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MEX plans direct approach

Mortgage Express aims to broaden its distribution model in the next year with a direct to consumer proposition.

Speaking exclusively to Mortgage Strategy Bradford & Bingley’s lending director Chris Gillespie, who now heads MEX after managing director Tim Dawson’s recent departure, says the high street lender has seen more people walking into its branches and requesting specialist products. In response, it has started to investigate direct channels for distributing MEX products.

But Gillespie says the decision does not reflect a diminished commitment to intermediary lending, or imply that MEX and B&B are merging.

He adds: “Specialist products are becoming more mainstream and we are looking to lend more under the B&B brand, but MEX is an intermediary business and we’re not interested in moving away from that.”

He says it’s too early to say how a MEX direct to consumer prop- osition will be structured, although trading through B&B branches will be one option to consider.

Gillespie also says that, by the second half of 2006, MEX plans to offer monthly income payments on its lifetime mortgage rather than just lump sum payouts. He predicts that equity release will really take off over the next few years and hopes monthly payments will make products more popular with brokers and consumers.

Stuart Wilson, managing director of the Equity Release Advice Service, says although most clients are looking for capital in a lump sum, there is also some demand for regular income products.

But he warns: “The danger lies in the impact on state benefits.

“Clients on lower incomes are generally those most suited to regular income products but they are also the people most likely to be receiving benefits.”

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