Portillion – Gearing up for battle

Checkmate, or Portillion as it is now known, continues to keep the mortgage market on its toes regarding the strategy it will take when it launches its assault on the mortgage market.  

The big question is, will it come in all guns blazing or will it take the slow and steady approach?

The board of Portillion reads more like a who’s who of financial services, with key appointments to its non-executive board such as  Gerald Gregory, ex-director of Britannia Building Society and Jeremy Sillem, former chairman of Bear Stearns International Limited – the European arm of the New York based investment bank.

Chief executive officer Stephen Knight is without doubt building an army of recruits that makes it tricky for any regulator to turn down.

An ex-FSA director Ronnie Baird has even been appointed to act as senior non- executive director and chairman of the audit committee.

Portillion promises to offer clear and fair products 
and to “do something out of the ordinary” to help its customers.

But as yet there has not been any details as to its funding plans – the appointment ofPhilip Dearing, previously chief executive officer at Market Harborough Building Society as savings director suggests a reliance on retail funds.

But if the lender is to make a dent in the UK mortgage market its funding plan is going to have to be more diverse than reliance on just one source. There are also rumours the lender might have a secret weapon in the form of a large backer.

Portillion currently has backing from RIT Capital Partners, Lord Rothschild’s family interests and Lazard.But the FSA will want to know the ins and outs of any business plan before it grants it authorisation.

The changes to its name and additions to its board would point to Knight and his team doing everything necessary to secure the regulator’s approval.

And all the signs suggest that Portillion’s assault on the mortgage market is drawing closer, let’s just hope that its military strategy is correct.