United Trust Bank appoints James Masters as CTO
He has previously worked in technology-led roles in the financial services sector, including stints at JP Morgan, F&C Asset Management and PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
His most recent role was global head of corporate technology at Schroders Investment Management, a position he held for five years.
Masters will be tasked with developing the bank’s digital strategy and IT infrastructure.
His appointment follows United Trust Bank’s recent technological developments including changes to its decision in principle and underwriting systems to enable three-hour applications to offer.
Masters (pictured) said: “I am hugely excited to be joining United Trust Bank with a mandate to develop and deliver the bank’s digital technology and change strategy. UTB has already shown leadership in the specialist banking sector with its investment in intuitive fintech; improving customer and broker experiences, streamlining processes and encouraging easier and more secure communication between the bank and its stakeholders.
“I’m keen to further leverage innovative technology which will evolve with the bank and support its impressive growth.”
Rob Sherr, chief operating officer at United Trust Bank, added: “The creation of this new senior role at UTB underlines the importance the bank is placing on technology in helping us to maintain our commitment to innovate and improve customer and broker experiences when dealing with UTB.
“James’ deep technical knowledge and sector experience will be vital in helping us to stay abreast of the constantly evolving fintech landscape and delivering our exciting and dynamic change programme.”
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.”
Platform makes raft of rate changes; UTB raises LTV to 85 per cent on first and second charge
The bank has reduced rates on two and five-year fixes at 60 to 75 per cent loan to value (LTV) by up to 0.10 per cent.
At 85 and 95 per cent LTV, rates on two and five-year fixes have been cut by up to 0.12 per cent. Rates now range from 2.82 per cent for a fee-free two-year fixed mortgage at 85 per cent LTV and 4.13 per cent for a fee-free five-year fixed mortgage at 95 per cent LTV.
The five-year fixed product at 85 per cent LTV with no fee has increased by 0.07 per cent to 3.15 per cent.
Across its buy-to-let offering, Platform has reduced rates on two-year fixes at 60 to 75 per cent LTV by as much as 0.10 per cent.
For switching borrowers, residential rates have been cut by up to 0.12 per cent while buy-to-let products have seen reductions up to 0.10 per cent.
It has re-introduced three-year fixes to its mainstream residential range.
The changes come into effect from today.
United Trust Bank increases LTV limit
United Trust Bank (UTB) has returned to high LTV lending by increasing to 85 per cent LTV for first and second charge mortgages.
The bank will lend up to £500,000 to employed and self-employed borrowers.
Rates will begin from 3.80 per cent on two, three and five-year fixes. The loan to income multiple is set at five times income for first charge mortgages and six for second charge loans.
Eligible properties must have a minimum value of £100,000.
UTB has also updated the technology for document uploads, which will be available to all introducers through its mortgage portal.
The new system allows documents to be automatically allocated to the relevant cases before the full mortgage application has been submitted. This is expected to help prioritise documents when they are ready for underwriting.
Emails will be removed from the process and the changes are expected to reduce the time taken to issue mortgage offers.
Buster Tolfree (pictured), commercial director – mortgages, United Trust Bank, said: “UTB supported brokers throughout 2020 and despite the challenges we kept lending and introduced numerous product, criteria and process changes.
“This is yet another major digital enhancement designed to further streamline the application process and deliver smoother, quicker completions for brokers and customers.
UTB’s Keith Sangwin set to retire
Sangwin’s (pictured) career spans more than 40 years.
As sales director at Barclays Asset Finance, he created and managed its asset line offering. He also established Barclays’ broker division before holding sales director roles at both BNP and Aldermore.
He joined UTB in 2015 and since then he has developed the asset finance sales team, helped to shape the bank’s asset finance offering and built successful relationships with some of UTB’s most productive brokers.
“I entered the industry at the age of 21 attracted by a company car and the chance to see if I could sell for a living,” said Sangwin.
“Thankfully, things worked out and here we are over 40 years later. I feel privileged to have had such an interesting and varied career in asset finance, primarily focused on customers and sales. I have worked with lots of amazing people, many of whom will remain friends after I leave the industry.
“I have seen the asset finance industry adapt to the changing economic and legislative landscape many times and always come out stronger; a clear testament to the people who work within it.”
Nathan Mollett, head of asset finance, said: “Keith has had an incredible career in asset finance and is held in very high regard throughout the industry.
“I’m sad to see Keith go of course, but after 40 years’ hard work, he’s thoroughly earned the right to call it quits and spend more time with his family, enjoy his new bike and improve his golf. I hope he enjoys a long and happy retirement.”
UTB has begun its search for a new head of sales to fill the post.
Sangwin will step down at the end of August.
UTB provides last minute £6.7m loan for 25-home development
The project is being completed by Genesis Homes in a joint venture with Housing Growth Partnership. It consists of a mix of two to five-bedroom houses and bungalows.
Funding from UTB was required at short notice when the original lender withdrew its funding at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, just before Genesis Homes was set to complete the site acquisition.
The developer approached the lender’s property development director Huw Jenkins for the loan.
Nicky Gordon, managing director of Genesis Homes, said: “Having our original funding offer pulled as we were about to complete our purchase of the site was far from ideal. Fortunately, I was aware that UTB was continuing to lend, despite the added complications and uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Huw quickly appraised our proposal, liaised with Housing Growth Partnership and very soon afterwards confirmed that UTB would provide the funding we needed to acquire and develop the land.”
Jenkins added: “Although Genesis Homes is a relatively young company, it’s evident from their success over the last few years that they’re a company with a great reputation and a bright future.
“2020 was a challenging year for most housebuilders and I’m delighted UTB was able to step in at short notice and enable Nicky and the Genesis Homes team to crack on with this excellent new development.”
UTB’s Meredith retires after two decades as Bovingdon steps up
Meredith (pictured) will step down as a long-standing director of United Trust Bank (UTB) and head of its property development division. He will continue to consult for the bank.
Bovingdon has been promoted from head of originations within the property division, having joined UTB in 2014. He has 15 years’ experience developing and managing a portfolio of property clients.
UTB said Meredith played a central role in growing the bank having joined in 1999 when the its loan book comprised £9.9m of development finance.
He has worked closely with successive chief executives Graham Davin and Harley Kagan to build a bank with a property development loan book of £1bn today and joined the board of directors in 2010.
Meredith led the creation of the bank’s £250m Housing Accelerator Fund, which launched last month. The fund is five-year partnership between UTB and Homes England to support small and medium size house-builders and developers.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed the last 20 years helping to build UTB into an established and highly respected specialist lender,” said Meredith.
“It has given me great satisfaction to see new housebuilders and developers, who I formed relationships with as business development manager 20 years ago, flourish into successful and sustainable businesses — with UTB supporting their growth, through every crisis from credit crunch to Covid-19.”
“I’ve worked with many of the best people in the industry, not least the fantastic, committed and talented property development team at UTB.
“I will no doubt miss the camaraderie of working in such a vibrant environment, but I’m leaving the bank in great shape and looking forward to watching UTB write the next exciting chapter of its remarkable story and improving my handicap when my golf club reopens,” he added.
Bovingdon said he was looking forward to leading the team.
“Noel has been a big part of UTB for over two decades and having posted a record breaking year in 2020 he’s leaving the property development division in particularly good shape.
“He’s been an excellent mentor and I’m pleased we’ll continue to benefit from his vast knowledge as he becomes a consultant to the bank,” he added.
Harley Kagan, chief executive officer of United Trust Bank, said: “Noel has been a very valued member of the team and has made an enormous contribution over many years to building UTB into a respected player in the development finance market. His experience and professionalism will be missed but we look forward to continuing to work together in his new role.
“We congratulate Adam on his appointment and wish Noel all the best for his retirement. I have no doubt he will be on the club’s leaderboard in no time,” Kagan said.
UTB grows lending 31 per cent to £1.3bn and expands development finance team
Around £118m of this was government-supported lending under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme (CBILS) scheme.
Overall, the specialist lender’s loan book including its residential, second charge, bridging, asset finance and CBILS activities grew to £1.6bn at the end of the year.
However, it also saw an uptick in loans in distress.
More than £16m worth of loans were in forbearance at the end of 2020, up from almost £13m in 2019, while £4.9m were impaired, up from £1.5m.
However, loans under repossession edged down to £32.8m from £34.8m.
The lender said it did not put any staff on furlough using the government schemes and also hired a further 42 people to join its teams during the year.
In handling the Covid-19 outbreak impact it acknowledged tightening lending criteria at the end of Q1 2020.
“In Q4 2020, there were partial relaxations of the previous tightening reflecting our increased knowledge of the impact of Covid-19 on the UK economy and greater insight into affected borrower and asset types,” it said.
“With customers in mind, the bank agreed a large number of payment holiday requests in Q2 and further extensions in Q3 and Q4 as appropriate.”
It added that given the higher risk environment it had maintained significantly higher levels of liquidity during the initial phase of the pandemic and again during the second half of the year as the departure of the UK from the EU approached.
This reduced net interest income, “but was considered appropriate given the economic climate”.
Development finance appointments
UTB has also made five appointments within its development finance team including four new joiners.
They will be working directly with house builders and developers providing bespoke development funding solutions.
Simon Cartwright has more than 30 years’ financial services experience having previously worked for Assetz Capital, Handelsbanken, HSBC and RBS.
He has been appointed senior manager – property development and will be primarily supporting clients across the Midlands.
Kerry Cooney has joined UTB from Oblix Capital and during her 16 years in banking has also held real estate sector roles with Arbuthnot Latham and Bank of Ireland.
As manager – property development, she will be supporting customers in London, the South East and East of England.
Ashley Collier also joins as manager – property development from Assetz Capital and will be working with customers in the North West, North Wales and the Midlands.
Davinder Birthee will be supporting customers across the Midlands, Yorkshire, Humber and the North East as manager – property development and joins from Barclays Real Estate.
Finally, Anna Wojtowicz has also been promoted to manager – property development and will be working with customers in London, the South and East of England.
Grateful to brokers
Commenting on the results, UTB CEO Harley Kagan noted that 2020 was a year like no other, adding that “despite the extraordinary challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, United Trust Bank showed its resilience and delivered a strong set of results”.
“The bank has continued to invest in business transformation and digitisation projects and introduced many new digital means of interacting with customers and brokers during the year, including the launch of full-service online banking for deposit customers.
“By successfully transitioning to remote working and adopting and implementing innovative technology the bank maintained its operations and remained open for business throughout the lockdowns with all business lines continuing to grow.
“The board and management team are immensely grateful to our supportive brokers and customers and to our dedicated staff for their contribution to the performance UTB delivered through a particularly unusual and challenging year.”
UTB launches bespoke FTBs residential range
It’s the bank’s latest step in developing its first and second charge specialist mortgages.
The range offers loan-to-values up to 80 per cent and the maximum loan size is £500,000.
It includes fixed rates starting at 3.8 per cent over two, three and five years.
The highest accepted income multiple is 4.5x and £25,000 is the minimum yearly income needed.
Property values can be as low as £100,000 and the products can be used with gifted deposits, gifted equity and for purchase at undervalue.
“This is another step towards a full suite of specialist mortgages for those requiring bespoke underwriting, rather than the sausage factory approach of generic, credit score-based high street lenders,” said Buster Tolfree, commercial director at United Trust Bank.
“Brokers’ feedback on our developing product range and technology has been overwhelmingly positive. We look forward to another busy year and more exciting changes to come,” he added.
UTB ups maximum bridging LTV
The increase applies to the lender’s whole range of regulated and non-regulated deals, including those for heavy refurbishment and conversions.
Sales director – property intermediaries Mike Walters (pictured) said: “We remained open for business throughout the pandemic, introducing many product, criteria and digital enhancements to help property finance intermediaries write more business.
“We believe the time is right to increase our maximum LTV appetite to support the market even further and you can expect to see more positive changes from UTB over the next few months as we respond to the changing environment and increasing confidence.”
The lender allows loans between £125,000 and £15m on its bridging ranges.
UTB unveils £250m development finance fund with Homes England
The five-year pact will support small and medium-sized builders with loans between £1m and £10m at up to 70 per cent loan to gross development Value (LTGDV).
Homes England said the Housing Accelerator Fund will improve access to finance offered to smaller builders and drive the continued diversification of the housing market over the coming years.
Applications are being accepted from today and prospective borrowers should contact UTB.
UTB executive director Noel Meredith said SME housebuilders have a vital role to play in delivering the UK’s housing needs.
“This is an exciting new partnership with Homes England which will make a real difference to both long established and newly formed development companies requiring competitive funding and the long-term support of a knowledgeable and experienced specialist lender,” he said.
“This alliance will help to reinvigorate and increase diversity in the SME housebuilding sector, and boost housing supply in areas under the greatest affordability pressures.”
Homes England chief investment officer Gordon More said it would help smaller builders get on as well as improving the lending landscape for SMEs by driving competition in the market, improving choice and encouraging innovation.
Housing minister Christopher Pincher added: “It is a top priority for this Government to build the homes this country needs and it is vital for our economic recovery that we support as many as possible within the house-building industry to deliver these homes.”