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Reflection on 2021

18th December 2021

In a year best described as ‘very busy’ for brokers and lenders alike, we’ve all had to roll up our sleeves in order to manager unprecedented customer demand off the back of the Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday. Business development director, Emma Graham explains what this has meant for Hodge.

Well, what a year it’s been! Recent ONS figures confirm  the average cost of a home in the UK is now £264,000, with industry experts citing the tax holiday as a key driver in stimulating this inflation. I dare say this would have had some level of impact but think the real driver remains the on-going in-balance between supply and demand as we continue to fail to hit our annual new homes target.

If we take a look at the current economic back drop it’s no surprise we’ve seen the Bank of England raise the base rate to tackle inflation and as a mortgage community we have a really positive role to play in reassuring borrowers at a time of such uncertainty.

Yes, interest rates have risen, but they rise from historic lows. In addition, a significant proportion of borrowers are locked into fixed rate products and won’t feel any immediate impact. You add in the fact  UK house prices have increased by 11.8% in the year up to September 2021 and there is certainly a lot to be positive about as we move towards 2022.

And talking about positivity, with our intermediaries at the heart of all we do, we’ve continued to invest in our specialist proposition and our sales team to ensure we give you all the support you need to help you grow your customer base and your business.

A strengthened team 

In what’s been another unprecedented year – actually, can we say that anymore, it is just precedented now? – we’ve continued to invest in our Sales team to ensure you get the support needed both in the field and on the phone. 

We’ve rewarded hard work with promotion and added four new members to the team giving us added depth of knowledge and experience. 

In the past 12 months… 

  • James Enos has been promoted to national account manager for the south having previously been business development manager for Wales and the south west 
  • Andrea Roberts joined us as national account manager for the north, bringing with her a wealth of knowledge having spent 10 years as key account manager for the Principality 
  • We’ve welcomed Stuart Ottery as field business development manager for Wales and the south west. Stuart has brought technical knowledge, particularly around the buy to let and holiday let markets having spent time working for Coventry, Precise and more recently Kent Reliance  
  • Hema Patel is now in role as a field business development manager for the north of England and Scotland. Hema has a great background in later life lending joining us from Key Group 
  • Kate Morgan joined the team as a telephone business development manager for the north of England and Scotland. 

Our people are our greatest asset and I’m sure you’ll agree we’ve acquired some great expertise here which will make us even better equipped to help you help your customers navigate the specialist markets we service as we move forwards.

Exciting initiatives 

In listening to your feedback we know flexibility is key for you and your customers, so we’ve made sure to flex our criteria over the course of the financial year so our proposition stays as relevant as possible. 

In 2021 Hodge has: 

  • Added repayment functionality to both our 50+ and Holiday Let mortgages 
  • Increased our LTV from 70% to 75% across our 50+ and RIO mortgages  
  • Increased our maximum loan size to £1.5m across all products. 
    • Reduced its minimum purchase price from £120,000 to £100,000 which will benefit a number of regions across the UK specifically properties across Wales and Scotland 
  • Amended property criteria to cater for shared drainage  
  • Cut rates on many of our mortgages.

Doing this has allowed us to help you help even more customers in the moments that matter. Listening to feedback is essential for us as a specialist lender. 

From a retention perspective, our strategy shows continued commitment to the intermediary market. As an intermediated lender, we understand our customers are introduced, so we’ve started writing to you four months prior to maturity, ensuring we give you a full calendar month to touch base with your customers before we write out to them.

We’re fully supportive of the principle of best advice and appreciate that a fresh fact find two or five years on can often be what’s best. That’s why our customer letters also signpost them to a financial adviser, we’re doing all we can to ensure you are a key part of our retention strategy. 

Speedy service 

Speed to offer has reduced dramatically from over 30 days at the beginning of the financial year down to 20 days for the month of November meaning we’ve been able to provide a more efficient service which has been critical off the back of the stamp duty holiday. 

Our flexible approach to underwriting has seen us assist over 1,600 of your customers this year. Our experienced underwriters always assess cases on their own merits and have proactively found ways to say yes. This bespoke approach has helped many customers the larger high street banks wouldn’t be willing to serve. 

We’ve certainly been on hand to support you as well. Our experienced intermediary support desk has  answered well over 20,000 calls from brokers this year, running affordability checks, agreeing pre-submission applications and supporting those of you who have tried using us for the first time. 

Hopes for Hodge in 2022 and beyond 

Of course, there’s one important event I haven’t touched on from 2021, and that’s the sale of Hodge Lifetime back in February. This strategic decision for Hodge has  and will continue to enable us to free up capital to grow our balance sheet over the coming years. 

This will see us continue on our journey of developing our brand away from being an interest only, later-life lender to becoming a broader specialist whose aim is to serve the underserved. 

Of course, assisting your over 50s customers with financial solutions will continue to form a fundamental part of the Hodge proposition and we remain committed to evolving these products over the course of the year along with our holiday let mortgage range. 

Utilising our underwriting capability around the assessment of complex incomes will see a fresh new proposition from Hodge in the new year and we can’t wait to share this with you over the coming weeks and months. 

We were thrilled to be recently awarded the ‘Mortgage Introducer Later Life Lender of thYear Award’ and the ‘Your Mortgage Award for Best Later Life Lender’.

I think what makes these awards particularly pleasing is the fact we’ve being recognised for the contribution we continue to make to the wider later life market despite the fact we no longer service new equity release business which is only one of many financial solutions.

So all that’s left is for me to thank you all for your support over the year and to wish you all a fantastic Christmas break spent with your family and friends.

We look forward to working ever more closely with you in 2022.

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