Congratulations on expanding your geographical lending area. What factors allowed you to do this and do you think other smaller lenders could follow suit?
This should be seen as a signal that we are open for business, having taken a less active approach over the past 18 months. Strategically, we want our lending to be geographically diverse and we feel that this is the right time to lift previous restrictions. At the same time we must be confident that we can manage whatever volume comes our way – otherwise we will fail in one of our core objectives which is to provide a reliable and consistent service.
As for other small lenders, they must first determine their appetite and capacity for lending.
What challenges and opportunities face building societies over the coming 12 months?
Building societies should be taking advantage of positive sentiment towards them and set their product ranges to fill the gaps vacated by the larger lenders. For example there are many borrowers for whom an interest only mortgage is a perfectly sensible product. Rates offered by societies are extremely competitive at the moment. The mortgage market review might be a challenge but deciding the preferred route early should remove many of the obstacles.
What are your plans for 2013? Do you have any plans to expand into other product areas?
We want to re-establish our name and presence in the market. There are a number of new mortgage products we would like to develop. Watch this space!
What did you dream of doing as a job as a child?
It is hard to remember but I would guess it had something to do with the great outdoors.
What has been the happiest day of your life?
A big birthday celebration (not mine) when everyone, family and friends, were completely at ease. It felt good to reflect that some of that was my doing.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Stick to your principles even if the tide is against you.
Which three people, alive or dead, would you invite to a party?
Ian Hislop (the stories he could tell); Harper Lee (for the stories she sadly didn’t tell); and Larry David (a comic genius).