Anecdotal evidence is that business levels did not subside as borrowers pushed for completion before the end of the year and new enquiries flooded in.
After a short break, the industry is looking ahead to the challenges of 2016 to identify the opportunities and risks which it needs to prepare for to remain competitive and profitable this year.
This week our panel of experts discuss their quarter one business objectives and how they plan to achieve them over the next three months.
Alan Cleary, managing director of Precise Mortgages, says the lender’s key focus has to be European regulation.
Chris Bramham, Brightstar’s director of specialist mortgages and buy to let, talks about how the firm plans to increase its market share and manage the increase in business that will bring.
Without sounding a bore the Mortgage Credit Directive (MCD) is the biggest project on the go at the moment. Regulatory items trump everything so with an MCD deadline of March, this is the biggest focus. We are introducing our MCD-compliant systems into residential and buy to let in January, second charge in February and bridging in March so there is a quite a bit of work to do.
Intermediaries shouldn’t worry too much because there is hardly any change in residential, buy to let and bridging except for a few extra questions on our mortgage system and a KFI-plus instead of a KFI [Key Facts Illustration]. There are bigger changes to come in second charges but I think all of them are positive because effectively seconds end up looking like firsts which should make it easier for brokers who haven’t sold a second charge before to get their heads around the process.
On a slightly more exciting note we have a whole series of new products coming. I can assure you we intend to increase our lending in quarter one as we see some excellent opportunities. As we are 100% intermediary, all of that extra lending will be via intermediaries.
Our priority is to maintain the momentum from 2015. We are receiving a huge increase in enquiries regarding specialist mortgages and buy to let. This showed no let-up right until the end of the year and continued from day one of January. Our objective is therefore to continue to increase the amount of market share that we have while also making things easier for brokers to conduct specialist business.
Key for the next three months is to manage the growth in buy-to-let business before the proposed tax changes come into effect and the rise in Stamp Duty. This is driving a lot of landlords to complete on purchases before the end of March.
We also recently became regulated and a major priority for our second charge division is preparing for the Mortgage Credit Directive and helping the brokers who contact us to be prepared and ensure that all brokers have a route for second charge business come 21 March.
Our final priority and our biggest initiative is to embed new technology into our business. We will shortly be launching a new system which will make the process of getting a loan or mortgage through Brightstar easier both for brokers and their clients. Once launched it will provide unparalleled levels of speed and efficiency for brokers and will significantly help our ongoing initiative to make it easier for brokers to find the right product for their client.
Tony Salentino is director of Complete FS
Our main investment in 2016 will be in our staff and ensuring that our infrastructure is robust enough to support our people and the introducers who put their trust in us.
Our priority is to continue to offer the same mix of service and products that have proved to be successful to this point.
Without meaning to sound too simplistic, our philosophy is ‘if it ain’t bust, don’t fix it’. As the only packager and distributor to have traded unbroken for 22 years, our methodology has not changed. Of course, we have adapted to meet the needs of a post-crash market in terms of the advantages brought by technology, but essentially we believe that our recipe contains the core ingredients for present and future success in 2016.
We have learnt that the features that brokers most desire from a packager like us are experience and care. Experience that comes from the knowledge built up over years of dealing with lenders and intermediaries and the vital skill of knowing where a deal will fit to the best advantage of the client and the lender.
What makes this service so important is that in these days of impersonal online ‘hit and hope’ interaction between broker and the ivory tower lender, Complete FS offers the all important human interface which demonstrates the necessary knowledge, experience and care for our brokers and their clients. Continued investment in our staff will help us to achieve this.