What are Santander’s plans for the next 12 months?
Interest in buy-to-let has increased greatly and it is a focus for us in 2015. We have reduced our rates and introduced new products to offer a strong proposition to landlords. I also think the new-build market is set to grow. In February, we launched a specialist new-build desk to better support brokers. We also offer a range of products with extended completion deadlines. Doing all this in an increasingly competitive market will be challenging but we will continue to bring service enhancements to our broker partners and customers.
You have recently relaunched a 10-year fix. Will these become more commonplace in the UK market?
We have seen more 10-year fixed-rate deals enter the market over the past year. Anything that gives customers more choice has to be a good thing and will spark further product innovations. With the Bank base rate at a record low, many borrowers want to lock in to attractive fixed rates. The longer-term products will not be perfect for everyone as a lot can happen in 10 years but our relaunch offers great value to some customers whose circumstances suit longer-term peace of mind.
Is the swing to broker distribution permanent?
Mortgage customers benefit from the choice and flexibility that come from dealing with a quality mortgage intermediary. There is a greater range of products, backed up by expert advice not limited to high-street opening hours. The market has shifted towards intermediaries again since the MMR and I believe it will continue through this year. It will be supported by the increase in lending appetite across most major UK banks and building societies. A strong intermediary proposition is a must in order to be a mortgage player in the UK with any serious market share aspirations.
If you could choose a superpower, what would it be and why?
Teleportation. The thought of how much more I could accomplish in a day is very appealing.
Who do you most admire?
Anyone who works hard to become a positive role model, inspiring and motivating others. A good example is David Beckham.
What is the best advice you have received?
Getting better never stops. If you stop believing that, it is game over.
What was the last book you read?
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.