The value of consistency, sticking to pledges made to brokers, and focusing on good customer outcomes
Coventry recently released a 50 per cent LTV range. Can you explain more about this?
Coventry is a growth business. Throughout my time with the Society we’ve grown by about 10 per cent each and every year, and this was also achieved throughout the dark days of the credit crisis. Part of this comes from the fact that we’re also a low risk business. Our aim is to protect individual members and, in doing so, maintain the financial strength of the Society as a whole.
So we’re always interested in areas that help us grow, without overly stretching our risk appetite. Our 50 per cent LTV range reflects both the current competitiveness of the mortgage market but also the environment we are experiencing. Clients sitting on significant equity still need to make the most of their money and by putting the right product out there, we hope we can attract clients in this position.
What else can the market expect to see from Coventry this year?
In many ways, people can expect more of the same. ‘Consistency’ may not be as sexy a word as ‘innovation’ but Coventry will be doing what brokers expect us to be doing – offering competitive mortgages in both the owner-occupied and buy-to-let markets.
And in doing so, we will concentrate on what’s important to our intermediary partners and their clients. For example, we’ve done valuations on day one for more than 10 years now and were the first to offer pledges that really mean something to brokers.
These are pledges that we’ve stuck to, of course, such as the 48 hours’ notice of product withdrawal and no dual-pricing or cross-selling of insurance, but also being upfront about the service we’re offering. Also working our socks off to maintain the service brokers expect even when faced with a surge in demand ahead of the changes to stamp duty.
Today, more so than ever, we see that the market is changing and developing and not in a particularly predictable way. We won’t take a back seat, however. We’re open for business, we aim to keep on growing and we’re looking for the opportunities presented by changing customer needs – whether this is lending to older borrowers or adapting to the challenges facing lenders and landlords alike.
In this we recognise the importance of good advice, and intermediaries will continue to be central to our distribution. Most importantly to us and to brokers, we will work in a way that focuses on good customer outcomes. And by doing so I’m confident that we will be as successful in the future as we were during the credit crisis.
As a child, what was your dream job?
I always thought that being a spy would be cool but realised that banking was a little less dangerous – the rest is history.
Do you have any secret talents?
As a child I played chess competitively and whilst practising used to play my brother while I was blindfolded. In my teenage years, I developed into quite a fast runner so turned my attention to athletics and competed in British League meetings for Wycombe Phoenix Harriers.
What are your hobbies?
I love spending time with my family and am still into rugby, though watching these days rather than playing. Like many mature sportsmen I seem to have ended up in Lycra, and you can often find me wheezing round the Cotswolds trying to get fit for a trip to the Pyrenees later this year.
What is the best advice you have received?
You spend a long time working so do something you enjoy, and treat people as you would like to be treated.
Who is your all-time hero, and why?
Apart from my father, who is sadly no longer with us, it would have to be Usain Bolt who has completely dominated sprinting and made history by defending his Olympic titles at London 2012.
If you were not in your current role, what would you be doing?
Cycling somewhere in the sunshine.
Year established: 1884
Headcount: 2,200 (including 70 dedicated staff in the Intermediary Development Team)
Address: Coventry Building Society, PO Box 9, High Street
Coventry CV1 5QN
Tel: 0800 121 7788 (IDT)
Tel: 0800 121 8899 (Customer Service Centre for Coventry Building Society)
Coventry Permanent Economic Building Society was founded in 1884 by Thomas Mason Daffern and a small group of local people. By the beginning of the First World War the ‘Economic’, as it was then known, was the largest building society in the area. In 2010, it merged with Stroud & Swindon and is the third-largest UK building society.