60 seconds with… James Chidgey, senior manager of corporate accounts, Nationwide

You are moving to lead Nationwide’s new-build lending in July, what does the new role entail?

It’s bringing more of a focus to new-build externally so we have a clear line of sight with the main builders and specialist brokers. We’ve had various people manage the relationships but we now want an external focus, as it has become an important part of our portfolio. I’m not training a big team as we already have one. Right now I’m just finding my feet before I start in July.

How important was last November’s decision to change the way you value new-build homes?
It was a crucial moment, perhaps more important than the market realised. We had seen our new-build numbers rise dramatically and now we have an open door to all the leading new-build developers. It has changed the dynamic of our new-build lending.

What do you make of the NewBuy Guarantee scheme?
We had been looking to support first-time buyers when NewBuy came along. We quickly decided to take advantage of it and launched it in early April. We have already had our first completion. We’re the only lender to have launched it via all intermediaries.

Is the future bright for the new-build sector?
The move on new-build is gaining momentum in the country as builders start to build more properties. Building has been at an all-time low – in 2010 we were back to the numbers we were building in the 1920s. Builders have a lot to do to meet the government agenda but the relaxation of planning rules will help. The demand for housing goes on and on, and it’s a thirst that hasn’t been quenched.

Do you have any secret talents?
I had a special talent for picking horses at the Cheltenham races, until earlier this year when I only picked the winner on two races.

What is the best advice you have ever received?
In my 20s a senior manager in a big company told me to never underestimate my abilities. I didn’t have a great deal of confidence then and it made me sit up and re-evaluate my career.

What book are you currently reading?
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger.

Interview by Samuel Dale