Magnet expands underwriting and operations team
Field boasts notable property experience, having initially qualified as a property solicitor at a large international law firm before holding a host of roles within the real estate businesses. These include heading up the in-house legal team at Regent Property Management. She had been working as an operations consultant at Magnet since April.
Magnet Capital has reported seeing sharp growth since the reopening of the property market following the initial lockdown last year, with both its new business and enquiry levels up year-on-year. The lender said all of its loans which were started before 2020 have been redeemed, with a high level of repeat business from borrowers, some of whom are now onto their fourth loan with Magnet.
Sam Howard (pictured), managing director at Magnet, said the recruitment of Field underlined the lender’s belief in hiring only “the brightest and best” in order to provide a first class service.
Howard continued: “We understand how much value our borrower and broker partners place on Magnet Capital’s deep industry knowhow, expertise in the property sector and the team’s ability to act as a finance partner. Deborah’s experience will bring an additional skill set and complement the existing operations team.”
UTB appoints two to bolster asset finance team
Gavin Mancey has joined the bank as underwriter and Daniel Idowu has been promoted to underwriter having started in UTB’s asset finance operations team in 2018.
Mancey has nearly 20 years’ experience in asset finance credit and risk analysis roles. He has joined UTB from Hitachi Capital where for the last six years he was senior credit analyst considering proposals for a wide variety of assets and with a substantial personal mandate. Prior to joining Hitachi Capital, he was a senior underwriter at Banque PSA Finance.
Daniel Idowu joined UTB’s operations team in 2018 having completed his Masters degree in business and management. Both Mancey and Idowu will report to the head of the credit team, senior underwriter – asset finance, Peter Price.
UTB announced it was targeting larger deals of up to £2m and grow its higher value car business earlier this year.
In line with this, the lender has subsequently developed its asset finance sales, operations and credit teams to ensure it can meet increasing demand and maintain its personal broker service.
Earlier this year Oliver Hobday joined UTB’s established credit team from Hampshire Trust.
Peter Price, senior underwriter, asset finance, United Trust Bank, said: “Gavin is exactly the sort of underwriter we like at UTB. He enjoys talking directly to brokers, working with them on proposals and helping them to get quick decisions for their customers. What’s more he is already well known to many of the brokers we regularly deal with and has worked alongside fellow underwriter Giles Hussey when they were both at Hitachi. He’s an excellent addition to the team and will play a key role in helping us achieve our exciting but challenging growth ambitions.”
He added: “Daniel has learned a lot about the asset finance business in the operations team and I’m delighted to have this opportunity to promote him to a new position in credit where he’ll be able to build on his knowledge and further develop his skills. He won’t find a better team of credit professionals to work with and learn from.”
Ultimate Finance appoints regional director; Hope Capital expands underwriting team
He joins the firm from Bibby Financial Services, where he worked for around eight years mostly as a business development manager (BDM). Prior to that he worked at Outsauce as a BDM for just under a year.
Nick Haggitt, Ultimate Finance’s sales director for the South and Midlands, said: “Tom is a great addition to the sales team and his expertise together with his experience with the local network offers us a real foothold into the region and the opportunity to provide even more working capital solutions to help businesses meet their ambitions.”
According to its most recent half-year results it reported its highest ever loan book of more than £270m, and registered £80m of new lending. It reported significant growth in bridging finance, asset finance and invoice finance.
Hope Capital expands team with dual underwriting hires
Hope Capital has hired Helen Hargreaves and Andrew Bate to its underwriting team as a trainee underwriter and loan administrator.
Hargreaves was previously a customer mortgagee expert at Barclays for nearly four years and Bate previously worked at Serco as a test and trace administrator. Before that, Bate was at Investec working as an investment adviser.
Hope Capital’s chief executive Jonathan Sealey said: “Underwriting is incredibly specialised in bridging lending, particularly when every case is looked at on its own merits and the numbers involved in terms of loan amounts range from the tens of thousands to the millions.
“I have no doubt Helen and Andy will be great additions to the underwriting team and I really look forward to watching them grow and develop their careers.”
The bridging lender has been growing its team over the past few months, hiring Roz Cawood as its sales director in June as well as business development managers David Burford and Debbie Range in July.
It more than doubled its loan book in the second quarter, with significant growth reported in its refurbishment, commercial and land deals.
The lender has also made a number of changes to its product offering, bring out its lowest ever bridging loan rate at 0.39 per cent and launched a fast-track bridging product.
Black & White Bridging appoints head of underwriting
McLaren joins from loan review firm Rockstead, where she specialised in advising on short-term property finance portfolios for corporate clients. She also has over 15 years of underwriting experience with Bank of Ireland and Bath & West Finance.
McLaren will oversee the underwriting team and work with Nicholas Goss, the lender’s head of investment and capital markets, to develop products in line with funding demand.
Damien Druce, commercial director at Black & White Bridging, said: “With Lyn’s arrival, our senior management team is now complete for the next phase of Black & White’s development.
“Lyn brings with her an immense knowledge of the bridging and development market and we and our introducers will benefit hugely from her experience and expertise.”
McLaren (pictured) added: “I see this as a fantastic opportunity to contribute to the growth of Black & White Bridging.
“My skills are particularly well suited to the position based on my experience built up over many years in the lending industry. I am excited by this new position and look forward to helping Black & White become one of the pre-eminent lenders in this market.”
United Trust Bank launches online DIPs and auto-underwriting process
The auto-underwrite system analyses an applicant’s circumstances to provide a tailored response to their application.
It informs brokers of any additional information needed to reach a full mortgage application such as accounts for self-employed borrowers or further employment documents depending on the borrower’s profession.
The online DIP aims to give brokers a real-time decision with a pass, refer or decline outcome given following the application process which UTB said takes three to five minutes to complete.
If the product requested does not fit criteria, alternatives will be suggested.
The DIP is integrated into UTB’s credit search and auto valuation model to provide a 30-day decision.
These new enhancements follow UTB’s recently launched document upload functionality and are expected to improve turnaround times and increase broker conversions.
Buster Tolfree (pictured), director – mortgages, United Trust Bank, said: “There’s a lot of activity in the mortgage market but brokers aren’t necessarily getting the speedy service from lenders they deserve, especially with their more difficult-to-place cases.
“These latest process enhancements will enable brokers to quickly obtain a DIP, be referred to a specialist underwriter for further help or get a swift decline, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and our auto-underwrite system should help accepted cases fly through to a quick full mortgage offer.”
Aspen Bridging hires two to underwriting team
Wilson will take on the role of underwriter, whilst Iqbal (pictured) will join as an underwriter and risk team member.
Wilson joins from Precise Mortgages where she was a mortgage loan processor for nearly two years, and before that she was an administrative assistant.
Iqbal was formally at Latham & Watkins where he was a M&A virtual intern and before that held roles at Bright Network, Cooks and Citizens Advice.
The company has been hiring extensively this year, recruiting Ian Miller-Hawes to the newly created role of sales head, appointing Laura Randall as an underwriter and Jonathan Caddy as a senior IT developer.
Aspen director Jack Coombs noted that April was a record month for the lender, with £23mn in lending recorded, and it was on track for a record-breaking May.
He said: “To meet the increasing workload throughout this year and beyond we need to keep adding staff, and as is the case with Aqib and Katherine we will look to bring in more recent graduates who we educate through our own comprehensive internal programmes to ensure their service is the best in the industry.”
Digilytics AI launches to UK market to provide ‘first time right’ mortgage applications
The firm received an undisclosed investment from Innovate UK to support its launch and has plans to partner with more lenders later this year.
It uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to enter data onto mortgage applications and minimise errors during the submission and underwriting stage.
It reads documents submitted by a broker or borrower and runs the information against existing mortgage applications for verification. If any information is missing, this is auto filled by Digilytics AI to reduce manual entries.
Where the system is unable to populate data, the application will immediately be flagged so the lender can go back to the broker or borrower for corrections.
The firm said this would reduce the manual intervention from brokers and make cases ready for underwriting with minimal errors.
The technology works better at checking information for existing mortgage holders as their data will typically be held on lender systems. However, Digilytics said with every new application entered the platform continued to learn the data to improve accuracy, in a process which takes two to three days.
Digilytics AI works as a bolt on feature, meaning brokers and lenders who implement the technology to their platforms will not need to make changes to their system.
Arindom Basu (pictured), CEO of Digilytics AI, said brokers and lenders were often “mired in administrative and manual work” due to application entries and errors that prevented them from focusing on other tasks.
He added: “Digilytics AI takes care of the manual procedures involved in submitting validated information at scale from customer documentation.
“From upload to submission, the platform’s AI capabilities assists the borrowers with real-time understanding of errors to improve packaging quality.”
Basu said: “Artificial intelligence is increasingly becoming the yardstick to evaluate new and innovative ways to improve the mortgage origination experience.
“On average, applications are submitted four times before they are accepted and are often incomplete and inconsistent. With first time right applications, brokers and lenders can accelerate time to fund, become truly paperless, leverage online data, accelerate the recovery from the Covid-19 crisis and most importantly the UK’s green initiatives by 2030.”
Virgin Money and Atom Bank execs join Perenna ahead of 30-year mortgage launch
Both have extensive experience in their respective roles, with Moore working for Atom Bank for six years in its underwriting department. Her most recent role was head of underwriting, a position she held for three years.
Thompson joins from Virgin Money, where he worked for nine years most recently as head of mortgage originations. He also previously worked for Northern Rock, Bank of Scotland and Barclays in commercial and corporate banking roles.
Colin Bell (pictured), COO and co-founder of Perenna, said: “We approached Liz and Simon based on our vision to create a customer-centric and technology-driven approach to lending, as it matched their skills and experience.
“Once they heard about our strategy towards lending and our bond backed long-term fixed rate mortgage concept they quickly decided they wanted to be part of building Perenna and bringing it to life at the creative stages.”
Moore and Thompson began working for Perenna on 1 March and will start to build their teams in preparation for the lender’s planned launch of 30-year fixed rate mortgages this summer. It recently completed a £7m funding round to give it the capital to begin developing and providing these products.
The lender is also undergoing the licence process of becoming a pure covered bond bank, with aims to be the first of its kind in the UK.
Moore said: “I’m thrilled to be part of a team so committed to delivering true transformation to the UK mortgage market; ripping up the rule book, fully leveraging data and technology to create lending products that truly work for customers not just now, or for the next couple of years but through their life of homeownership, and all the events that come with it.”
Thompson added: “After speaking to Colin and hearing about Perenna’s ambitions to bring such a compelling customer proposition to the mortgage market, it was an easy decision for me to make the move.
“The ambition of the team to combine a technology-led customer experience, together with an innovative funding model is unique in the UK and I firmly believe Perenna will be well placed to disrupt the market, especially for those customer groups who are currently underserved and will benefit from this refreshing approach.”
Covid-underwriting has levelled playing field between specialist and mainstream lenders – Adams
Mainstream lenders have, on the whole, taken a lighter touch approach to underwriting, using automated data-driven processes to access large volumes of applications, whereas specialist lenders have been more hands-on with their underwriting, using technology to support and enhance a manual process.
Consequently, the expectation has been that a mortgage application to a mainstream lender will be processed more quickly than one submitted to a specialist lender.
Not anymore, however.
The problem with automated data-driven processes is that they require a track record of consistent information in order to make a decision.
They are less effective at assessing an application from a customer who has recently experienced a significant amount of change.
So, in the current environment where everyone’s lives and most people’s finances have been impacted by Covid-19, the large mainstream lenders are having to take a more forensic approach to ensure they continue to make robust decisions, accounting for any recent changes to a customer’s circumstances, particularly when it comes to lending to the self-employed.
This means changing processes and resource models that have been built to support light-touch underwriting, in order to accommodate large numbers of applications that now need a hands-on approach.
Turnaround times equivalent
Specialist lenders have built their entire operational model on the individual assessment of every application and recruited the expertise specifically to do so.
The result is that the perceived difference in turnaround times between mainstream lenders and specialist lenders no longer exists.
All lenders now need to take the time to understand the individual situation of a customer applying for a mortgage.
So all lenders are on a level playing field and as a consequence many mainstream lenders are currently working to significant backlogs, whereas some specialist lenders which are used to this way of working are up-to-date across their application processing.
For brokers who have not worked with specialist lenders in the past, because they have worried about the impact of individual underwriting on timescales, there has never been a better time to work with a specialist.
When it comes to choosing which lender you will recommend, take a look online at the published service levels to see which type of lender might provide your client with the better experience.
‘We want to return to 90 per cent LTV in a way that protects brokers’ – Kensington
Speaking to Mortgage Solutions, new business director Craig McKinlay (pictured) said he was “not a fan” of going in and out of the market for limited periods as the lender preferred to take a measured approach and avoid spikes in service levels.
McKinlay added: “We’re thinking about how we can introduce it [90 per cent LTV] in a sensitive way that protects brokers and gives them some certainty.
“We’ve always written a lot of business at 90 per cent LTV, it’s always been our bestselling product but there’s so much demand and so few lenders that we can’t go back to 90 everywhere. We’ll just get overwhelmed, service would get bad then we’d have to pull out or change things,” McKinlay said.
Instead, the lender could potentially release low deposit mortgages on a smaller scale, rather than opening it up to the whole of market.
McKinlay said: “What we might do is launch it very selectively or on a tranche basis or some kind of limited distribution then open it up over time.”
Government 95 per cent mortgage scheme
McKinlay suggested the government’s plans to introduce 95 per cent mortgages could go further to encourage lenders back into the high LTV market.
He said: “It looks quite similar to the first version of Help to Buy we had in 2013. That worked well because at that time lenders weren’t doing high LTV lending similar to today.
“Then what happened is because the scheme was quite expensive for lenders, they decided to do it themselves which was great because that scheme stepped back and lenders stepped in. I think that was the government’s aim.”
However, McKinlay said he had concerns about the success of the scheme as it was not apparent there was any collaboration from the mortgage market.
He also suggested the best time for the initiative to be introduced would be before incentives like the stamp duty holiday close, so lenders have confidence knowing there is “another scheme on the horizon”.
As the lender navigates the current busy market, McKinlay said its staff were back to carrying out normal duties after being reassigned to handle payment holidays.
Additionally, an expansion of its team has brought application to offer time down to 20 days, nearer to what it was before the pandemic.
No employees were furloughed during the property market’s shutdown and the lender has recruited 30 new underwriting and sales employees. As well as this, in-person meetings with brokers have resumed.
“Our sales team are out doing physical visits where brokers are happy to do it and offices are Covid-compliant. We’re looking to get back to business as quickly as possible,” he added.
Adapting to new realities
Looking forward, the lender is hoping to expand into new markets but wants to be innovative in how it does so especially since it adopted a new platform which has given it the capacity to do so.
“Our new IT platform gives us capability to enter new markets. One of the reasons we moved to it is it’s much faster to launch new things,” McKinlay said.
He added: “There’s a whole list of things we don’t do currently, like shared ownership, expat buy-to-let and holiday let. So, we’re reviewing all those segments to look at which ones we want to enter.
“Our whole thing is we want to innovate like we did with our Eco and Heroes mortgages, we don’t want to have the same proposition as everybody else we want to come up with something different.”
He also said the lender was having conversations about what new markets might emerge following the pandemic as existing schemes end and people’s living habits change.
McKinlay said: “There are conversations about private shared equity to replace Help to Buy, mortgage indemnity guarantees, different things like that and we’re keen to be at the forefront.
“Now is the time to innovate. The market has been stuck in two- and five-year fixes since the last crisis. Covid has brought a lot of changes to people’s lives and circumstances so it’s our duty to look at how we respond to that and how our proposition fits the new reality.”