Philip Howell replaces Mark Duckworth as Openwork chief executive

Philip Howell replaces Mark Duckworth as Openwork chief executive


The appointment is subject to statuary approvals. 

Duckworth (pictured) initially joined Openwork as commercial development director before being promoted to chief executive after five years.  

He led Openwork through its independence from Zurich Insurance Group in 2018 after Zurich sold its 25 per cent stake. 

Howell stepped down as chief executive of wealth manager Rathbone Brothers in May 2019 after a five-year tenure.

He previously served as chief executive of Williams de Broe Wealth Management and chief executive of Fortis Private Banking.  

Prior to these roles, he had a 24-year international banking career with the Barclays group. 


Time is right

Openwork Group chairman, Christopher Rodrigues, said: “On behalf of the board and shareholders, I would like to place on record our gratitude to Mark for all he has done to develop the Openwork franchise; during his tenure the group’s financial performance has been transformed.  

“With Openwork poised to take advantage of its achievements since its independence, we are very fortunate to have attracted someone of Philip’s experience to lead us into our next chapter and I welcome him to what we intend to be the start of a long-term relationship with the group.” 

Duckworth said he felt it was the right time to “hand the baton” to a successor to drive Openwork’s next phase of strategy in becoming an independent, adviser-owned business. 

Howell added: “The market demand for financial advice continues to grow unabated. I very much look forward to working with our partners and management team in realising the full potential of the business.” 


Openwork recruits record number of advisers

Openwork recruits record number of advisers


The firm said 2019 was a record year for new recruits, following a bumper 2018 when 508 new advisers joined.

There are now more than 3,900 financial advisers operating under Openwork across the UK.

The growth in advisers comes as Tracey Saunders joins the company as regional recruitment manager.

She was previously regional director at Quilter and will report to Stephen Wildgoose, recruitment and growth director.

John Cupis, Openwork mortgage director, said: “The record recruitment figures highlight the strength of Openwork’s proposition and quality of service, as well as our reputation as a progressive, profitable, and well managed network.

“It is a particularly exciting time for Openwork, and I would like to extend a very warm welcome to Tracey who along with Stephen will play a critical role in helping us achieve our recruitment ambitions as we continue to grow as a business.”

Saunders added: “I am delighted to have joined Openwork and look forward to continuing the success of the last few years.”


Countrywide and Openwork pilot Mortgage Brain’s Affordability Hub

Countrywide and Openwork pilot Mortgage Brain’s Affordability Hub


The first phase will enable advisers in the networks to enter information on clients’ property, income, debt and expenditure in order to generate a range of potential lenders. 

Providers linked to the platform include Accord, Bank of Ireland, Barclays, Hinkley & Rugby, Halifax, HSBC, M&S, Nationwide, NatWest, Post Office, Precise, Principality, Santander, Scottish Widows, TSB and Virgin.  

The results will be collated and presented in a table format to include the maximum lending amount based on either property, customer circumstances, or both.  

A screenshot of the lenders’ results will be held as a record of compliance and to assist the advice-giving process. 


Access to lending potential

Affordability Hub aims to provide advisers with a single platform showing the amount lenders are prepared to lend, rather than an agreement from one lender to the amount requested. 

Mortgage Brain said by the end of the pilot it expected 30 lenders to be added on the hub with further phases to see more partners pilot test the platform. 


Enhancing the mortgage process

Mark Lofthouse (pictured), chief executive at Mortgage Brain, said: “We’re delighted that our partners, Countrywide and Openwork, are supporting the Affordability Hub pilot in its first phase. 

“This pilot marks an important stage in Mortgage Brain’s drive to digitally enhance the mortgage process and transform sourcing.” 

Peter Curran, managing director, financial services, at Countrywide, said: “The addition of Affordability Hub into our portfolio will transform the mortgage process, placing more information in the hands of advisers faster than ever.” 

Paul Shearman, proposition director at Openwork, said: “We’re delighted to support the pilot of Affordability Hub because it offers our advisers a streamlined mortgage sourcing process, providing them clearer and more detailed information.” 

Affordability Hub will be offered with Mortgage Brain sourcing and Criteria Hub licenses at no additional charge.  

Mortgage Brain’s online and offline sourcing systems, MortgageBrain Anywhere and MortgageBrain Classic, will be updated next year to include Criteria Hub and Affordability Hub.

Openwork appoints Mark Knowlton as COO

Openwork appoints Mark Knowlton as COO


Knowlton (pictured) joins from GBST, a financial services tech firm, and will be responsible for business operations, technology and business change functions.

He has more than 20 years of experience in digital technology and leadership roles, including six years at Macquarie Bank in Australia and eight years as chief information officer for AXA UK.

Mark Duckworth, chief executive officer at Openwork, said Knowlton’s “vast experience” would be “fundamental” to the firm’s long-term success.

Knowlton added: “I am delighted to be joining Openwork at such an exciting time for the business and look forward to working with colleagues across the Openwork network to support its growth and development.

“I am passionate about giving advisers and their clients a market leading financial advice platform and service.”


Openwork mortgage lending increases to £16.4bn

Openwork mortgage lending increases to £16.4bn

It has also expanded its number of advisers as they increased by 262 to 3,865 during the year. 

The company achieved its seventh year of profit growth as pre-tax profits rose 18.3 per cent, hitting a record £22.6m enabling the business to pay its first ever dividend of £2m to shareholders. 

Openwork said that its assets increased 11 per cent in the year to £6.9bn and had continued to grow since, as of July 2019 that figure had reached £8bn. 

Mark Duckworth (pictured), chief executive, said: “2018 was a significant year in the development of Openwork as we became an independent business in April. It is therefore very pleasing to be able to report strong results whilst also investing in the future.”  

The company has increased its investment in adviser recruitment with the Openwork Academy inducting a record 54 trainees to the scheme in 2019 so far, almost equalling the total intake for last year.  

Since its foundation in 2014, the academy has trained and qualified more than 150 advisers. 

Duckworth added: “Our strengthened financial position has meant we have been able to reward our long-standing and supportive shareholders with the first ever dividend.  

“I would like to thank the growing team at Openwork, our advisers, colleagues and senior management, for the hard work and dedication which has made 2018 a success and look forward to the continued development of our business.” 

Openwork expands lifetime mortgage lender panel

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 and Just Mortgages target major growth initiatives

Openwork and Just Mortgages target major growth initiatives


Openwork appointed Michael Cauchois as regional recruitment manager for the south to accelerate its growth in the mortgage and protection market.

Cauchois joins from Intrinsic and brings with him 38 years’ experience in the business.

Openwork now counts 3,900 brokers in its network.

“Our proposition has proved very successful for firms that want to grow or diversify their offering. Michael brings extensive experience in recruitment and distribution and his appointment will provide support in continuing to grow our mortgage and protection network,” said Stephen Wildgoose, recruitment and growth director.

“I look forward to promoting Openwork’s proposition and to supporting business owners and advisors to run more successful, sustainable and profitable businesses,” Cauchois said.

Openwork is on track to achieve a record first half in recruitment, which includes adding 40 new mortgage and protection advisers to the network this month. June 2019 will have been Openwork’s best month for recruitment since 2007 and the second best since the network started. 

The expansion continues Openwork’s performance last year, which was its best year ever for recruitment.


Just Mortgages goals

Meanwhile Just Mortgages’ self-employed division is on track to reach 240 brokers by January 2020, 350 a year later and 500 by the start of 2022.

The firm has grown rapidly since it was established three years ago to 190 brokers with 40 in the application process. It employs eight area directors and has a ninth joining in September.

Just Mortgages’ self-employed division was established in June 2016 to offer a solution for brokers who want to go it alone. It grew in 18 months from three to 81 brokers.

“The broker is self-employed and in control of their own destiny, with a dedicated sales manager to support them. We don’t charge a monthly fee and therefore it’s in everyone’s best interests for our brokers to be successful,” said Just Mortgages director Carl Parker (pictured). 

“We have two partnerships in place with lead providers that generate hundreds of leads a day for our brokers,” Parker added.


Just Mortgages takes ‘best performing adviser’ spot at Openwork

Just Mortgages takes ‘best performing adviser’ spot at Openwork

As well as taking top spot for volumes, Openwork stated that Just Mortgages was also the best performer in terms of the quality of business being placed.

Just Mortgages said that when it joined the network three years ago the Openwork business case suggested it would be completing £1bn of lending at this point, yet last year it placed £2.4bn.

That’s up from the £1.61bn placed in 2017 and the £1.15bn in 2016.

The firm suggested that its growth was due in no small part to the “significant” number of brokers looking to join either its employed or self-employed divisions.

Just Mortgages currently has 170 employed brokers, all of whom attended a conference for employed intermediaries last week in Colchester.

The broker firm plans to hold a conference for self-employed brokers – and those looking to join – at the Belfry in the Midlands in June.

When it published its annual results back in February, Just Mortgages confirmed that it had seen a sharp jump in self-employed advisers, increasing from 81 in 2017 to 240 by the end of 2018. Across both divisions it now has 350 advisers, against 130 when it joined Openwork, while the firm said that demand to join has been such that on some months it has received more than 1,000 CVs from interested advisers.

John Phillips (pictured), group operations director for Just Mortgages and Spicerhaart, said the results were a “great validation” of everything Just Mortgages was doing and the high level that its brokers work to.

He continued: “In what is largely a static market we have increased our lending by 40 per cent and our profits by 62 per cent – but most importantly of all, this has been without compromising on the quality of the mortgage business that we place.

“We expect to increase our volumes still further when Openwork provides us with the authorisation to advise on equity release at the end of this quarter.”

Openwork Academy’s graduates help increase access to mortgage advice

Openwork Academy’s graduates help increase access to mortgage advice


The eight graduates have gained either the CII diploma in regulated financial planning or the CII certificate in mortgage advice.

The majority are career changers with experience across a broad range of sectors, including education, the armed forces, manufacturing and hospitality. The average age of candidates across the programme is 29, and around 39 per cent of candidates are women.

The financial advice network said that this year will see increased investment in the Academy, underlining its commitment to rapidly growing its number of advisers. It wants more people to have access to financial advice.

It expects another 55 advisers to graduate this year and is planning its biggest intake yet next month.

Claire Limon, director of learning and acquisition at Openwork (pictured), said: “We are delighted to celebrate the graduation of these eight hard-working candidates.

“They represent the next generation of advisers who will go on to help more people around the UK access expert financial advice and wealth management services; creating and protecting wealth for themselves and their families.

“We are passionate about attracting a diverse talent pool, and the Academy welcomes people from all walks of life to pursue a career in financial advice. The mix of people and the past career experience of the latest graduates is a glowing example of this.”

In 2018, Openwork added 508 mortgage advisers to its network, bringing the total number to 3,885.

Openwork recruited 508 mortgage advisers to group last year

Openwork recruited 508 mortgage advisers to group last year


The new staff joined both new and existing firms, bringing the total number of Openwork advisers to 3,885.

At the same time, 68 new mortgage firms joined the group.

John Cupis, mortgage director (pictured) said: “These historic results are testament to our strong proposition and support for firms wanting to grow or diversify their client offering.

“We established ‘Route to Wealth’ as a bespoke upskilling programme last year for mortgage firms wanting to broaden into pensions and investments.

“It is available to new firms and some have taken it up within a few months of joining.”

Stephen Wildgoose, Openwork’s recruitment and growth director for mortgages and protection added: “I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved in the past 12 months.

“It signifies a strong endorsement from advisers who choose to develop their careers with Openwork.

“We are increasingly recognised in the industry for being a profitable, growing, supportive and positive partner, providing outstanding services for professional advisers in the UK.”