Primis and Paradigm launch Covid-19 support tools
Primis Mortgage Network has launched a support hub within its customer relationship management (CRM) system, Toolbox, to help its appointed representatives source updated mortgage information.
The hub will include real time lender and market updates, including product rate and criteria changes and information on government guidelines regarding the pandemic.
The existing CRM has been updated to include Toolbox making it immediately available to the Primis brokers. The hub will be reviewed in the coming weeks and months to ensure it is kept at a high standard, the network said.
Vikki Jefferies (pictured), proposition director at Primis, said: “During the Covid-19 crisis, it is imperative that brokers have the necessary tools and support in place to help them manage their business, staff and clients from their homes.
“With the market changing daily, the launch of our new support hub within Toolbox will provide all of our AR firms with access to live information on lenders and wider industry news that can assist them in their conversations with clients.”
Paradigm launches protection panel updates
Paradigm Protect – part of Paradigm Mortgage Services – has launched a Covid-19 document with details on how its panel of protection providers is dealing with the pandemic.
In the ‘Protection Matrix’ document, Paradigm Protect cover how individual providers are dealing with applications from clients with Covid-19, the product, policy and process changes made as a result of the virus.
It also gives information on how providers are dealing with claims across individual products, and the contact details and support that is available during this period.
Those providers currently in the matrix include Aegon, AIG, Aviva, Canada Life, The Exeter, Guardian, Legal & General, LV=, Royal London, Scottish Widows, Vitality and Zurich.
The document will be updated as changes happen.
Also featured on the page are Paradigm’s five ‘top tips’ for intermediaries to consider when discussing protection with clients under the current circumstances.
Paradigm Mortgage Services has also recently launched three lender matrices which feature recent criteria and product details from its panel. These can be found on its Covid-19 support page.
Mike Allison, head of protection at Paradigm, said: “We’re acutely aware this is a fast-moving situation and providers are having to establish new processes for dealing with new applications, existing customers and claims.
“As providers are making changes daily, we’ll be updating the matrix regularly to ensure it remains a useful resource for our members. It’s essential that advisers keep as up to date as possible and we believe this will help enormously in the current challenging environment.”
Primis adds Bluestone and Hodge to lender panel
The partnership will give advisers in the Primis network access to Bluestone’s full residential and buy-to-let suite of products.
This includes Bluestone’s fee-free remortgage offering geared towards borrowers consolidating debts, which was launched earlier this year.
Hodge’s mortgage products now available to Primis’s brokers include its retirement interest only (RIO) range, equity release and portfolio buy-to-let products.
The network will also have access to the new Hodge fixed-for-life RIO mortgage, which allows customers to fix their mortgage rate for the lifetime of the mortgage.
Steve Seal, managing director of Bluestone Mortgages, said: “Partnering with Primis will extend our distribution and ensure that its advisers are equipped with competitive solutions to serve a growing number of customers who don’t fit the vanilla mould of high street banks.”
Emma Graham, sales director at Hodge, added that the lender looked forward to working with Primis’s network to help clients “find the right products for their needs”.
Vikki Jefferies, proposition director at Primis, said: “Bluestone’s wealth of knowledge and experience in the specialist lending market will provide our members with greater access to lending solutions tailored for customers with niche requirements, and we look forward to helping more of our advisers bolster their offerings in this area.”
On Hodge, she added: “The lifetime mortgage market is constantly evolving to meet the demands of modern-day retirees, making it paramount that intermediaries are ready and able to serve this growing pool of borrowers.”
Good advice: ‘Helping clients doesn’t always mean making a sale’ – Star Letter 05/08/2019
Advice was the focus this week as readers had their say on the consequences of good or bad guidance.
The first comment came from Paul Fielding, who praised an adviser who helped a pensioner come into £132,800 by recommending an equity release.
He said: “Now that’s the kind of superb work by the adviser that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) should applaud long and loudly in the public domain, as well as realising that all decent and hard-working advisers carry out this unseen pastoral care work on behalf of clients, every day.
“That said, well done Graeme for your diligence and for helping to enhance the standing of both yourself and your fellow like-minded advisers everywhere.”
Andy Wilson also had good things to say: “A lovely story for a change. Credit to the adviser for having the knowledge to realise something was amiss.
“On a similar vein, I once saw a lady about an equity release plan who was living on a state pension and a widows war pension. She had been denied a means tested pension credit payment because her income was too high.
“However, I explained war pensions are not taken into consideration for means testing. I drove her to the local weekly benefits drop-in centre, argued the point with the adviser, she made a claim, and two weeks later had confirmation she was entitled to £204 a month in additional income.
“This helped to mitigate the amount of equity release she needed to pull out of her property to meet her living costs.
“A good adviser will understand and have a good grasp of the benefits system and can see when something is not quite right. Helping clients doesn’t always mean making a sale.”
Going beyond advice remit
This week also showed us what can happen when advisers get things wrong, as Paul Smulovitch reacted to the analysis of Primis being fined £30k when a broker gave a client incorrect advice regarding stamp duty.
He said: “I think the issue here is some advisers are so worried about losing a client by not being ‘helpful’ that they go beyond their remit.
“If you think how a solicitor works, they put all the responsibility on the client. They specify that they should have a full structural survey and seek advice on everything as they don’t want any come back.
“Lenders do the same, passing all responsibility to the valuer and the solicitor. Brokers need to understand the importance of the right advice and professionalism and know that if they are doing the right thing then the client will not seek advice on mortgages elsewhere.”
Is the solicitor to blame?
In response to the original reporting of Primis being fined £30k, John S said: “The adviser has been stupid there is no doubting that but surely the solicitors will have discussed Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) with the clients before allowing the clients to enter a binding contract?
“If the solicitor did have the discussion, then the clients are not telling the truth to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and if the solicitor didn’t have the conversation with the clients then surely the solicitor is to blame?
“This is an example of FOS taking the easy option and as advisers we all pay for decisions like this. I am amazed the adviser community does not have more to say about this as one day it could be you or I on the end of a crazy decision like this.”
Huge opportunity for brokers
Lastly, Stuart Philips gave his opinion on L&G Mortgage Club’s suggestion that fewer customers should be placed with high street lenders.
He said: “There’s such a huge opportunity here for brokers in the future. Lending figures are not growing overall, and lenders are fighting for market share from each other, especially the big eight.
“At the same time there is a large segment of under-served clients such as the self employed, those with light adverse, older borrowers and such that smaller lenders have an appetite to help.
“The prime cases, remortgages and product transfers are probably going to be increasingly served through direct channels, by robo-advisers or on an execution-only basis which is a threat to the traditional broker.
“Brokers can remain relevant though, by increasing the number of positive outcomes for these unde-rserved clients. It needs to become much easier for us to place these cases and while tools like Knowledge Bank, Criteria Hub, BrokerSense, Mortgage Broker Tools etc are making this easier, but there’s still a huge gap here that could be filled.
“How do we better connect lenders who want to serve a niche with the customers who want a mortgage but feel they wouldn’t qualify with high street lenders?”
Primis adds Together to panel
As a result, network members will have access to the lender’s online application system, My Broker Venue, which includes affordability calculators, full product guides and ongoing application support.
The move follows other recent additions to Primis’ panel, such as Fleet and Source Insurance.
Vikki Jefferies (pictured), proposition director at Primis, said the firm’s top priority was “supporting and investing in our brokers”, and argued that the partnership would give members access to deals which will help borrowers with “niche requirements”.
Richard Tugwell, group intermediary relationship director at Together, added: “We’ve got a wealth of knowledge and experience in the specialist lending market, and our common-sense approach to lending will enable more of Primis’ members to provide great customer outcomes to borrowers who may not fit the criteria of mainstream lenders.”
Primis agrees Knowledge Bank tie-in
Advisers can look at an unlimited number of criteria in any search to place cases, including residential, buy-to-let, second charge, equity release, self-build, overseas, bridging and commercial loans.
Search results can be saved to a client’s file electronically, demonstrating clear, personalised evidence of their research.
Primis said it will also be adding a new back office operating system to its proposition later this year.
Primis proposition director Vikki Jefferies (pictured) said technology was clearly proving to have a hugely positive impact on the mortgage market.
“Tools like these continue to become increasingly valuable in this way, providing that extra ounce of support for advisers looking to simplify and streamline the application process,” she said.
“The hard work that our brokers put in to secure the best possible outcomes for their customers is exactly what drives their businesses forward – and with the addition of Knowledge Bank, we are confident that they will be able to amplify this to help a growing number of consumers with their lending needs.”
Knowledge Bank CEO Nicola Firth said she was looking forward to working with the network and its 2,500 brokers, adding that it would give them more time to provide face-to-face advice.
Primis adds home insurance to its network offering
The partnership deal included whole-of-market cover that is fully integrated with Primis’s Toolbox system.
Source said it would provide cover for up to 95 per cent of risks including those deemed non-standard, a learning lab for advisers to earn continuing professional development (CPD) hours and a broker loyalty scheme.
“We are enhancing our general insurance (GI) offering for advisers by adding Source’s expertise, service and education to our panel,” said Nicky Hemmings, Primis’s general insurance proposition manager.
“We plan to develop more partnerships that will integrate with Toolbox and we will announce these during the coming year,” she said.
“This integration shows the potential of technology within the mortgage market. We want to grow GI and to make GI products more accessible,” said Brian Coulton, Source head of intermediary.
Primis extends Fleet buy-to-let range to broker network
The added range was unveiled with a portfolio lending cap of £5m, is available to portfolio landlords with an unlimited number of background properties and requires no stress testing of background portfolio, business plans or cashflow statements.
The range was designed for buy-to-let residential landlords and limited companies and for houses in multiple occupancy (HMOs).
The maximum loan-to-value is 80 per cent.
“Fleet has enjoyed success as part of our Personal Touch Financial Services (PTFS) panel and we hope to extend this throughout the rest of our network,” said Vikki Jefferies, proposition director at Primis (pictured).
LSL Property Services acquired PTFS for £4.8m in January 2018. Primis and PTFS merged under the Primis brand in February this year.
“Extending our outreach to the rest of the Primis network is paramount to ensuring that more brokers can access the BTL solutions they need to meet growing customer demand. We look forward to working together with Primis to strengthen this market further,” said Steve Cox, distribution director at Fleet Mortgages.
Mortgage lending grows to £29bn at LSL Group
LSL said this growth gives it a total market share of 8 per cent of all mortgage completions.
LSL’s financial services brands include network Primis, formerly trading as First Complete, Pink Home Loans (Advance Mortgage Funding) and Personal Touch Financial Services, mortgage club The Mortgage Alliance (TMA) and Embrace Financial services, an appointed representative of First Complete. Other brands include Linear Financial Solutions, Mortgages First and RSC New Homes, First2Protect insurance services and Mortgage Gym.
The firm declared that when measured by the number of appointed representatives, its overall combined broker networks are the second largest in the UK. In 2018 LSL purchased Personal Touch and RSC New Homes, as well as a 35 per cent stake in online broker Mortgage Gym.
LSL’s income from its financial services division grew from £74.4m to £87.4m, a growth of 17 per cent, making it the firm’s strongest performer by a distance. By comparison, residential sales income dropped from £76.6m to £69.9m, while lettings income grew only marginally from £73.9m to £76.6m.
On surveying, revenues grew by 9 per cent to £69.8m, with operating profits up 8 per cent to £20.4m.
Overall, the firm’s total income increased by 3 per cent to £254.8m, while its underlying operating profit dropped by 24 per cent to reach £20.6m.
Last month LSL announced plans to close 124 estate agency branches in a company restructure.
Ian Crabb, group chief executive officer of LSL, said that market conditions in 2019 have been “notably softer” than the same period in 2018, and that as a result the firm’s financial performance so far “has been marginally behind the Board’s expectations”.
Crabb added that the board expects to see a “material reduction” in the number of house purchase transactions compared to 2018, though he emphasised that mortgage costs remain low on historic terms, while availability is good.
“The medium to longer term fundamentals of the UK housing market remain solid,” he added.
Paradigm Protect and Primis sign partnerships with protection specialists
From today, a selected number of Paradigm Protect member firms will have access to MetLife’s individual protection offering, MultiProtect.
MultiProtect will be visible to member firms using SolutionBuilder from iPipeline.
It provides financial support for a range of specified accidental injuries and UK hospital stays. It also offers extended cover options for child cover, active lifestyle cover and healthcare cover.
This allows advisers to tailor client’s cover to their circumstances and what is important for them.
Core Cover starts from £8 to £40 per month with extended cover options from just £1 per month.
The premiums stay the same, even if the client makes a claim or as they get older.
Clients can claim for multiple injuries and their policy will continue to protect them in the future.
Clients also receive free and unlimited access to MetLife’s professional wellbeing support centre, provided by Health Assured.
Mike Allison, head of protection at Paradigm, said: “Initially this will be available to a selected number of firms who use Solution Builder, which is free to Paradigm Protect members, but it’s also our intention to swiftly make this offering more widely available as we progress the relationship.
“Protection should remain high on the agenda of all advisers, especially given the ongoing political and economic uncertainty.
“Moreover, as we have seen from the increased demand on our protection help desk, from a health point of view, clients can never be 100 per cent sure of what might be coming over the horizon.
“MultiProtect offers access to those who may find it difficult to get cover elsewhere, benefitting advisers who have a duty of care to their clients to ensure they are adequately protected.”
Primis adds Holloway Friendly to protection panel
Primis Mortgage Network has signed a deal with income protection provider Holloway Friendly.
Services include access to underwriters, reviewable exclusions, potential cover for hazardous hobbies and consideration for customers with type two diabetes.
Other proposition additions in recent months include British Friendly, Scottish Widows Protect and Guardian Financial Services.
Holloway Friendly has already closed a relationship with Personal Touch Financial Services which, from 1 February, was rebranded and became part of the PRIMIS Mortgage Network.
Steve Berry, protection manager at Primis, said: “Income protection is becoming an increasingly important part of a families’ sound financial resilience and quite rightly so.
“Additions such as Holloway Friendly are integral to supporting the comprehensive approach that our advisers take when it comes to protecting their clients.
“During difficult times it is vital that families have the right financial support in place and by coupling Holloway’s member-centric approach with our own, we can help more of our network ensure their families are covered.”
Stuart Tragheim, CEO at Holloway Friendly, said the firm was delighted to be working with Primis.
Primis and PTFS integrate under one brand
LSL acquired PTFS in January 2018 and the firms have undergone significant alignment throughout the last year, including integrating sales, operational and proposition functions under a single executive team.
Toni Smith, chief operating officer at Primis (pictured), said that the unification was extremely exciting.
She said: “Now a year since the acquisition of PTFS, the past twelve months have been filled with record milestones and successes.
“We are hugely excited about our plans for the network and we are confident Primis will flourish further under a single brand.
“A fantastic start to the year, the announcement was extremely well received at our annual event and we look forward to what we can achieve in 2019 as one united powerhouse.”