Archive: Dec 2017

Looking back at 2017 – a mortgage market summary

Product Development Manager Nathan Reilly takes a look back at an eventful 2017 in the mortgage market, and highlights how advisers have helped their clients this year

2017 was another big year for the mortgage industry, with an array of complicated changes that have put even more value on intermediaries. Advisers have responded by keeping on top of all the ramifications for their clients and spending time with industry representatives and experts to fully understand the details.

Below is a round-up of all the big 2017 announcements. We have supported advisers throughout the year by giving them access to relevant events, such as mortgage workshops and webinars, designed to help absorb the changes. This means that no matter what the industry throws our way, advisers have the support needed to continue delivering the same first-class advice to clients…

First-time buyers

Help to Buy

The year began with the end of the Help to Buy: Mortgage Guarantee scheme, as lenders began supporting more borrowers with small deposits. But the Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme was also extended to 2021. This is great news for those struggling to find the required deposit to buy their first home.

In autumn, Theresa May promised to boost the Help to Buy scheme with an additional £10bn funding, which she confirmed would help another 135,000 people onto the ladder. The Help to Buy ISA is also continuing to be used by plenty of first-time buyers to boost their savings and save money on their house purchase.

Stamp Duty

One of the big mortgage announcements in November’s Budget was the scrapping of stamp duty for first-time buyers. The Chancellor’s flagship budget policy will mean those buying a home worth less than £300,000 will no longer need to pay stamp duty land tax, which according to the government will encompass 85% of those looking to buy their first home. The cut will also apply to the first £300,000 on properties valued up to £500,000, in areas such as London, purchased by first-time buyers.

There was speculation leading up to the Budget that the tax would be scrapped completely, in an effort to support first-time buyers and to make home-owning more affordable for young people in the UK. Solving the housing crisis in the UK was always going to be one of the main focuses of the budget, and this announcement by the Chancellor should go towards increasing first-time buyer transactions in the UK.

Homeowners

Base Rate

Obviously a base rate rise affects everyone. But homeowners especially will have been looking at their current mortgage rate a bit more closely. With rates at record lows for so long, it is only natural that advisers would get calls from clients, asking how this would affect their mortgage.

The move raised some big questions for borrowers, least of all the possibility of another rise in the near future. Those borrowers financing mortgage repayments on standard variable rates (SVR) may have already seen their repayments increase, with those on tracker rates even more likely to have been affected.

Remortgages and Product Transfers

Even after the base rate was increased, the opportunities for homeowners to save money by remortgaging has continued throughout the year, with lenders competing to offer competitive fixed rates and low cost borrowing prevailing. We have been helping where we can, by supporting client touchpoints and encouraging advisers to reach out to clients, especially those with products nearing cessation.

Investors and Landlords

Tax Relief

April saw the first stage in the reduction in tax relief for landlords, which is scheduled to be phased in over a four year period. This move is part of the Government’s plan to redress the balance between investors and buyers in the housing market, by reducing the tax relief landlords received on their mortgage payments.

By April 2020, the tax relief that landlords of residential properties receive for finance costs will start to be restricted to 20%. In the first quarter of 2017, this created increased interest from investors considering moving their portfolio over to a limited company. Limited companies set up for the sole purpose of buying and letting property, will not be affected by the changes.

PRA changes

One of the big impacts in 2017 came in the form of new rules on lending to portfolio landlords. From October 1st, extra stress testing is used for those with four or more mortgaged properties. Some lenders however have approached the new rules differently which may have affected those outside of this definition.

The additional testing has meant more in-depth affordability checks, taking into account properties, as well as personal income and tax liabilities. We held a series of workshops to help advisers understand the changes and how each lender would be altering their criteria as a result. This meant they could go back to their clients and help them prepare their documents.

Join our award-winning Mortgage Network as an appointed representative, or become a member of our Mortgage Club, to start benefiting from our fantastic range of comprehensive services and support. Call the Broker Support Team on 0845 130 7446 (opt 1) to find out more.


Wrapping up another fantastic year of support for appointed representatives

Head of Sales and Marketing Sharon Mawby rounds up another fantastic year of award-winning support and services for appointed representatives

What a year 2017 was! We have made plenty of great changes and expanded our services across all our departments. We have put a big focus on making things simple and useful, and adviser satisfaction and success has been our reward. We listen to the feedback of appointed representatives and respond to their needs, which means we always deliver the most useful and relevant services.

So what have we been doing for appointed representatives in 2017?

The Sales Team

The phones on the desk are always ringing with advisers looking for guidance and time-saving support. The Broker Support Team keep up to date on criteria, to help answer complicated questions regarding industry changes.

With many big industry moves and lenders added to panel in 2017, our experts on the desk have been receiving lender training all year round, and sit with lender representatives to work through criteria and USPs.

The Protection Helpdesk has been a big part of the protection success for advisers in 2017. Many appointed representatives find the time-saving initiatives provided by the desk simply invaluable. They call the underwriters to find the most accurate indication of terms, to save appointed representatives crucial time to spend with their clients.

Relationship Development Consultant Nicole Smith has been on hand to work with appointed representatives on building business and dealing with issues. Nicole troubleshoots problems, points advisers towards suitable services and supports recruitment and business development.

The Marketing Team

We launched a new suite of promotional materials at the start of 2017, and so many appointed representatives have embraced the new range. We have worked on bringing modern and relevant marketing options to advisers, such as posters and sales aids to use with clients. It’s so satisfying to see our new designs used everywhere from office windows to social media pages.

Plenty of appointed representatives have also been taking advantage of the fantastic free client newsletter service, which sends out three relevant stories directly to clients once a month. This now goes out to over 20,000 clients and appointed representatives often receive leads as a result.

Our free adviser magazine Insight has also been developed in 2017, to bring even more stories, interviews and adviser tips. After listening to appointed representative feedback, we also now offer the magazine as a digital download.

Commissions Team

The Commissions Team have been developing automation and processes to help deliver faster payments, whilst maintaining the highest level of accuracy. We know how important cash flow is for appointed representatives, and our express payment service is an essential part of that. We therefore ensure the entire team is well trained in processing all the different types of payments.

Working closely with the IT Team, the Commissions Team have transformed the way that statements are processed, to ensure an even more water-tight system. The Commissions Team never stop looking for innovative ways to ensure appointed representatives get their fees quickly, without deviating from our very high service standards.

Product Development Team

One of the busiest departments in 2017, the Product Development Team have been adding even more lenders and providers to panel. This includes mainstream and specialist lenders, to give appointed representatives plenty of options with which to help clients. The team has also developed a number of exclusives designed for the needs of appointed representatives and their clients.

With so many new additions to panel and industry changes, we knew how important this year’s events were going to be. That’s why the team have delivered plenty of webinars and workshops, as well as a brand new Specialist Lending Event, to ensure engaging and insightful support for appointed representatives.

After listening to appointed representative feedback and analysing the market, the protection panel proposition has also been refreshed. This includes the development and expansion of two new panels, and the implementation of protection portal software SolutionBuilder.

The IT Team

Working behind the scenes to bring the best technological solutions to appointed representatives, the IT Team have been developing several in-house systems and integrated a range of new software. The Team also work to help appointed representatives in their day to day business, by developing the adviser website Broker Zone, helping it run smoothly and work for appointed representatives at all times.

SolutionBuilder has also been developed to support client protection conversations. This new addition means that appointed representatives now have the ability to research, quote and compare protection needs. This has now been integrated with our point of sale system, and supports single and multi-benefited products.

The Business Assurance Team and Authorisations

The Business Assurance Team have continued to focus on case quality in 2017, by educating appointed representatives on systems and processes. Many appointed representatives were invited in to visit the office in 2017 and spend time with the team, to give them the opportunity to see a case being assessed from our perspective.

To continue to support case quality in 2017, the Business Assurance Team have launched a useful catalogue of videos, which show appointed representatives exactly what a case checker reviews on each section of an assessment.

The Business Assurance Team and Managers have been working closely to ensure a consistent message is delivered to appointed representatives. The Business Assurance Team are there to both protect and support advisers, and the team regularly consult with advisers on presenting cases and documentation requirements.

Authorisations has been moved back in-house, allowing more control on timescales and developing relationships with new appointed representatives coming on board. This has enabled them to work on the smooth transition from application to authorised adviser, and be the first port of call for appointed representatives when they join the Network.

The Compliance Team

The Compliance Team have been providing more than just telephone-based support for appointed representatives. They also write policies, processes and create material to promote positive consumer outcomes to further protect appointed representatives. The team also produce and control risk logs, implement FCA rule changes and deal with consumer complaints.

The team’s regular bulletins are a really important way to get messages through to advisers, as well as the Compliance Resources page on Broker Zone, which is always being updated to support appointed representatives on a daily basis. With many industry changes and new rules in 2017, the team have ensured they are getting the messages out to appointed representatives and keeping them updated.

Join our award-winning Mortgage Network as an appointed representative, or become a member of our Mortgage Club, to start benefiting from our fantastic range of comprehensive services and support. Call the Broker Support Team on 0845 130 7446 (opt 1) to find out more.