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One to One: Jackie Bennett, director of mortgages, UK Finance

Relishing being part of a large industry, the big agreement delivery challenge and the need for more diversity in the mortgage market

What are your main objectives in your role as director of mortgages at UK Finance?

To ensure that the UK mortgage lending industry can remain as successful, vibrant and innovative as it can across all tenures throughout the UK. This involves working with regulators and the government to help them understand the impact of their proposals and policies for both lenders and customers.

I also want to make sure that UK Finance continues to represent the breadth and diversity of our membership, understanding the different points of view as well as the similarities.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders was merged into the new trade body last year. How has the transition gone?

The transition has gone well. We continue to represent 98 per cent of the lending industry and it is good to be part of a broader organisation where we are able to collaborate on cross-cutting areas like Brexit, economic crime and vulnerable customers to name but a few, allowing us to offer even more value to our members.

What has been your biggest challenge in the role to date?

Delivering the voluntary industry agreement to help customers on reversion rates at the end of July in just under six weeks was certainly a challenge.

The agreement was in response to the FCA’s Mortgage Market Study and received a positive reaction from our members as well as BSA and IMLA members – we now have 67 lenders representing 95 per cent of active lenders signed up to the agreement.

Further to Chris Woolard’s speech at our annual conference in November, we’re working with the FCA to see how our members may be able to support those customers who are on reversion rates with inactive lenders or unregulated owners, none of whom are UK Finance members.

How does UK Finance work with the FCA?

We have a very good and constructive relationship with the FCA where we are able to debate the issues that are affecting the industry.

Do you feel there is enough diversity in the mortgage and finance sector?

It is certainly a lot better than it was than when I started in the mortgage industry nearly 18 years ago but there is still a way to go. It is good to see so many organisations, including UK Finance, signing up to the Women in Finance initiative.

If there was one thing you would change about the industry, what would it be?

That everyone was as good as the best.

Growing up, what was your dream job?

I grew up living near Heathrow Airport so I always wanted to be an air hostess.

Do you have any secret talents?

I’ve been told I have green fingers and have opened my garden a couple of times under the National Gardens Scheme.

What is the best advice you have received?

Trust your instincts.

What is the toughest decision you have ever had to make?

To leave university before I completed the course. I’d picked a course that I wasn’t enjoying but I was the first in my family to go to university so it was a difficult decision. I’ve since got a degree and my MBA through the Open University – I would recommend the Open University to anyone.

If you were chancellor for a day, what would be your main priorities?

To review stamp duty so that it doesn’t act as a brake on housing transactions and potentially helps those who need it. For example, not applying it to older people who want to downsize. I’d also review the impact of the various tax and other changes on Buy-to-let to see what impact it was having on the broader private rented sector.

Finally, I’d want to understand the impact of the combination of FCA mortgage regulation, the FPC 3 per cent stress test and the PRA limit on high LTI lending to see whether it meant that creditworthy people were being prevented from getting a mortgage.

Company Profile

Year established: 2017

Headcount: 154

Address: 5th Floor, 1 Angel Court, London EC2R 7HJ

Tel: 020 7706 3333

UK Finance represents more than 250 leading firms providing finance, banking, markets and payments-related services in or from the UK. It covers most activities previously undertaken by the Asset Based Finance Association, British Bankers’ Association, Council of Mortgage Lenders, Financial Fraud Action UK, Payments UK and the UK Cards Association.

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