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60 Seconds with…Start Financial Services manager Tom Cleary

Tom Cleary

How do you think the Bank of England’s LTI limits will affect lending in the short term? 

The LTI caps will not have a significant effect because the majority of lending is well below 4.5 times income anyway. But the Bank is sending conflicting messages to lenders because the whole point of the MMR was to move away from the blunt instrument of income multiples.

Do you think gross lending in 2014 will exceed the Council of Mortgage Lenders’ revised forecast of £200bn for 2014/15? 

I think we’ll struggle to hit £200bn unless lenders seriously up their game in the second half of the year. Service levels will need to improve across the industry if we are to stand any chance of that happening. There are too many cases being held up as a result of poor service levels, which seems a nonsensical reason to hold back the market.

Is there still a place for the Help to Buy scheme in a market where house prices are rising so rapidly? Should the scheme be regionalised? 

There is absolutely still a place for Help to Buy but not in London if the limit is £150,000. The majority of Help to Buy cases are outside London anyway so I don’t understand imposing the limit of £200,000 maximum purchase price. House prices are not rising at double-digit pace nationally. London is pushing the averages up and, as such, should be factored out of these kinds of decisions. A regional policy would make some sense. 

Do you think the Bank of England will raise interest rates before the end of 2014?

No. Despite all the talk within the Bank and from MPC members about rates rising sooner rather than later, I don’t expect the first rise until the middle of next year.

If you could meet a famous person, past or present, who would you choose and why?

William Marshall. He was the greatest knight that ever lived. He served under four kings of England and outlived three of them. 

What is your favourite book? 

The Greatest Knight. It will not surprise you to hear it is all about the life of William Marshall.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. It is an old cliché but it inspires me to clear my desk before I leave the office every night.

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