2019 has begun in interesting fashion – perhaps more interesting for some than others and I of course include ourselves in that bracket.
To that end, I wanted to discuss and clarify a number of points that have been raised since we made the announcement about our product range on the 8th January. From our perspective, it’s important to be transparent – something that we have always sought to be – and to tell stakeholders where we currently are as a business.
There’s no doubting that, from a Fleet Mortgages’ perspective, the decision to pull our product range at the start of the month was in no way ideal and we appreciate that there will be a level of concern around this. Coming off the back of a couple of other lenders announcing they would not be looking to secure new business in 2019, I can understand why some might jump to a conclusion which suggests our business is following the same path.
The critical point is that the trust between Fleet Mortgages and the intermediaries that use us holds above all else, and we were not prepared to continue taking applications unless we knew 100% that we could complete the loan.
So, just to add some further meat to the bone, we have not only secured our next funding line but we are also in fairly advanced discussions with other potential funders that are likely to bring other funding pools online and of course, when these are agreed, we will be letting our intermediary and distribution partners know about this.
Fleet Mortgages has originated over £1.4 billion of mortgages for two of the world’s largest asset managers and 2018 was our most successful year. Just before the end of last year we – somewhat earlier than anticipated – completed £400m of loans for one of those funders. Much of this was down to the quality of our product range and also the fact we launched a fixed-fee set of products which obviously went down well with advisers and clients alike.
It meant that we originated £580 million of new loans during the calendar year which (at this point) sees us with more than 5,800 loans under management – with no arrears and gave us a pre-tax profit figure of £2.5 million.
On any objective measure this is a successful business – one that has superb people and is a specialist in the buy-to-let sector. That’s hugely important given the changes that have impacted on this market and the fact that we’ve increasingly seen a move towards greater ‘professionalisation’. From the very start, our business has been set up specifically to support portfolio and professional landlords, and this is an approach that we’ll continue to take. Advisers and their clients can be confident of that.
It is perhaps easy to rope us in with other news on the lending front, but in our case, I’m afraid that would be wrong. Of course, the timing of our announcement could have been better. Of course, we would have preferred not to have had to make this decision. But, this is by no means a permanent situation, and whereas I sense the other lenders we have been ‘grouped with’ are not looking to come back to market anytime soon, we are most definitely not in that boat.
We are able to compete and, as our record shows, are able to secure funding and business, offer quality rates and products, and deliver a service that is sought after. Fleet Mortgages will continue to do this and I look forward to being able to present our new product range to the market and our intermediary partners very shortly.
Bob Young is chief executive officer of Fleet Mortgages