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Can we help minorities?

Last week Mortgage Strategy revealed that London-based broker Quantum is providing advice on mortgages and life assurance for a lifestyle guide for the gay, lesbian and bisexual community.

Launched by a company called Pride Direct, the guide will serve as an online directory for 2.8 million users. Quantum managing director Jonathan Burridge says: “This is about recognising the power of the pink pound and ensuring Pride Direct’s users have the appropriate financial products.”

So, this week Mortgage Strategy asks: “Does the mortgage industry need to do more to target minority groups?”
Mark Leaper Vesta Packaging – I don’t think there is a need to target, as no minority group is actively excluded from any product that the mortgage industry currently offers. Brokers are more than willing to help anyone, no matter what their background is, provided they have bona fide residency status.

Bob Singh, Chess Financial Services – There’s nothing wrong with Quantum offering advice tailored to the gay, lesbian and bisexual community as a business proposition and it’s important for underwriters to understand different cultures. For example, Asian families are very close knit and will help their children get a mortgage. There is also a taboo about defaulting on loans and family members will move hell and high water to help get their relatives out of a tight spot. Finding a niche in the market isn’t a new idea but it’s a good one if the broker has expertise in a specific field.

Shane Craig, Paymentcare – Rather than looking at this as a case of doing more to target minorities, I would say that any development within the mortgage industry that are designed to better serve the needs of individuals and customers as a whole is a good thing, and surely another step in direction of Treating Customers Fairly.

Tanya Jackson, Yorkshire – Our mantra for many years was ‘Everything is available to everyone,’ but times change, and we’ve changed with them. The first niche group of borrowers we focussed on was first-time buyers, recognising their specific needs and addressing them with particular products. The Yorkshire has continued to look at segments of the market and earlier this year launched Fresh Start, the only mortgage designed to meet the requirements of people who are separating or divorcing. Whilst we’re still strongly against offering better deals to new customers than are available to existing, loyal customers, it is also important to continue identifying opportunities presented by different groups and to develop products and services to meet their needs.

Melanie Bien, Savills Private Finance – Although the gay, lesbian and bisexual community is termed a minority group, its members are growing in influence, wealth and number. The pink pound is no myth. An industry that ignores it is doing itself no favours. While it is good news that the mortgage industry is finally tailoring products to the gay and lesbian community, it is still early days and much more needs to be done. The mortgage market in this country should be capable of providing the choice and innovation this community requires as it is one of the most sophisticated in the world, offering all manner of rates and products to borrowers.

Jonathan Cornell, Hamptons We wouldn’t be keen on targeting minorities because our business is the mainstream. To provide a service or product tailored for a minority group would require an understanding of that groups’ wants and needs, and this doesn’t fit with our business strategy. But of course there is always scope for firms to diversify or specialise, so good to luck to Quantum.


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