60 seconds with…Neil Warman

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Neil Warman
chief commercial and finance officer
hml

How do you think lenders can better manage arrears?
It depends what the lender is trying to achieve as the management of customers will change according to the lender’s strategy. We’re managing the mortgage accounts of more than 30 lenders, many of which have sold their products through the intermediary market, and they all do things differently. But we’ve found that as a rule, the sooner you engage with borrowers the more likely you are to agree a solution.

Does a reduction in arrears mean the economic outlook is improving?
It means that we’ve seen a reduction in the arrears we’re managing at the moment but everything is not hunky-dory. The Department for Work and Pensions’ reduced support for borrowers will contribute towards an increase in arrears in the last quarter of this year and there are lots of other factors that are all finely balanced at the moment. It only takes one of them, for example, unemployment or interest rates, to go the wrong way and the situation could change overnight.

Are there any similarities between the challenges you and mortgage advisers are facing?
Yes, particularly around customer experience and changing demands. We can’t dictate to our clients’ customers that they should deal with us in a certain way between certain hours anymore. We have to provide the facilities so they can deal with us when and how they want to. Brokers are good at providing a bespoke customer experience but they will also be facing the challenge of providing customers with the information they want, at a time they want, in the way they want.

What do you foresee happening over the next year?
We’ll start to see the market of the future take shape. The mortgage industry has taken a beating in the past few years but it’s a fundamental part of the UK’s psyche. People will always want to move house and demand for mortgages is there. I think we’ll see some innovative ways in which lenders meet the needs of borrowers and more competition from new entrants.

Have you got any evidence for this?
Yes, we know mortgage advisers are keen to see more choice and availability for their clients and we’ve seen lots of behind-the-scenes activity from new and existing lenders that are trying to deliver for them. The challenge at the moment is around adequate capitalisation, funding and authorisation, rather than simply the desire to lend.

Interview by Christine Toner