How can the Government ensure the shared equity element of Help to Buy is more of a success than FirstBuy?
I actually think there is not a lot more it could have done to make this product more attractive for people wanting to buy a new home. To caveat that, you can measure success in two different ways. If we see good take-up but we end up without building more new houses than we would have already then that could be counted as not being successful. What we should see is more homes being build, that is the point of this scheme. If we can get closer to 160,000 homes being built then it will be a success.
Do you agree with the Office for Budget Responsibility’s assertion that the scheme would lead to house prices increasing?
I do not think that is a problem because we have got a much more tighter control on mortgage valuation work and surveyors will make sure this scheme is not used to creep house prices up. That is, again, because now we have a number of very good new-build surveying companies and much better competition across lenders for valuation work.
What plans does the Mortgage Advice Bureau have for the coming year?
We want to continue to replicate the good work we have done in the estate agency area in new build, with the aim of becoming one of the largest players in new build broking. We have a heavy investment planned this year in technology, like tablet technology. But the key this year is to concentrate on our AR distribution – we want to work with ARs who want to increase their business.
Have you got any secret talents?
I’m a big golfer but I would never describe myself as a talented golfer. I can hit the ball further than most people but it doesn’t necessarily go in the right direction.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
A fireman. I went through the first set of interviews as a fireman but then Royal Bank of Scotland offered me a job on its management trainee programme so I went down that route instead.
Apart from property, what was the most expensive purchase you ever made?
In proportion to what I was earning, the most expensive purchase I ever made was a BMW 330 when I first started off as an adviser. It cost me a fortune to run so I got rid of it after about 10 months.