A league of our own

Robert Owen, Managing Director – Mortgages & Bridging

If you’ve been keeping an eye on ‘appointment’ announcements for the last few months you can’t fail to have noticed

Our mortgages and bridging team has recently seen an influx of new talent – in football parlance, the Gaffer is setting-up for a Champions League spot. With our position in the second charge sector now well established, the next chapter in UTB’s Mortgages & Bridging story is going to be an exciting one. We therefore need the right people, the right structure, the right technology and above all, the right attitude to take our business to the next level. Our commitment to delivering outstanding products and service to customers and brokers has taken UTB from zero to second charge hero in little more than four years so actually, I think it’s all coming together nicely.

Our most recent signing is Avison Warren who has joined us from Accord Mortgages. He has taken on the new role of Mortgage Operations Manager and is working closely with Buster Tolfree and others focusing on the delivery of fintech and digital solutions projects as well as process improvements as we prepare for the development and launch of various new products and diversification of our distribution. Talking of which… Martin Sim’s appointment as National Distribution Manager was a bit of a giveaway that the products coming in the next stage of our evolution are going to appeal to a very wide audience. Master Brokers and packagers remain hugely important to us and the second charge sector particularly. We’ve structured the Key Accounts team with Jigar Patel at the helm and he’ll make sure our valued partners remain very well looked after. Where we see opportunities next are the networks, clubs and DAs who very soon are going to want to know a lot more about UTB and what we can offer and it’s important that we’re organised to manage that demand.

Simon Burnell joined the team to help us ensure our current range of products stayed up to scratch in this fast-paced environment and to work with the senior team designing and delivering the products that are going to make the mortgage and bridging markets really sit-up and take notice this year.

Of course, every fan likes to talk about their new signings but let’s not forget that the Mortgages & Bridging team at UTB is now nearly 60 strong. Mike Walter’s BDM team is the biggest we’ve had covering more of Great Britain than ever before and it won’t be long before we’re serving over 1000 broker firms and introducers between us. On the bridging side Gavin Diamond and the team has continued refreshing and improving the offering and have introduced an enhanced application process to allow those customers who don’t have their own solicitor (or don’t wish to use their own solicitor) to also use the firm the Bank intends to use, thereby saving costs, improving efficiency and speeding-up the processing too. In Q2 we’ll start offering bridging loans in Scotland with BDM Paul Mansell providing support on UTB products every week to introducers across the border.

The team’s more experienced case managers have now become ‘Underwriters’ with individual lending mandates, a rarity in the bridging industry and something which can cut down the journey time from application to offer to completion still further. More good news for brokers and borrowers.

Despite the political uncertainty the key economic conditions of low inflation and unemployment and the absence of house price bubbles has created a uniquely stable lending market. UTB sees this as a good opportunity and we wouldn’t be investing so much in people and technology if we believed that political uncertainty would be the deciding factor in our success or failure. We think there’s a good chance that UK mortgage and bridging lending might actually grow a little this year. But even if UKlending growth is static, or worse, it shrinks, there’s still going to be something like a £250bn mortgage market and a £4bn bridging market to go around. That’s a substantial market by any standards and whatever happens, at UTB we’ll be aiming to grow our slice of it this year.