You have recently been promoted to the position of chief executive officer at Vertex Financial Services – what are your plans for the business in 2014?
The three key things for Vertex as we move into 2014 are to achieve growth in the right areas, to make sure we engage with people – both our staff and our customers – and to continue to be as good as possible at what we do. The past 12 months have been good for Vertex – we have secured a number of contract renewals with key, long-term clients, which we believe paints a positive picture of our client relationships. We want to build on that. As the Mortgage Market Review takes hold, the customer experience will become absolutely paramount.
How will the mortgage outsourcing industry have to adapt to the MMR when it comes in April?
MMR looms large on the horizon and the industry has already spent vast amounts of time, energy and resources in preparation. At Vertex, we became the first third-party provider to secure a Variation of Permission to offer mortgage advice. We feel ready for anything next year can throw at us. The challenge of MMR is not beyond our industry, the emphasis will simply be on how we adapt. The focus must be on ensuring processes are slick and customer-focused.
Can outsourcing firms help lenders deal with MMR?
MMR has created an element of confusion in some areas of the industry, and there is a lack of readiness among others. The fact is that MMR is coming and very few organisations will be unaffected. The loss of non-advised sales channels means there is huge pressure on every lender to ensure its customer facing-staff hold the relevant mortgage qualifications.This has created new requirements for skills and training so that the lender or servicer can manage the advice process effectively and in a fully compliant way.We believe that this is a major burden on the industry and that it will drive an increased demand for outsourced services. Ready-made, complementary services offer an alternative to attempting to retrain staff in a short space of time.
What do you predict gross mortgage lending to be in 2014?
My prediction would be somewhere around £160bn. The key point is that we are all forecasting growth which is great news.
How would you describe yourself in five words?
I asked a friend to answer this. They came up with fun, enthusiastic, energetic, motivational and musical. I was happy with those!
What is the most memorable Christmas gift you have ever received?
That’s an easy one – a Pearl Export drum kit. I’m still playing it to this day.
When did you stop believing in Father Christmas?
You never stop believing, do you?
Have you done all your Christmas shopping yet?