Speculation was mounting last week as Mortgage Strategy went to press that Bankhall is to buy Norwich Union's mortgage club, bringing its total intermediary base to around 40,000.
Although both Bankhall and NU refused to comment on what they say is market speculation, sources believe the deal is definitely going ahead and its announcement is imminent.
The deal would put Bankhall in a prime position in the run-up to regulation as by far the biggest force in the mortgage adviser support area.
A source says: “The size of its membership gives it substantial bargaining power in negotiating proc fees with lenders, and great economies of scale.”
This latest move to strengthen its position comes in the wake of its acquisition of John Malone's Premier Mortgage Service from Prudential in January and its strategic alliance with Paymentshield in February.
Bankhall set up its own mortgage support service, Point One, in October 2001 – the first sign of its intention to be a major player. There could be further deals to come, given Bankhall joint chief executive Paul Hogarth's comments at the time of the PMS announcement: “We will enhance our offering with further strategic developments.”
It is not known how the move will affect NU technical mortgage development manager John Whitehead, who runs the club.
NU's mortgage club has been unwilling to state whether it will develop a network principal offering for brokers wishing to become appointed representatives.
This latest move seems to be part of a strategy to focus on core business as NU's Your Move estate agency business is also thought to be up for sale.