HSBC thrives as rivals retreat

HSBC and First Direct have recorded their best lending figures for five years as competitors withdraw from the mort- gage market.

A spokesman for HSBC, which lends direct to consumers, says the surge in business levels has come because other lenders have reduced their presence in the market.

He says: “We’ve been able to maintain a market presence despite the prevailing economic conditions because our loans are funded primarily from retail deposits, not securities.”

On April 14 HSBC launched its Rate Matcher range, which is designed to match borrowers’ existing fixed rates. While this could account for the rise in demand for its deals, the lender says it has no figures to confirm or deny the suggestion.

Data from Mform.co.uk indicates HSBC is one of most popular lenders in the market this month. The consumer finance website says applications to HSBC have trebled.

Peter Mounty, director of Communications Plus UK, says: “Rate Matcher gave HSBC lots of publicity for deals that look great but have high fees.

“The lender has held its nerve, pushing further into lending while its rivals have retreated.”

Jonathan Cornell, managing director of Hamptons Mortgages, says: “It is easier for firms to expand their market share when the competition is pulling out. In the past HSBC has not played a significant part in mortgage lending and for its size has punched below its weight.”

He adds: “But Rate Matcher is an innovative remortgage scheme and it will be interesting to see how big a share of the market it ends up with.”