New equity release referral service unveiled

Home & Capital Advisers is offering a referral service to brokers who may not have the expertise to advise on equity release products themselves. This partnership arrangement enables them to assist their customers and generate valuable fee income by referring the opportunity to Home & Capital Advisers.

Nigel HareScott, managing director of Home & Capital Advisers, said: “Brokers who deal with customers who are over the age of 55 – and that’s most of them – should be in a position to advise on equity release products, both lifetime mortgages and home reversion plans.

“For one reason or another, they may not have obtained the necessary qualification, either because they can’t face more exams or because they don’t see it as a large enough market to warrant the time and cost. Award-winning Home & Capital Advisers offers a tailored referral service to intermediaries to enable them to support this important and growing market, providing qualified specialist equity release advisers who will find the right solution for the customer using SHIP approved products.”

Home & Capital Advisers shares 50% of the procuration fee received with the broker who originated the lead. The customer will remain the broker’s customer even if they come back for a further advance or if they wish to move home. Home & Capital Advisers assumes all the advice risk.

“Intermediaries who ignore the potential growth of the equity release market are missing a trick. This is the ideal way of getting involved, even if they don’t have the necessary expertise and qualifications in-house. Working with top-ranked Home & Capital Advisers will enable them to help and retain their elderly customers and generate additional income,” added Hare Scott.

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First Direct cuts fixed rates

first direct is reducing the cost of its two-year fixed rate mortgages from today.

The new rates are a two-year fixed rate at 5.59% (6.3% APR); £499 booking fee and £999 arrangement fee. (Previous pricing: 5.76%; £499 booking fee and £1,499 arrangement fee.)

There is a low fee version of a two-year fixed rate at 5.89% (6.2% APR); £99 booking fee and £399 arrangement fee. (Previous pricing: 5.99%; £99 booking fee and £399 arrangement fee.)

All these mortgages revert to the bank’s standard variable rate, currently 6.00%, at the end of the fixed term. The maximum loan size remains at £400,000 and first direct has not changed its maximum loan to value (LTV) of 80%.

The pricing of the bank’s five and 10-year fixed rate mortgages is unchanged.

Chris Pilling, first direct’s chief executive, said: “We regularly review our fixed rate mortgage offers to make sure they’re competitive. Today, we’re reducing the cost of our popular two year fixed rates, which is likely to give them a prominent place in the best buy tables.”

Pink Home Loans are set to diversify

Pink Home Loans is planning to expand its panel to explore other income opportunities for its intermediary customers. The company is currently looking to add bridging loans, equity release and home reversion plans to expand further its proposition over the coming months.

Neil Hoare, associate director, marketing and IT, said: “Pink is very much aware that particularly in the current market conditions intermediary customers need to focus on sectors other than mortgages to ensure that they maintain their incomes to see them through the current market turbulence. We are continually looking for new opportunities to boost our broker’s earnings and over the coming months our customers can expect to see a raft of new opportunities to our range of services.

“One area we can help is in protection sales and we will be providing additional training courses during June to assist our appointed representatives in their sales technique in this area and to help meet their client’s protection needs.”

New bridging manager at United Trust Bank

United Trust Bank has expanded its property finance team by appointing Hannah Robertson as a bridging sales manager.

She has been brought on board especially to enhance the Bank’s bridging loan business.

Robertson has held senior development roles at bridging lenders European Collateral Finance and Affirmative Finance.

Managing director of United Trust Bank, Roger Tidyman, said: “Hannah has broad experience in Bridging Finance and has a proven capability to sell and deliver bridging finance solutions. We are confident she will add real value to our already successful bridging finance team.”

Robertson said: “I’m very optimistic. In contrast to other bridge lenders, United Trust Bank is well funded and is owner managed. This gives us great flexibility and enables me to develop new client relationships with confidence.”

Nationwide figures don’t tell whole story, says NAEA

The National Association of Estate Agents says Nationwide’s house price index does not portray regional variations.

Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the NAEA, says falling house prices are not being seen across the UK and some areas are showing signs of stability.

Bolton King says: “The national sales figures do not tell the whole story. We know from our members that some areas continue to do better than others. Our recent survey of estate agents shows some stability returning to the market in the number of sales agreed, the number of viewings before sales are secured and the average difference between asking and selling prices.”

The NAEA says that although the credit crunch has taken hold the economy still has strong fundamentals including low unemployment and interest rates plus strong demand for property.

Bolton King adds that the main problem facing the market is a lack of consumer confidence, with prospective buyers adopting a more cautious approach to property investments.

Paradigm gives members HSBLite access

Paradigm Mortgage Services is to offer all members access to the new Home Buyer System Lite (HBSLite) sourcing system.

The HBSLite system has been launched as a slimmed down version of the full Home Buyer System. It allows advisers to source not just all intermediary mortgages but also direct to lender products.

The system also delivers full Key Facts Illustration (KFI) generation, the production of Initial Disclosure Documents (IDDs) and provides ‘proof of research’ for all brokers.

Paradigm Mortgage Services’ members can sign up to receive HBSLite via the Paradigm website.

Bob Hunt, chief executive of Paradigm Mortgage Services, said: “At a time when the entire intermediary community is being squeezed and is crying out for a solution to the dual pricing problem, Paradigm is delighted to be able to offer our members access to the one system available which provides the answer. Brokers have been placed in a position where they cannot give full advice because they have no access to information on lenders’ direct products.

“HBSLite changes this situation by allowing advisers the chance to source not only intermediary products but all those mortgages that are offered direct by lenders. This means that advisers, for the first time, have full details of all products available in the marketplace and are able to offer real whole of market advice. Paradigm is all about partnering up with firms who are looking to help intermediaries and advisers, and with this system, Home Buyer Systems is certainly providing a unique solution to our members’ problems.”

Richard Angliss, managing director of Home Buyer Systems, said: “HBSLite opens the way for mortgage advisers to offer customers a fee-based research and administration service if the best mortgage for the customer’s needs is a direct-to lender product. It will also aid customer retention for the sale of commission-earning products such as buildings, contents, and income protection insurance, and life cover. A scale of charges can be applied, ranging from a basic fee for providing the product information to a fee that incorporates all the work needed to fill in and submit the application. Home Buyer will shortly be introducing merchant services in order to allow advisers to collect the fee payment by debit/credit card rather than via the borrower’s solicitor on completion.”

Compliance guru Warren launches consultancy

Industry compliance veteran Bill Warren, has launched a new consultancy firm providing compliance support for financial services firms to ensure they meet the necessary regulatory standards.

Bill Warren Compliance LLP has been established to provide personal compliance advice to firms providing a full compliance health check and providing recommendations to ensure compliance standards are met by applying what he calls “a practical common sense approach”.

The firm is offering a range of compliance services all focused on the individual business model of the firm. Services range from reviews of management and controls, file checking, Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) requirements and Management Information to advise on the best approach to Principles-based regulation.

Warren is a well-respected compliance figure within the mortgage industry with over 39 years’ experience in the financial services industry and has held a number of senior compliance roles including: director for the Regulatory Alliance of Mortgage Packagers (RAMP); compliance director for Complete Mortgage & Loan Services Ltd; senior consultant for Mortgage Compliance at eg Consultancy; and national compliance manager for the Mortgage Code Compliance Board (MCCB).

Warren said: “I am pleased to announce the launch of this new compliance consultancy, Bill Warren Compliance LLP. At a time when many financial services firms are facing real challenges, our focus will be on providing a personal service that gives peace of mind to the client and delivers real value in terms of review and recommendation. We have a breadth of experience and expertise particularly in the mortgage intermediary sector and will be using this to help firms improve their approach to the key issues such as the systems and control implications of CP/07/23, especially the outsourcing implications, which may not be fully understood by the intermediary market.

“Firms across the board can expect a much more visible regulator over the months and years ahead and it is vitally important they have their house in order. There are a number of major regulatory challenges to meet and responsibilities to fulfil and quality compliance support can make the difference between success and failure. Bill Warren Compliance has been launched to help firms achieve their compliance goals. We can provide valuable support in a number of areas including helping firms prepare for the increased FSA visit schedule and ensuring they meet the end of year TCF deadline. There is much for firms to do and I believe Bill Warren Compliance LLP can considerably smooth the compliance process for all firms in this demanding market.”