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Stars shine in the darkness

2008 was probably the toughest year many in the mortgage sector have experienced. With the wholesale markets closed, lending has pretty much ground to a halt and the impact on firms in the intermediary sector has been challenging to say the least. Many brokers who contact Mortgage Strategy are wondering when the next customer they can actually help is going to walk through their door.

But firms are adapting and the bottom line for all should be survival. So it’s good to see Mortgage Times taking a proactive stance in managing the way its appointed representatives get paid, with its trading partnership with Legal & General.

Many titans have been felled by the rapid downturn in the past year, but L&G still stands tall. And by taking payment for mortgages out of Mortgage Times’ hands for ARs of its Vision network and it mortgage club, L&G is staying true to its logo and offering a protective umbrella against the market storm.

Despite the market turmoil, brokers and lenders continue to battle through. To that end it was good to see the great and the good of the industry come together last week for the Mortgage Strategy Awards. Despite the difficult times the mood at the event was one of resilience rather than defeat – of hope rather than pessimism. The sector is not stupid. We know how bad things are but we also know moping and self-pity are futile.

As a wise man once said, you haven’t failed until you stop trying so it was good to see the mortgage sector fighting on and deserving winners being rewarded.

Details of winners and runners-up will be available soon in a special supplement but in the meantime Mortgage Strategy would like to thank everyone who attended for a great night.

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Shadow MPC: This month’s decision: hold

Melanie Bien, Director, Savills Private Finance Decision: Hold

There’s not much room left for the Monetary Policy Committee to manoeuvre with the Bank of England base rate at 1%. Indeed, further cuts in interest rates at this stage may have an adverse impact on the economy as savings rates are already unattractively low. If they were to fall further there would be even less incentive for savers to deposit their money, restricting the cash available to banks and building societies to lend. With five rate cuts in as many months and the MPC revealing in the minutes of its last meeting that its inflation target is unlikely to be met solely by cutting the base rate, this is a good time for it to pause for thought. Hopes now rest on quantitative easing, with the Bank writing to the Treasury to ask permission to print cash to increase money supply. The MPC believes this would give it a tool to limit the downward pressure on demand resulting from the financial crisis. I vote for a hold.