NatWest Intermediary Solutions confirms local heroes mortgage adviser awards finalists
The lender is recognising brokers in the industry who have gone beyond everyday expectations to put the customer and their local community at the heart of their firm.
Across the 12 regional categories, firms have been asked to demonstrate their position as a local mortgage and protection expert, their commitment to quality advice, excellent customer outcomes, and their positive contributions using the key areas of environment, inclusivity, wellbeing, charity and community.
Winning firms will evidence how they contribute to limiting climate change and show how they support local charitable or social initiatives in their local community.
In the workplace, firms have programs or policies to encourage inclusivity and the representation of diverse groups across gender, race and ethnicity, ability and disability, religion, culture, age and sexual orientation.
In the wellbeing area, the judges will reward firms that have shown flexibility and empathy towards the needs of their staff and customers over the last 12 months.
Within the community bracket, companies should show how they have supported or made a positive contribution to the local community.
The winners will be revealed at the gala awards ceremony which will be held in Birmingham’s iconic grade 1 listed Town Hall on 10 March.
Luke Christodoulides, NatWest’s national account manager, said the lender was delighted to be hosting the NatWest Intermediary Solutions Local Hero Mortgage Awards again.
“This is an event we’re proud of, as the principles of the scheme and the judging process mirror those set out in the purpose of the bank.
“These firms have exemplified putting the customer and their local community at the heart of everything they do, in addition to providing sound financial advice for those consumers within their locality,” he said.
“We can see again that there are many firms doing exceptional things in their communities. Firms have responded positively to the changes we made to the qualifying criteria this year.
“I would also like to thank each and every firm who submitted a nomination. The quality of the submissions we received for judging were hugely impressive,” he added.
JLM Mortgage Services
Mortgage & Money Management Ltd
P2M Asset Management Ltd
East of England
The Mortgage Mum
Yellow Brick Mortgages
Crystal Clear Financial Services
Downton and Ali Associates
First Mortgage (NE)
Mortgage Advice Bureau New Homes
Fidenti Mortgages & Protection Ltd
Mortgage Planning Services
Money & Mortgages (UK) LPP
The Mortgage Shop N.I.
Argyll Financial Services Ltd
Kyle Financial Limited
Malleny Mortgage Solutions
Charters Financial Services
One 77 Mortgages
Threshold Financial Services Ltd
Forces Family Finance
South West & Wales
Ecclesiastical Financial Advisory Services
TFA – Trusted Financial Advice
The Mortgage Heroes
GIVE Mortgages ltd
SJ Financial Solutions
Yorkshire East Midlands
Opal Mortgage Services
More borrowers with adverse credit aim to seek professional mortgage advice – Pepper
The latest Pepper Money adverse credit study has revealed that 54 per cent of people plan to seek a broker’s advice, compared to the 44 per cent who said the same in spring 2021.
The survey was conducted in October with 4,192 people including 492 who had experienced adverse credit such as missed credit payments or loans, a county court judgement or debt management plan within the last three years.
A quarter said their existing relationship with a broker would motivate them to seek advice while 51 per cent said recommendations from family and friends prompted them to consider this.
However, two-fifths said they would feel uncomfortable speaking with a professional adviser about their finances. Pepper said this highlighted the need for more work to be done to make people feel comfortable.
Some 28 per cent of respondents said they were ‘very worried’ about their mortgage application being declined, a rise from 12 per cent of concerned respondents in spring.
Effect of the pandemic on finances
Regarding the impact of the pandemic on finances, 31 per cent of people said they ‘strongly agree’ that the economic implications of Covid-19 would make it harder for them to get a mortgage.
Around a third of people with adverse credit said the pandemic had negatively affected their personal income, compared to a fifth of the general population.
Paul Adams (pictured), sales director at Pepper Money, said: “It’s great news that more than half of customers with adverse credit would speak to a broker to help them get a mortgage to buy a new property.
“However, at the same time, more than four in 10 still say that they would feel uncomfortable talking to a professional financial adviser about their finances.
“It’s important then that we work harder to break the stigma around missed credit payments and do more to promote the benefits of speaking to a mortgage adviser.”
Buy-to-let lenders in the Christmas spirit – Armstrong
Foundation Home Loans certainly got into the Christmas spirit with a catchily titled ‘festive’ five-year fix.
The five-year fixed rate has a headline rate of 3.04 per cent, a flat product fee of £1,995 and is available for both purchase and remortgage mortgage loans between £250,000 and £1m for buy to let, limited company buy-to-let customers, and portfolio landlords alike. The specialist lender has also separately launched a range of buy-to-let products at 85 per cent loan to value (LTV) for the first time.
Vida also released a suite of winter limited edition products, including a no fee, buy-to-let product up to 75 per cent LTV. The rate for the no-fee limited edition product is 2.94 per cent and is fixed for five years.
The Mortgage Works reduced selected limited company buy-to-let rates by up to 0.20 per cent and added no-fee options to the range. Additionally, the lender introduced a new 10-year fixed buy-to-let mortgage to the suite.
Landbay repriced its limited edition range of five-year fixed rate buy-to-let remortgage products, and introduced a £500 cashback option, payable upon completion. The rates on four of the five products have been reduced by five basis points and the minimum loan value has decreased to £200,000 from £250,000.
Zephyr Homeloans has launched a range of buy-to-let products which offer reduced rates on properties with higher EPC ratings. Properties with a rating of at least a C enjoy a discount of 10 basis points on the new range, with the lower rates applying for houses in multiple occupancy and multi-unit freehold blocks, as well as standard properties.
As a result, rates for two-year standard property products start at 2.54 per cent for loans at 65 per cent LTV. The lender has also cut rates on some products in its range which are aimed at new build properties and flats above commercial properties by an average of 45 basis points. These reductions apply to properties with at least an E rating on their EPC.
Turning our attention to criteria, Dudley Building Society has increased its maximum loan size on expat mortgages from £1m to £1.5m and from £500,000 to £1m for holiday let mortgages.
Natwest announced that small portfolio landlords or those applying for a like-for-like remortgage will be able to apply for additional buy-to-let borrowing with no proof of income required on submission and reduced underwriting. New and existing landlords will be able to apply for additional borrowing with the lender for any legal purpose other than gambling; business purpose (i.e. start up for a new business); or unsecured debt consolidation.
All these additions and enhancements are likely to produce some festive cheer amongst a range of landlords, investors and developers who continue to be active right up until the holiday season kicks off.
Having said that, I’m sure that we’re all in need of a little break after such a frenetic year and let me take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. (Thanks and back to you Cat. Ed)
Covid-impacted self-employed clients with credit blips demand advice and manual underwriting, say brokers
In the last in a video series of four in association with The Mortgage Lender, Greg Cunnington said: “I have a client I’ve dealt with for ten years. He runs a cool business, he designs restaurants, shops and bars all over the world. He took six months off because there was no work globally and it was costing him money to keep the office open. He’s now back up again, with record numbers coming through in Hong Kong. He thought getting a mortgage would be really easy.”
Cunnington explained the client’s existing lender is a top six provider who won’t take the case ‘in a million years’ due to the work break, despite the fact the client’s a great credit risk.
He added that some mainstream lenders are stepping up for the self-employed including Halifax which was doing a lot of ‘common sense underwriting’ on self-employed cases, also mentioning HSBC and Barclays, but TML’s sales and product director Steve Griffiths outlined the specialist lender’s point of difference.
He said: “The example Greg gave there about the customer who closed up for a bit and had a hole in his recent set of accounts. A limited number of mainstream guys would say yes, that’s not a problem. What that means is, as a specialist lender you want to be number three on the recommendation list who will definitely do the deal. I guess that’s the space we’re moving back into again. When you are looking at Covid-income impacted clients, you’re looking at a very short list of mainstream lenders – maybe just one.”
For more on the debate, watch the video below.
Our video panellists include Steve Griffiths sales and product director, The Mortgage Lender, host and group editor of Mortgage Solutions, Victoria Hartley, Greg Cunnington director lender relationships and new homes at Alexander Hall and Andrew Montlake (pictured), managing director Coreco Mortgage Brokers and chairman of AMI.
Sponsored content in association with The Mortgage Lender.
Mortgage brokers among 16 firms to go into default
If a regulated financial firm is no longer trading, and therefore unable to meet any claims themselves, then the FSCS is able to step in and pay that compensation.
The firms which went bust included West Wales Financial Services, which traded as IWA Financial Solutions and Mike Powell Mortgages, which was based in Cross Hands, Carmarthenshire, in Wales.
Acklam Financial, a financial planning and mortgage advice firm in Middlesbrough, has also gone out of business according to the FSCS.
The remaining firms to go bust include:
- A. W. Dallas Financial Services Ltd, which traded as Portfolio Pension Consultancy, and was based in Swansea
- Armstrong Campbell LLP in Newcastle
- Border Cars (Dumfries) Ltd, which traded as BC Motorhomes, BCM, BM Services and Border Cars in Dumfriesshire
- Broadlands Partnership Ltd, which traded as Manning Gee Investments, in Vale of Glamorgan
- Fortuna Wealth Management Ltd, previously Fidelis Wealth Management Ltd, AWG Financial Ltd, in Wolverhampton, WV5 9HR
- Independent Benefit Consultancy Ltd, based in Glasgow
- Lifestyle Financial Consultancy Ltd, based in Herefordshire
- MCE Insurance Company Ltd in Gibraltar
- Meyado Private Wealth Management London Ltd, formerly Berkshire Financial Advisers Ltd, based in London
- Network Direct Limited from Hampshire
- Retirement & Pension Planning Services Ltd, based in South Yorkshire
- Spires Independent Ltd, which traded as Paladin, Tony Castrey Wealth Management, from Staffordshire
- Tramway Financial Management Ltd, based in Warwickshire
- Will Insurance Services Ltd, based in London.
Caroline Rainbird, chief executive at the FSCS, said: “We know it’s stressful when a financial firm stops trading but owes you money. That’s why we have specially trained claims handlers who are here to assist you through every step of the process, and we’ll keep you up to date with our progress. In the 2020/21 financial year we helped more than 52,000 customers get back on track – by either paying them compensation or enabling them to transfer to a new provider for their investment or insurance policy.”
‘Avoid the commoditisation of mortgages and poorer customer outcomes’ – AMI chair Montlake
In the managing director of Coreco Mortgage Broker’s speech at the trade body’s annual dinner, Montlake said: “We have fought your case around escalating fees, with some big successes, whilst other successful battles and negotiations have been carried out behind the scenes, with always the focus remaining on the need for quality advice and the wellbeing of consumers.”
He added: “We are a consumerist industry after all, and it is important to clarify that being consumer focused can still put us at odds with the concept that cheapest is always best. For many of our clients, cheapest would most certainly not be best and we must avoid the commoditisation of mortgages in a way that will inevitably lead to poorer customer outcomes.”
He added greater technology use should strip out inefficiencies but not at the expense of sensible process and proper advice.
“Every so often I read a quote somewhere that basically says a new firm or product is here to fix this broken, unfair industry. It’s often from those who really do not actually have much experience or care about the industry to which they refer. It is important that they are not the only voices government and regulators hear.
“My view is the industry is not broken. It is one of the best run and well-regulated industries in the UK, with a rich vein of talented, professionally qualified and dedicated advisers passionately working all hours for the benefit of their clients,” he said.
“Stats show we are trusted, appreciated and our clients come back time and again to receive good advice. We can all improve, but we are never broken.”
Montlake drew attention to the guides issued by the trade body this year, spanning Brexit, vulnerable customers, and operational resilience. He also flagged the assistance the firms had given advisers with the senior managers regime, PI Cover or claims from notorious claims management firms.
The dinner, which was both the 2020 and 2021 dinners rolled into one, was hosted by Mortgage Solutions’ parent company AE3 Media and sponsored by TSB.
Montlake added: “I would like to thank my predecessor Martin Reynolds for all his personal help and advice, as well as conveying his intense happiness that he managed to miss out on his speech last year.”
Brokers: what will be your biggest strategic investment in 2022?
Mortgage and protection network launches with eye on self-employed advisers
Abundance Network was founded by Ravi Badyal and Sehar Zaman who also run mortgage brokerage Your Keys and Protection.
The co-directors said the network was created with the recognition that no two brokers are the same and said “by working in partnership with advisers they identify and provide the help they want and need from their network”.
The network aims to offer its members flexibility in how they work and how they are remunerated. It will also support brokers in growing their own businesses.
Sehar Zaman (pictured, right), managing director, said: “We work in partnership with advisers for the long term. We will support them every step of the way to help them grow their business with the sole aim of helping them succeed in providing a great service for their clients.”
Ravi Badyal (pictured, left), business development director, added: “We’ve combined bespoke support, cutting edge fintech systems and access to the best lenders and specialist services available in the market to help them write business as efficiently as they can.”
MPowered Mortgages joins The Right Mortgage and Protection Network lender panel
MPowered Mortgages’ product offering comes alongside the in-house platform, MPowered, which aims to drive automation and innovation across the mortgage application process. The Right Mortgage advisers will gain access to the system which enables cases to be submitted with a simple document upload and a streamlined application process.
Members will also be able to advise on the lender’s buy-to-let range which includes two and five-year fixed products available up to 80 per cent loan to value (LTV).
The lender offers free valuations and lends on homes in multiple occupancy (HMO) and ex-local authority flats up to 70 per cent LTV. With regards to county court judgments (CCJs), it allows one satisfied up to £250 in last three years. Additionally, any defaults over two years will be ignored.
Emma Hollingworth, distribution director at MPowered Mortgages, said: “We’re looking forward to working with The Right Mortgage and Protection Network, and continuing to build a strong relationship with their network members, who can access our full product range focused on making the mortgage application process even smoother for everyone.
“Our data-driven AI-powered technology will ensure that brokers spend less time working on data and more time advising clients and bringing in new business.”
Anita White (pictured) head of provider relationships, at The Right Mortgage & Protection Network said: “We’re very pleased to welcome MPowered Mortgages to our panel. The launch of a new lender is always exciting.
“In today’s busy climate, advisers need tech-driven solutions that are going to give them time back to focus more on their clients – which is exactly what the MPowered proposition will provide them.”
Fixed rates at record low as mortgage choice hits biggest high since 2008
Moneyfacts data showed however the average rates for those with smaller deposits or levels of equity have fallen, with the average two- and five-year fixed rates at a high loan-to-value (LTV) of 95 per cent currently at record lows going back to 2011.
At 5,315, the total number of products available in the residential mortgage sector have risen to the highest since March 2008 at 6,192 available and borrowers now have more choice than they did pre-pandemic with figures from March 2020 at 5,222 products.
Two and five-year average rates increase
For the second consecutive month, the two and five-year overall average fixed rates have both increased, each by 0.05 per cent to 2.34 per cent and 2.64 per cent respectively. This has again been driven by further increases in the average rates in the lower LTV tiers.
Those with smaller deposits or levels of equity saw improvements in the extent of choice on offer to them; rising by a further 76 deals this month, the proportion of the market where products at 90 per cent LTV and above are available rose to over 20 per cent for the first time since March 2020.
Average two and five-year fixed rates at 95 per cent LTV fell for the eighth consecutive month. At 3.09 per cent and 3.39 per cent respectively, these averages are the lowest on Moneyfacts records since 2011.
Eleanor Williams, spokesperson at Moneyfacts, said: “December sees the number of mortgage products on offer rise by 159 to reach 5,315, a level not reached since we recorded 6,192 products on offer in March 2008.
“Availability has now eclipsed that which was offered prior to the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 (5,222) and demonstrates a robust level of recovery in the residential sector.
Raft of choice
“We recorded improvements in the level of choice across the majority of the LTV brackets but most markedly at 90 per cent and 95 per cent LTV where the number of products rose by 39 and 37 products respectively,” continued Williams. “While the number of options for borrowers considering deals in these brackets remains slightly below that recorded in December 2019, when compared year-on-year the improvement is clear.
Moneyfacts confirmed the overall average LTV reached 78.83 per cent – the highest recorded since May 2019 at 78.91 per cent.
“Echoing the trends we noted last month, despite increases in the rates across most of the lower LTV sectors fuelling 0.05 per cent month-on-month rises in overall average fixed rates, is the fact that at the top of the LTV spectrum average rates have dropped again.
“Borrowers with a 10 per cent deposit or equity will find that, following monthly reductions of 0.03 per cent and 0.07 per cent the average two- and five-year fixed rates of 2.51 per cent and 2.95 per cent are currently 1.28 per cent and 0.97 per cent lower than the equivalent rates on offer this time last year,” she said.
Enticing new business
Williams said following the end of the stamp duty holiday which had kept the property market buoyant for much of 2021, providers are now focusing on enticing first-time buyer business, which has often been considered the life blood of the housing market.
“Indeed, those looking to secure a 95 per cent LTV mortgage may be very pleased to note that at 3.09 per cent and 3.39 per cent, the average fixed rates on offer have plummeted to the lowest on our records (which go back to 2011).
Williams continued that due to rising house prices, mortgage affordability concerns and until recently, limited product choice and higher rates, taking that first step onto the property ladder may have felt a distant possibility for many.
“These positive figures may provide some hope to those who dream of owning their own home.”