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Matthew Arena, managing director at Exclusive Connections is in this month’s Hot Seat.

What achievement are you most proud of, in or out of the industry?

Scoring the winning penalty to take my college football team into the semi final of the cup. I’d missed all five of my practice attempts before the game and it was one of my last games of competitive football.

Who has made the biggest impact on the packaging industry to date?

Stephen Knight. He’s taught us all a few lessons; some good, some not so good, but there’s no denying the huge impact on the industry as a whole.

Who do you feel has let the industry down?

Michael Bolton’s comments are unprofessional and attention seeking rather than thought provoking or intelligent.

How do you feel about the industry at the moment?

Excited. Things are changing rapidly throughout the industry, from funding through to the consumer’s circumstances

What do you feel about the debate on whether packager associations should be paying VAT?

The question is poorly phrased. Any business in the industry that is not paying VAT on a ‘marketing allowance’ is possibly at risk. The gross procuration fee as disclosed on the KFI is not subject to VAT. We have a different business model to the so called packager associations so would not wish to comment on their position. From an EC perspective we are VAT registered and pay VAT wherever it applies.

Do you think fraud exists in the packager industry?

No. Packagers have too much to lose and we have never come across any such problems with any members or counterparties.

If you had one prediction for the industry in the next three years what would it be?

The people working in it will be a lot more relaxed than they are now.

What do you see as the biggest threat to the industry?

I see regulation as the single biggest threat to the mortgage industry. In my eyes regulation has failed and the post credit crunch world is likely to see a tightening of the regulatory noose which I think will be counterproductive. It fails any form of cost benefit analysis and has certainly not brought stability to the industry.

What advice would you give brokers in the current market?

Pick you partners carefully and look to diversify your business. There are a number of ways to increase both activity and margins. Brokers can use packagers as an external support function to help get their core mortgage deals through but also sell commercial, secured loans and even overseas mortgages or properties.


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