Evolution Money launches app to cut processing and completion times

Evolution Money launches app to cut processing and completion times

 

It includes an app, Evolution Money, which features a deeper fact-find questionnaire, know your customer data collection, digital ID verification and, document collection and storage.

Users can e-sign documents, book an appointment and receive status updates through the tool.

Open Banking via account score populates Evolution’s income and expenditure assessments.

The firm said the app allowed it to change its contact strategy, deliver the automation of its income and affordability assessments, and integrate all elements into a bespoke CRM system to help streamline the advice process.

It added that in the trial implementation stage, there was a significant reduction in funding times and efficiency gains within the entire operation.

The lender has ongoing plans to continue to develop the digital journey including a continuation of its ability to embed AI and machine learning into the process, to offer customers better products and making stronger-informed credit-risk decisions.

The app is available to download from both Android and Apple app stores.

Matt Meecham, chief digital officer at Evolution Money, said: “This transformation project began with a number of relatively minor, but significant changes, and quickly gathered momentum to help us integrate smarter technology into the mortgage application process.

“By doing this we could provide efficient, responsible lending decisions by simplifying the entire process and – through the clever use of tools – we could utilise technological advancements to streamline our online digital acquisition strategy.

“Our app has a customer focus, but advisers also benefit in terms of the efficiencies it adds to the process, the speed it delivers and our ability to secure smarter data collection. All parties also benefit from better communication, and a continued support and commitment structure from Evolution.

“This is an exciting moment for Evolution as we launch this digital journey fully into the market, and we are committed to more fintech-based enhancements that will bring a considerable benefit to both advisers and their second-charge clients.”

Remortgages jump by a quarter in April – LMS

Remortgages jump by a quarter in April – LMS

 

It comes after a series of rate increases by the Bank of England with base rate now standing at one per cent.

Almost half of borrowers increased their loan size in April, according to LMS, with an average monthly increase of £208.

More than half of borrowers took out a five-year fixed rate product.

The figures suggest homeowners are looking to lock in borrowing as mortgage rates rise.

More than a quarter said the main aim when remortgaging was to release equity in the property.

The average remortgage loan amount in London and the South East was £320,400, double the £151,635 average for the rest of the UK.

Instructions of remortgages fell, but this is likely to be due to the timing of Easter, according to Nick Chadbourne, chief executive at LMS (pictured).

He said: “We always see a drop in instructions over the Easter period, especially since it fell near the start of a new quarter this year.

“We will see this increase again as consumers are looking to make savings in light of the cost of living crisis and continued base rate rises – they are likely to look for competitive fixed rate products, especially in the run up to the next ERC date which we expect to be in late June or early July.

“As such, lenders need to continue working closely with suppliers to assist people in finding the right products for them. Collaboration will be more important than ever to ensure further demands on market capacity can be mitigated and handled efficiently.”

Paradigm appoints senior relationship manager

Paradigm appoints senior relationship manager

 

She joins the mortgage club with immediate effect and will cover Scotland, Northern Ireland and the North East of England in her new role.

Blackwood will help build relationships with existing firms in those regions and help Paradigm members grow and develop their businesses.

She will also help recruit new firms to Paradigm’s directly authorised (DA) proposition and report to director of membership, Richard Goppy.

Her most recent role was at Santander as a business development manager.

Blackwood has also worked for a number of advisory practices in team manager, case manager and sales support roles.

Goppy said: “As always at Paradigm we look to bring in highly-experienced individuals who fully understand the intermediary market and can offer a wide range of support to member firms within the regions they cover.

“Sarah certainly fits the bill here and has a wealth of experience and knowledge working with, and on behalf of, advisers. We’re delighted to have her join the team and our member firms are going to feel the benefit as she works with them to ensure they get the most out of the market opportunities that Paradigm can offer.”

Blackwood added: “Paradigm has forged a considerable reputation for the strength of its proposition and the range of support it provides to intermediaries, so I’m very pleased to be joining the business dealing directly with member firms.

“I’m looking forward to working with both existing and new contacts within these regions to demonstrate where we can add further value, as they seek to secure the most from their membership. There are a whole host of opportunities to be explored and I can’t wait to get out into the field to share everything Paradigm can offer.”

The British Mortgage Awards 2022 finalists announced

The British Mortgage Awards 2022 finalists announced

 

The awards recognise exceptional individuals in the mortgage sector. Congratulations and good luck to all the finalists. 

 

Broker  

Administrator sponsored by Pepper Money 

Amy Baptiste, LDNfinance 

Chantelle Haley, Brightstar Financial 

Becca Howlett, The Mortgage Broker 

 

Buy to Let sponsored by Paragon 

Graeme Lockwood, Alexander Hall Associates 

Sy Nathan, Dynamo 

Fiona Simpson, The Mortgage Broker 

 

Complex Credit sponsored by Kent Reliance for Intermediaries  

Edward Cook, Wilson Cook 

Stuart Ockleford, Coreco 

Jodi Spreadbury, The Mortgage Broker 

 

First-Time Buyer sponsored by Barclays 

Annabel Dixon, Alexander Hall Associates 

Tara Panayi, Just Mortgages 

Jamie Scott, L&C Mortgages 

 

General Insurance sponsored by Uinsure

Kelsey Harrison, Mortgage Advice Bureau

Anais Middleton, Heron Financial 

Gavin Poulton, Just Mortgages 

 

Large Loans 

Andrew Chalton, LDNfinance 

Nadeen Hall, Mortgage Advice Bureau 

Julian Ingall, Coreco 

 

Later Life Lending 

Darren Johncock, HFMC Wealth 

Matthew Phillips, Age Partnership 

Lee Staniford, Equity Release Experts 

 

New Build sponsored by Skipton Building Society for Intermediaries  

Adam Davis, Just Mortgages 

Shafeen Daya, Alexander Hall Associates 

Scott Richford, Mortgage Advice Bureau 

 

Overall 

Gemma Pritchard, Countrywide Mortgages 

Danny Smith, Mortgage Advice Bureau 

Matthew Tilbury, Just Mortgages 

 

Protection sponsored by HSBC Life  

Wendy Whyte, First Mortgage 

Corey Greenway, Mortgage Advice Bureau 

Apurve Kaushik, Allen & Harris 

 

Rising Star – Distributor sponsored by Coventry for Intermediaries 

Debra Bowskill, Mortgage Advice Bureau 

Gethin Davies, Just Mortgages 

George Sanford, Vibe Finance 

 

Business Leader 

Broker (fewer than 10 advisers) sponsored by HSBC UK 

Adrian Anderson, Anderson Harris 

Joe Childes, Right Choice Mortgages 

Kim McGinley, Vibe Specialist Finance 

 

Broker (11 to 50 advisers) sponsored by NatWest Intermediary Solutions  

Andrew Montlake, Coreco 

Anthony Rose, LDNfinance 

Sarah Tucker, The Mortgage Mum 

 

Broker (over 51 advisers) sponsored by Bank of Ireland for Intermediaries 

Steve Auckland, Age Partnership 

Peter Brodnicki, Mortgage Advice Bureau 

John Phillips, Just Mortgages 

 

Conveyancer 

Nick Chadbourne, LMS 

Karen Rodrigues, eConveyancer 

Alan Young, Landmark Optimus 

 

Development and Innovation Advocate 

Maria Harris, Digital Cat Consultancy 

Matt Lowndes, Mortgage Advice Bureau 

Richard Merrett, Simplybiz Mortgages 

 

Protection or General Insurance Provider sponsored by Uinsure 

Steve Bryan, The Exeter 

Louise Colley, Zurich Intermediary Group 

Martin Schultheiss, Uinsure 

 

Intermediary Lender (less than £5bn gross lending p.a) sponsored by Sesame 

Steve Cox, Fleet Mortgages 

John Goodall, Landbay 

Charles Morley, Metro Bank 

 

Intermediary Lender (£5bn or more gross lending p.a) sponsored by PMS  

Esther Dijkstra, Lloyds Banking Group 

Jeremy Duncombe, Accord Mortgages 

Chris Pearson, HSBC UK 

 

Mortgage Club sponsored by BM Solutions  

Robert Hunt, Paradigm Mortgage Services 

Lisa Martin, TMA Club 

Martin Reynolds, Simplybiz Mortgages 

 

Network sponsored by Halifax Intermediaries  

Rob Clifford, Stonebridge 

Ross Liston, Sesame 

Toni Smith, Primis Mortgage Network 

 

Specialist Distribution sponsored by Precise Mortgages 

Mobeen Akram, Mortgage Advice Bureau 

William Lloyd-Hayward, Brightstar Financial 

Liz Syms, Connect for Intermediaries

 

Surveyor sponsored by Mortgage Brain  

Matthew Cumber, Countrywide Surveying Services 

Peter Hughes, Gateway Surveyors 

Simon Jackson, SDL Surveying 

 

Lender 

Business Development sponsored by Alexander Hall Associates

Nick Jury, Halifax Intermediaries 

Jason Neighbour, Santander for intermediaries 

Laura Underdown, HSBC UK 

 

Head of Sales or National Accounts 

Nicola Goldie, Virgin Money 

Rachael Hunnisett, Skipton Building Society for Intermediaries 

Kay Westgarth, Standard Life Home Finance 

 

Operations/Credit Risk 

Jon Cole, HSBC UK 

Chris Delaney, Santander for intermediaries 

Katia Petlitskaya, Clydesdale Bank 

 

Telephony Relationship Manager sponsored by The Openwork Partnership 

Alison Hurley, Metro Bank 

Ross Macleod, Virgin Money 

Achile Mayala, HSBC UK 

First Financial Solutions Wales rebrands as brokerage goes national

First Financial Solutions Wales rebrands as brokerage goes national

 

The move comes as the Neath-based firm has seen its business expand beyond South Wales. The company was set up in 2008 with a focus on the region, but has since created a client base across the UK. 

The firm currently has four mortgage advisers and a compliance manager. It provides independent mortgage and insurance advice for domestic and commercial clients. 

Chris Davies (pictured), principal at First Mortgage Solutions, said: “When I established the firm in 2008, I couldn’t have imagined that I would have been able to recruit the calibre of mortgage advisers that I have. It is thanks to them, and the exemplary reputation that we have built, that we have enjoyed such success and growth to date. 

“Whilst we will always be a firm based in Wales, we are proud to operate nationally and we want our identity to reflect this, and the core product that we offer. Because of this, we decided that it was time the name of the firm was brought up to date.”

Brokers ‘frantic’ after BoE rate rise as borrowers worry over mortgage costs

Brokers ‘frantic’ after BoE rate rise as borrowers worry over mortgage costs

 

Monetary policy makers pushed the base rate up to one per cent last week in a bid to temper inflation.

Lenders have been quick to react, with mortgage rates increasing and expected to climb higher still.

The average two-year fixed rate has now breached three per cent for the first time in seven years, according to Moneyfacts.

 

Desperate borrowers and busy brokers

Borrowers have become increasingly desperate to grab deals, making life busy for brokers.

Lewis Shaw, founder at Shaw Financial Services, said: “It’s hectic at the moment, to the point I have already blocked out this entire week with no time to turn around.

“However, while rates continue to rise and more people are looking to remortgage, it’s looking as though it won’t stop anytime soon.”

Rhys Schofield, managing director at Peak Mortgages and Protection, added: “Business is absolutely frantic. We’re booked up two weeks in advance at the moment and that’s with working every weekend and evening possible.”

 

Not just those coming to the end of their fixed-rate term

Imran Hussain, director at Harmony Financial Services, is another broker who has seen a huge jump in his workload.

He said: “I have personally seen a massive increase in enquiries from borrowers who are due to remortgage in the next six months looking to review their options.”

It’s not just clients coming to the end of fixed-rate periods, many borrowers are actively looking to exit their current fixes to grab a deal now, according to Dean Esnard, director at Magni Finance.

He said: “We have seen a huge spike in people looking to remortgage six months before their fixed rate ends. Normally, the majority of borrowers would wait until they are within the last three to four months of their deal and do a simple product transfer.

“However, with rates increasing so quickly, remortgaging before rates increase again can save them thousands of pounds every year.”

Esnard has recently had a client pay a £5,000 early redemption fee to exit a two-year fixed rate in order to lock in a new five-year fixed rate.

He said people are “worried how high rates will be when their current fixed rate expires”.

Matthew Fleming-Duffy, director at Cherry Mortgage and Finance, also said he feels like he is “chasing his tail” at the moment, as clients look for advice despite not being at the end of deals.

He said: “Over 90 per cent of our customers arranging a mortgage in the past two years have opted for fixed rates.

“However, following the recent rate rises, we have certainly seen an influx of enquiries from existing customers looking to review their options many months before the end of their existing deal, which quite honestly makes me feel like I’m chasing my tail a little currently.”

‘Shovel through the dung to find a gem’ – brokers share their biggest career lessons

‘Shovel through the dung to find a gem’ – brokers share their biggest career lessons

 

In a career with more ups and downs than a rollercoaster, there are tough yet valuable lessons for advisers along the way.

We asked brokers to look back and share their biggest realisations about the industry.

 

Careful with marketing

A huge part of being a broker is generating leads and standing out from the competition.

Jamie Thompson, broker at Jamie Thompson Mortgages, wishes he had specialised earlier.

He said: “I regret trying to be all things to all people in the early days. I thought that’s what I needed to do in order to not miss an opportunity to write business.

“Now I specialise in some super niche scenarios such as PhD students receiving a stipend, or those on fixed term contracts, and opportunities fall at my feet.”

Matthew Fleming-Duffy, director at Cherry Mortgage & Finance, agreed that it is vital to think “carefully about the cost of advertising as intermediaries have to compete with huge advertising budgets of large financial institutions.”

Focus on giving your client the best experience and you will never be sort of referrals, says Imran Hussain, director at Harmony Financial Services.

He added: “All the prancing about on social media for likes will never match a referral from a client who knows, likes and trusts you.

“Also, being known in your local market is unmatched, especially in a service business like mortgage advice. Social media platforms come and go, so don’t let any social media guru tell you otherwise.”

 

Find your process and stick to it

Finding out how to work seamlessly can be a challenge that takes a lot of learning at first.

Matt Poole, director at Poole Family Financial, said: “There’s so much to learn, I learn every day.”

He recommends finding out as much outside the intermediary job as you can to understand people’s positions and how credit can affect your clients.

Turning to peers for advice and following the “right people” in the industry will support a broker’s career, he added.

Creating a steadfast process at the outset is key, Lewis Shaw, founder of Shaw Financial Services, said.

He added: “Define your process, stick to it and never ever deviate. Secondly, always get a credit report regardless of what a customer says.”

Imran Hussain agreed that processes are important. He said: “If you don’t get the client on board with your process, you are either explaining it poorly or the client may not be the right fit for your business.”

 

Business relationships impact your reputation

Brokers are interconnected to many other businesses. Picking the wrong people to work with can hurt your reputation.

Robert Payne, director at Langley House Mortgages, said: “We had a panel of solicitors available to us when we set up the company and we recommended them to our clients based on their panel ranking system, which resulted in some of the worst customer experiences our clients had ever been involved in.

“We’ve since built relationships with more trusted solicitors but it reflected badly on us at the time.”

Equally, finding a network that is the right fit is not easy, according to Ian Hewett, founder at the Bearded Mortgage Broker.

He added: “If you are a new broker starting out on your journey, get ready to shovel your way through heaps of dung to find a gem of a network.

“If you want an honest assessment of this as a career choice, pick up the phone, send a DM, visit an office and by hook or by crook speak to an independent broker.

“You may soil yourself when you hear some of the horror stories, but you will also love the good parts of this career.”

 

Believe in yourself

Finally, have confidence to create a thriving business and have faith in your ability.

Matt Poole said his biggest mistake was not believing in himself sooner.

He added: “I’ve failed a lot of times but you’ve got to believe in your own ability.”

Scott Taylor-Barr, financial adviser at Carl Summers Financial Services, added: “The one thing I did wrong was being too keen.

“When you’re starting out and have very few prospects it’s very easy to follow up too quickly and too often, coming across as a bit desperate.

“They might be number one on your to-do list, but you could be tenth on theirs. Relax, have faith that you are doing a good job, and give prospects time and space. It worked wonders for me once that penny dropped.”

Castle Trust Bank recruits BDM for London and South East

Castle Trust Bank recruits BDM for London and South East

 

Duhaney most recently worked as a senior BDM at One Savings Bank, where he was also an underwriter for the Interbay Commercial brand.

He will work with brokers in London and the South East, specialising in helping buy to let clients access the finance they need to explore new opportunities and maximise their returns.

Duhaney (pictured) said: “In London and the South East, brokers need a lender that can provide a combination of flexibility and certainty. I’m looking forward to working closely with brokers on structuring loans, delivering terms and raising awareness the bank’s proposition.”

Rob Oliver, sales director at Castle Trust Bank, said: “We are delighted that Ashley has joined us. With a background in underwriting, Ashley knows exactly what it takes to make a deal work and his experience will prove invaluable in helping brokers in the region to source and structure the finance that their clients need in specialist buy to let.”

Shortage of property and desperate buyers behind ‘down valuations’ ‒ analysis

Shortage of property and desperate buyers behind ‘down valuations’ ‒ analysis

So-called down valuations ‒ where the valuer determines a property is worth less than the price agreed between buyer and vendor ‒ have become a growing concern among property professionals in recent weeks. 

A report from HBB Solutions last week suggested that half of property transactions during the pandemic may have been down valued, with certain areas ‒ including Wales, London and Yorkshire ‒ most likely to be hit.

This was followed by Chris Sykes, a director at Private Finance, telling The Times that he was seeing around one in 30 cases hit by a down valuation at the moment. 

But brokers speaking to Mortgage Solutions were split over how common this is currently, though there was agreement that the lack of housing stock compared to demand from would-be buyers was playing a part.

Desperate buyers

Jane King, mortgage and equity release adviser at Ash Ridge Private Finance, said she had seen an upturn in down valuations, and suggested this was down to the lack of options faced by would-be buyers.

She explained: “My view is that with the shortage of supply, potential buyers are offering more than the property is worth in order to secure it and when the valuer visits on behalf of a lender they decide that the purchase price is not a reflection of the actual value as the price is more of a ‘one off’ from a desperate buyer.”  

Scott Taylor-Barr, financial adviser at Carl Summers Financial Services, said that while there had not been a large number of down valuations for his clients of late, when they did take place the differences had been quite large. He said that surveyors had disagreed over the value of properties by “between 10 and 20 per cent” which was significant enough that in most cases it caused the deal to collapse.

“There is little feedback given to us as brokers, so we’re often left in the dark as to why the surveyor’s valuation is so far adrift from the client’s or estate agent’s figure, which then makes trying to explain what’s happened to a confused and upset client even harder,” he continued.

What types of property put off surveyors?

Certain types of property may be at greater risk of a down valuation. Rob Gill, managing director at Altura Mortgage Finance, said his clients had been on the receiving end of a number of down valuations when looking to buy flats in the capital.

He continued: “This reflects surveyor concerns that the long-term trend in demand for such properties in the post-pandemic world is a downward one. However, rental demand and rents for such properties are soaring, a good indicator that overall demand for such properties will remain strong.”

Surveyors can’t keep up with reality

“We’re seeing them left, right and centre,” said Rhys Schofield, managing director at Peak Mortgages and Protection, who suggested that surveyors were struggling “to keep up with the reality that house prices are going through the roof”.

Schofield noted that the sold comparables used by surveyors are likely based on sale prices agreed at least six months ago, but argued house prices have grown substantially since then.

He added: “It’s pretty frustrating when you have a queue of other would-be buyers willing to pay the same price for the property. The most insane examples though seem to be on rental valuations when we have surveyors giving a lower rental valuation than that currently being received by a landlord. How is that even possible in a booming rental market?”

There’s no such thing as a down valution

King noted that surveyors argue there is no such thing as a down valuation, just an actual valuation that happens to be lower than the amount offered for the property.

She added: “We also have to bear in mind that a lot of surveyors got into trouble during the 2007 credit crunch when some properties were significantly down valued after only a couple of years since the transaction. Surveyors do, after all, accept legal liability for values so I am not surprised that they are now considered more conservative.”

Lewis Shaw, founder and mortgage expert at Shaw Financial Services, echoed the point around down valuations not really existing, and agreed that the lack of stock combined with “idiotic at best, or parasitic at worst, estate agents and greedy vendors” had created a “perfect storm where people believe their homes is worth more than it is”.

Shaw added that continual house price growth is far from a good thing: “All that the ridiculous price increases do is make it hard for your children and grandchildren to keep a roof over their heads and allow banks to make greater profits to pay out in dividends to shareholders making the rich richer.”

Cost of living crisis will temper price rises

Martin Stewart, director of London Money, argued that the job of a valuer is extremely difficult, with house prices being a “moveable target made up of complex data and vested interests, while being underpinned by human emotion and saturated with government support”.

He noted that his firm had seen only sporadic valuation issues, adding: “The simple fact of the matter is the housing market has been dysfunctional for over 20 years and there doesn’t seem to be anything on the horizon that will put that right. That said, the elephant in the room is likely to be the cost of living crisis which may well temper house prices quicker and more effectively than whoever this week’s housing minister is.”

AMI says FCA fees consultation reveals ‘serious disconnect’ with mortgage market

AMI says FCA fees consultation reveals ‘serious disconnect’ with mortgage market

AMI’s chief executive Robert Sinclair (pictured) said that whilst there was a “good three-year plan and business plan” there was still a “serious disconnect” with its approach to fees.

He called out the proposal to increase the AR levy on networks by 14.8 per cent, which he said had been hidden in the rules. The detail can be found on page 18 of its 101-page consultation paper.

The current levy is £250 for each AR firm a club or network has, and the consultation suggest increasing this to £287.

He said surcharging networks a further 14.8 per cent on ARs “for issues that exist in other markets, continues to cause us significant concern”.

Sinclair also criticised the significant rises to the minimum fee that will be implemented over the next two years and the flawed assumption that firms can pay for the FCA’s National Insurance increase via hiked up fees.

He also condemned the decision to charge mortgage brokers for new work for cryptocurrency, which is a “scope change” project by the regulator to bring select cryptoasset businesses under the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds Regulation of 2017.

“The assumption that mortgage broker customers can find the money to pay for the process to review and authorise cryptocurrency firms displays a total lack of appreciation of the thin margins that most brokers operate under,” he said.

Sinclair added that the five-week consultation period was inadequate, calling it the “shortest in memory”.

The consultation period for fees at the FCA opened on 7 April and is due to close 12 May.

The FCA fees consultation operates on an annual cycle with the regulator consulting on periodic fees rates, as well as changes to application fees or other fees, for the next financial year in March and April.

It also consults on the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) general levy, the Single Financial Guidance Body levies and illegal money-lending levies for the next financial year.

In its business plan, the FCA said it was making changes to “improve principals’ oversight of their ARs, increase the information they give us and raise standards across financial services”.

Sinclair continued: “I am infuriated by the arrogance of this new fees consultation. The impossibility for anyone to hold the FCA to account is becoming damaging to the industry.”

He added that the senior team at the FCA said they hoped to have more time to engage with the industry in 2022 than they had during the Covid crisis.

“It is to be hoped that there is enough of an industry left by then, as the increasing regulatory cost burden makes this a less attractive place to be,” he said.

“It is death by a thousand cuts, with increasing FOS fees, FSCS [Financial Services Compensation Scheme] costs, Consumer Duty and the raw cost of the FCA activity and fees. Good firms cannot just keep having an escalating bill.”