60 SECONDS WITH…MELANIE BIEN

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Melanie Bien, Director of communications, Private Finance

Your appearance on BBC Breakfast last week caused quite a stir, were you surprised at the reaction?
I was surprised about how it all blew up from what started as a very short exchange on Twitter. It suddenly became of interest to a lot of people.

Has Kirstie Allsopp called to apologise?
No. The timing of her comments were unfortunate because they came after the comments made on Sky Sports, which I think is partially why the press have been so interested in it.

Do you think sexism exists in the mortgage market?
I suspect there probably is a bit of sexism. It’s a very male dominated industry so people do not necessarily see that much of it because the sector has so few women working in it. But on the whole most men are very respectful towards women and what they do, I have had a lot of support form the men in the industry.

How do you see the broker market at the moment?
There are lots of challenges. We have the Mortgage Market Review and a debate around what is going to happen with that. The intermediary market was a lot more evenly balanced a few years ago in terms of lenders and brokers working together. Now we are seeing some lenders take the position that they don’t want to deal as much with brokers and it is a shame some feel that way.

If you were in charge at the Financial Services Authority for the day what would you do?
I would scrap the MMR in its current form because it’s too much legislation. The market is struggling at the moment and to introduce it as it is would be catastrophic.

Do you have any hidden talents?
I’m a keen runner and completed the London marathon a couple of years ago. But with a small child it’s quite hard to get out and about so I do a lot of running on the treadmill in my garage, which is brilliant. I would recommend it.

What book are you reading at the moment?
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, which looks at Tudor England. I did a history degree so I’m a fan of history books.