a woman going into empty properties, dealing with the general public, working at height, there are safety implications with that,” she said.
Hylton said she had got into the habit of asking companies about what safety measures they had in place whenever she was interviewed for a position, which was something her male counterparts might not consider.
She said the surveying industry was already doing well to protect its employees with panic alarms and automated calls to emergency services the onus was on the sector to make these protections clearer so the role of a surveyor would be more appealing to women generally.
Hylton added: “That’s why I ask it in my interviews. Because I’m female and I think it’s important to me. But if a male colleague was interviewing a woman, they might not think to actually push that and make it really clear about the lengths that we as a company go to, to ensure her safety as much as we can.”
New-build market hopes for inclusion in high LTV launches
The scheme was launched to encourage high LTV lending particularly to help first-time buyers, a group which makes up the lion’s share of new-build customers.
Of the eight lenders launching 95 per cent LTV products in the weeks since the scheme was announced in the Budget on 3 March, only one – Aldermore – has said they are for new build purchases. All the product launches so far have all come off lenders’ own backs.
Details of products are still to come from the six major lenders that have committed to the new scheme.
“It will be interesting to see which other lenders join in with 95 per cent LTVs,” said Mobeen Akram, national new homes director at Mortgage Advice Bureau.
“The fact that other lenders are doing 95 per cent product is very encouraging and we’ll see what happens with new builds,” she said.
Help for first-time buyers
The new government-backed mortgages scheme has been compared to the existing Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme, which has been seen as a big success in supporting new-build purchases. The Help to Buy initiative sees government provide a loan, interest-free for the first five years, on a portion of the property value, with lenders offering mortgage products on the remainder.
The initial scheme was offered to first-time buyers (FTBs) and movers on home purchases up to £600,000. Th second iteration of Help to Buy is restricted to FTBs, has price caps and higher rates.
“The first scheme was incredibly successful,” said a spokesperson for the Home Builders Federation (HBF).
The second round of Help to Buy had seen “considerable interest,” HBF added, though it comes with more restrictions.
House builder Barratt Developments welcomed government initiatives to support high LTV lending, but remained unclear on the extent of the latest scheme within the new-build market.
“We’ve been working closely with lenders for some months on how we can support 95 per cent lending on new-build homes, particularly looking ahead to the end of Help to Buy,” said Adrian MacDiarmid, head of mortgage lender relations at Barratt Developments.
“We support government initiatives that allow access to homeownership with a five per cent deposit, so the new 95 per cent LTV mortgage scheme is a positive move. It is in our interest to free up second hand sales, which are an important part of a fully functioning, vibrant housing market.
“However, we are uncertain whether lenders will support new build, under the new scheme, and the rules do not allow participating lenders to support 95 per cent lending through other schemes. So we will also work with those lenders who are not supporting it,” MacDiarmid said.
Securitised lenders excluded
There is talk of at least one large building society looking at high LTV products for the new-build market outside of the scheme. Meanwhile, at least one of the larger lenders committed to new government-backed scheme is said not to be lending on new builds.
Additionally, the scheme is open only to banks and excludes securitised specialist lenders.
Like house builders, new-build brokers are waiting to see what products and rates emerge through the new scheme.
“It is positive step by government to support demand. It’s whether the lender chooses, from a commercial perspective, to participate in the guarantee scheme and the rules and regulations that come with it,” said Craig Hall, head of broker relationships and propositions, L&G Mortgage Club.
“Pre-Covid, we were seeing LTVs creep up to 90 per cent on new-build flats and houses.
“Covid knocked us back. A few lenders withdrew from equity loan, but are now back. What we’re not back to is higher LTVs.
“The more lenders, the more competition, the better the pricing and ultimately we may start to see other lenders go back up the LTV risk curve.
“It may well be baby steps up to 90 on new build and then maybe 95 toward the latter part of the year,” Hall said.
He added that with customers’ financial circumstances changing, whether owing to furlough, redundancy and even divorce, it would be increasingly important to ensure a broad range of lenders can support the market.
For the time being, the new-build sector is holding its breath until more details of products emerge in April.
Tom Nicholson, chief operating officer at house builder Crest Nicholson, added: “We look forward to seeing the positive impact of the mortgage guarantee scheme. We await details of the range of product and pricing that lender will bring to market in April, and sincerely hope they will support house builders by offering high LTV products to new homes customers as well to those buying second hand properties.”
MQube mortgages go live on MAB with firms working on AI-enabled fact find – exclusive
The firms are also working on an artificial intelligence (AI) system to connect the lending process right from the initial broker fact find.
MQube launched its lending brand alongside the MPowered lender hosting platform earlier this month and is now rolling out product availability to advisers.
This initial buy-to-let product offering is available to limited companies, portfolio and individual landlords and will soon be extended to include houses in multiple occupation (HMO).
MQube distribution director Emma Hollingworth (pictured) told Mortgage Solutions that in addition to the MAB launch, agreements had been reached with several distributors and would soon go live.
“We’ve been running a soft launch with five or six advice firms each from five distributors as we want to make sure everything is well tested and broker ready,” Hollingworth said.
“We went live with TMA last week and MAB now and we have contracts signed with a lot of other distributors, so probably over the next six or seven weeks, all being well, we’ll be adding those too.
“But we want to make sure this is controlled, that it’s a really good experience and we’re getting the right service to brokers,” she added.
AI-enabled fact find
At the moment the MPowered Mortgages unregulated buy-to-let products will appear through network and mortgage club sourcing systems and advisers will then need to log in to the MPowered platform to access them and submit applications.
However, Hollingworth revealed the firm has plans to make a straight through process direct from fact find to underwriting, which is being developed as part of an innovation lab partnership with MAB.
“At the moment we are just a standalone system, however our vision ultimately is to connect fact find to underwriter in real time,” Hollingworth continued.
“We’ve formed the artificial intelligence (AI) lab with MAB to explore the opportunities we have to use AI and deep learning in the broker fact find process in the same way we do in the underwriting process.
“That is the plan to work with MAB to develop that process.”
Hollingworth was reluctant to put a timeline on such a development, but noted: “It’s a very agile, fast-paced world. I wouldn’t say this will be long-term, we’re not talking years.”
MAB said it believed implementing AI in the sales process at scale would be the future of the mortgage market.
The broker firm explained that by applying AI at the beginning of the sales process this can reveal customer needs by analysing the information supplied in the mortgage application process, aiding advisers in making appropriate recommendations for products and services, at speed.
Peter Brodnicki, CEO of MAB, added that the two businesses shared an ambition in using AI and deep learning throughout the mortgage process.
“We have a long-term mindset with this partnership and so we’re excited to continue supporting MQube and MPowered as the mortgage application process evolves further,” he said.
Both MQube’s lender hosting platform and it’s own lending offering are based on advanced use of AI, machine learning and rapid access to data.
And the intention is for this to continue with any third-party lenders that join the system along with any extension of the MPowered mortgage products.
“The system doesn’t generally ask anything that we can’t get from data sources or the documents that are uploaded,” Hollingworth said.
“So our platform reads those documents in real time, verifies those documents, reads the data and categorises the data.
“Then the lender’s rules and policy and criteria are applied, so if a lender doesn’t accept someone with a county court judgment (CCJ), because we’re pulling all the data upfront with a soft search, it will find that and tell the broker they can’t go ahead with the case.”
Given this approach it will be vital that brokers have customer documentation ready to upload when submitting the case, rather than waiting for underwriters to request them.
The system can also identify queries and ask the broker for more information directly as the case is being submitted before going to an underwriter.
For example, if there has been an unexpected cash deposit it will ask what this is for and the advisers can reply immediately.
“It’s not just vanilla automated data its quite complicated; we’re reading buy-to-let portfolios, accounts, lots of things, but we’re doing it in real time,” Hollingworth continued.
“That’s presented to the underwriter who will then check the case and it means we can get certainty for the customer with an initial binding offer.”
The funder of this initial £2bn unregulated buy-to-let offering, an unnamed top 15 global bank, requires a physical valuation to confirm the loan.
However, Hollingworth noted that MQube has devised an “automated valuation model on steroids” which uses around 180 bits of property data and provides an early warning to the broker if the values used are not likely to match up.
Once the physical valuation is completed and if everything matches up the offer is formalised.
All core areas of lending
Along with the wider distribution for its own products, MQube is in discussions to add more lenders onto the MPowered platform, although confidentiality agreements restrict many details.
But the aim is to have all key parts of the mortgage market covered.
“We are speaking to a lot more lenders and funders and there will be more added to the platform in 2021 and when we are able to we will announce them,” Hollingworth said.
“It’s our intention to be in all the core areas of lending but this will be subject to our FCA permissions, and we’ll announce more about that when we have those permissions,” she added.
The MPowered range of unregulated buy-to-let mortgages includes two and five-year deals up to 75 per cent loan to value (LTV).
Rates start at 2.94 per cent for a two-year fix at up to 50 per cent LTV for individual landlords and all deals have a 1.5 per cent product fee.
MAB increases completions and mortgage market share and strengthens lead gen partnerships – results
The advice network completed £17.6bn worth of mortgages including product transfers last year, up five per cent from £16.7bn in 2019, according to its annual results.
This was driven primarily by product transfers which were up a remarkable 50 per cent to £2.3bn from £1.5bn in 2019, although new mortgage lending also ticked up slightly from £15.2bn to £15.3bn.
MAB said this gave it a 6.3 per cent market share of new mortgage lending which was up more than a tenth from the 5.7 per cent in 2019.
Overall, the new mortgage lending market dipped nine per cent from £268bn to £243bn in 2020.
Adviser numbers rose eight per cent to 1,580 at the end of the year which included 97 at First Mortgage, which gained fifteen new brokers during the period.
Revenue was up three per cent to £148.3m from £143.7m including £14.7m from First Mortgage and gross profit was up nine per cent to £39.8m.
However, MAB’s statutory profit before tax dipped 16 per cent to £14.9m from £17.7m.
The firm put its weight behind criticism of the “unfair” Financial Services Compensation Scheme levy which it said would cost it around £1.5m in 2021.
“The reaction of other mortgage intermediaries to this unfair allocation of levies has been widely reported and MAB is supporting the challenge by the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI) so that future levies can become better signposted and fairer,” it said.
Boomin partnership and lead generation
MAB will also be increasing its lead generation strategy which it believes will become a major new contributor to its growth plans.
It revealed a partnership with property site Boomin is on the horizon to provide mortgage services across various parts of its platform, following on from similar agreements with Moneybox and its Home Buying Buddy app.
This is part of its aim to widen its customer base by interacting with prospective borrowers sooner.
“Although MAB appointed representative (AR) firms have typically sourced, acquired and serviced customers largely or wholly through their own contacts and relationships, MAB will now be playing an increasingly important role in adding to that lead flow,” it said.
“Reliability, quality and scalability of lead flow drives every aspect of adviser and firm performance, and MAB’s unique business model is key to our ability to drive meaningful lead flow through our partner firms.
“This strategy will in turn increase adviser productivity, drive organic adviser growth and AR firm recruitment, and further enhance consumer brand awareness,” it added.
Chief executive Peter Brodnicki (pictured) noted MAB had seen its pipeline of new ARs build strongly.
However he said that as MAB mainly focused on recruiting larger AR firms, some of these discussions had been delayed by Covid-related restrictions and as a result were unable to conclude at present.
“When restrictions are lifted, we expect these discussions can be quickly concluded,” he said.
Protection and GI revenue
Figures published alongside the results showed MAB generated almost as much revenue from protection and general insurance sales and mortgage completions.
In 2020 45 per cent of all revenue totalling £67.2m came from mortgage procuration fees with 40 per cent of revenue totalling £58.8m from protection and general insurance commission.
This 45 per cent to 40 per cent split was almost identical to the previous year.
It added that since the end of December, it had secured a strong business pipeline, increased adviser numbers by four per cent to 1,637 and taken a 25 per cent stake in FM North East through First Mortgage.
Brodnicki continued: “These results once again demonstrate the resilience of our operating model and the quality and dedication of our management team and staff during a year of exceptional challenges.
“We took quick and decisive action in response to the pandemic that resulted in us not only coming through an incredibly difficult period in great shape and ensuring that our 2020 strategic objectives were met, but also putting ourselves in a strong position to start accelerating growth over the next few years.
“Despite the impact of the pandemic, our profitability and cash generation profile remained strong, which enabled us to reimburse all the government furlough grant income received.”
He also noted that the underlying fundamentals driving levels of consumer demand for housing were strong.
“This level of demand, coupled with the chancellor’s announcements earlier this month of the launch of a mortgage guarantee scheme, an extension of the stamp duty holiday until the end of June and the nil rate band being doubled until the end of September, and the signposted easing and removal of lockdown restrictions, are likely to improve housing activity further,” he added.
MAB releases home buying app to support purchasers
The app aims to give first and next time buyers a plan for the purchase of their home with informative content on the house buying process alongside mortgage and savings calculators.
It includes a checklist which tells users what they need to do before buying a home such as improve their credit rating and increase savings. It explains common purchase terms such as gifted deposits and lets users know when they have saved enough for a deposit with a savings calculator.
The partnership is also part of MAB’s plan to accelerate the adoption of technology into its network.
Life Moments already has a consumer app, FirstHomeCoach, which guides first-time buyers with property purchases. It uses the collected information to determine trends and feeds the data to its business partners.
Similarly, with the Home Buying Buddy app, MAB will use the data obtained to help them understand consumer needs and develop their client offering.
Peter Brodnicki (pictured), CEO of Mortgage Advice Bureau, said: “This is another major step forward in terms of how we can further engage with our customers and offer a more personalised experience.
“It allows us to deliver tangible value to the customer from the early stages of their research process and home buying journey.”
Ben Leonard, CEO and co-founder of Life Moments, said: “Life Moments digital coaching technology engages and nurtures consumers to achieve their life goals. Buying a home is one of the most stressful but exciting life goals and working with MAB, helps us to provide the best tools to consumers, to help them achieve their home ownership dreams.
“This strategic partnership is a great example of how through collaborating with mission-aligned firms, we can help more people play life better.”
Moneybox partners with MAB to launch in-app mortgage advice
Moneybox’s team of mortgage advisers will work as appointed representatives of MAB under the brand Moneybox Mortgages, giving them access to the network’s panel of 90 lenders.
The advisers will be paid a salary, not commission, which Moneybox said would remove product-linked incentives.
The trial version of Moneybox Mortgage Advice will be available initially to certain groups of app users letting them generate a decision in principle using their phone.
Advice will be given to first-time buyers, home movers and those remortgaging – over the phone or through in-app chat.
Customers can use the app’s existing financial products, such as Home-buying Calculator and Time Machine, to track savings and know when they have enough for a deposit.
Information about the home-buying process and how best to save for a deposit will be offered alongside the new service.
Moneybox Mortgages will be offered to all users of the app later this year.
Ben Stanway, co-founder of Moneybox, said: “We want to give people the tools and information they need to save for a deposit, and then the qualified advice to help them make an informed decision on what the right mortgage is for them.
“By offering customers everything they need in one user-friendly service, we want to bring the joy back to home buying,” said.
Peter Brodnicki, CEO of Mortgage Advice Bureau, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Moneybox, which is a very well-respected, customer-first personal finance brand.
“Moneybox customers will now gain access to experienced advisers who will help them to secure a mortgage which best meets their needs – from the many thousands of options available. Investing in future first-time buyers in this way is hugely important, because saving for a deposit is only one of many considerations when planning your first purchase.”
Marcus Brigstocke and Rachel Parris share lockdown woes in MAB comedy skit
The comedy pair, who have been married for less than a year and featured on shows Mock the Week and Have I Got News For You?, covered the awkwardness of Zoom calls and trivias of home working in their routine.
Check out the edited highlights of the performance below:
Top 10 most read mortgage broker stories this week – 22/01/2021
Also among the most read stories was news of industry optimism towards the stamp duty holiday deadline and an upcoming Parliamentary discussion on its extension.
And there was an estate agent getting tripped up by its claims to sell properties for just £1.
Nationwide warns of ‘peak period ahead’ and returns 90 per cent LTV max term
Petition to extend stamp duty holiday secures Parliament debate
NatWest slashes rates by more than two per cent
Buy-to-let mortgage rates hit highest level of Covid crisis – Moneyfacts
Estate agent’s ‘£1’ ad receives complaint as sellers face £300 bill to use own solicitor
Home repossessions to leap more than ten-fold by 2022
Perenna raises £7m to bring Danish-style mortgages to UK
Two mutuals reintroduce 90 per cent LTV mortgages
Ex-Lloyds intermediary MD Mike Jones joins MAB
Still possible to meet stamp duty deadline, lenders and brokers say