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Supermarket without gimmicks

Just six months ago Dev Malle sent shockwaves around the mortgage industry when he announced that he was leaving Pink, the company where he made his name. It was later revealed his new home would be Personal Touch Financial Services. Then for three months no more was said on the subject. There was no fanfair build up, no exciting countdown. The mortgage world carried on spinning while Malle had, as he put it, “very green fingers”. Then on the October 23 his gardening leave from Pink ended and Malle was ready to begin what he describes as “the best position in the mortgage industry today”.

Malle had no doubt been successful at the distributor but did it prove too little to fulfil his passions for the mortgage industry?

He is quick to put this matter straight. “I would challenge anyone for saying I wasn’t passionate about what I believed in when I was at Pink,” he says. “I’ve got some great friends there. I think a time came when those conversations were going on and your mind starts working overtime as to whether you should look at some of the options and when the PTFS offer came along I couldn’t refuse.”

Malle’s move to PTFS came just after a long awaited announcement that the network had received a cash injection from Lloyds TSB which aquired a 22% share in the firm.

“I think the position itself is probably one of the best positions if you’re in the mortgage market,” he says. “If you take the supermarket concept, clearly we see ourselves as Tesco. It’s not just about size though. It’s about growth and where we sit in the market. Mortgages are our groceries.”

Malle says the extra capital from Lloyds’ acquisition will help PTFS grow through acquisition, giving the supermarket the chance to become even more well stocked.

“We are actively looking at companies we can acquire, whether they be IFAs or mortgage networks,” he says. “Our organic growth plans are quite substantial. We will look to acquire but our key strategy hasn’t changed and that’s helping our biggest firms to grow. We say: ‘Your growth is our growth’. It sounds cheesy but its genuine.”

Malle obviously thrives on success. After studying for a BA hons in law and economics and a post grad in employee relations he began a graduate training course with Nationwide. This was followed by several years in retail management before a move to UCB Homeloans. He describes his move to Pink as the “biggest in my career” – jumping from lender to intermediary and championing the broker cause.” We see ourselves as Tesco. It’s not just about size though. It’s about growth and where we sit in the market. Mortgages are our groceries”At Pink, Malle helped set up the network and helped the company achieve a five-star service award. You get the feeling he didn’t move to PTFS to rest on his laurels and that the opportunity to make changes was another pulling point for him.

“We’ve already made some changes. We’ve already agreed a range of exclusive and semi-exclusive products to renegotiate some of our fees so our volume is recognised in the fees that lenders pay us. That’s had a positive impact on members and our growth plans as well. The biggest change is that early next year we will be relaunching our directly authorised proposition. It’s one of the best-kept secrets at PTFS but we do deal with DAs. Having said that we’re going to make things even easier for DAs. We don’t want to go out with gimmicks. Some people have loads of gimmicks and call them solutions. We won’t do that.

“There was a concern that I was going to come in and strip down the PTFS packager panel but I believe members should have choice.” Malle says. “It is essential that we keep control of distribution and we will continue with the packager panel that we have at the moment – our premier panel and our secondary panel. We work particularly close with our premier panel and they have access to our member database. We categorically won’t add packagers to our panel where we have concerns from a financial perspective. Due diligence will always play a part and in the future that can only get tighter.

“Will we be speaking to packaging partners and restricting access to satellite packaging? Yes we will. Choice is important but expanding our packaging panel is not something that we are currently looking at. But if you ask whether we are looking to give a robust packaging proposition to our members then the answer can only be yes.

“Controlling our packager panel means we don’t have to see packagers as a necessary evil – they are an essential partner.”

Malle is, by his own admission, extremely happy, and finds the mortgage industry “busy, cool and changing”.

He adds: “It’s such a motivational industry to be a part of. At the moment I can’t say I would rather be anywhere else.”


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