What are the main priorities at Foundation Home Loans?
We are a growing company, so our focus is on how we increase our market share, by continually widening distribution, developing new products and enhancing our overall offering.
One focus is on recruiting the right calibre of people into the business. We are also investing heavily in training. As a recent entrant into the market, another big focus is to increase awareness and understanding of our business. We speak to a lot of new brokers each day who wish they had known us earlier.
How is the company navigating the many changes in the buy-to-let sector?
Every market is always faced with change, be it regulatory, technological advances, new market entrants or through changing attitudes and needs within the market.
Adapting to change is something we all have to do. We anticipated more landlords would seek to buy property as a limited company and made sure we had a competitive offering before many others. With regard to the new portfolio landlord rules, for us it is very much business as usual. Half of our BTL business is to portfolio landlords, so we are well placed to continue in this sector, with minimal changes required.
As we navigate the changes, we see opportunities for us and for brokers alike. More than ever, borrowers will need professional advice.
Do you feel there will be any reversal of tax relief cuts or stamp duty hikes in the industry?
Unfortunately, I don’t think that is likely. Unless I became chancellor for a day!
How long have you been in current role and where were you previously?
I have been with the company for 15 years in a variety of roles, taking on my current role as chief executive in 2014. Before joining the company, I was with a City law firm.
How important are mortgage brokers to your business?
Brokers provide an essential service to borrowers. The fact that even in the unregulated BTL market most loans are distributed through intermediaries shows how essential their work is to both borrowers and lenders. We only distribute to brokers, who can access us through certain networks, mortgage clubs or key packagers. Brokers are our customers just as much as our borrowers are.
What is the best thing about the mortgage market?
I think the best thing about the market is that it is very dynamic and responsive to market forces. The industry has many really interesting characters and we should not understate our importance, not just to the housing market but to the economy as a whole.
Who is your all-time hero and why?
Adolfo Suarez, the Spanish Prime Minister who managed the country’s transition to democracy after Franco. He was uncompromising only in his absolute willingness to seek compromise wherever possible to achieve the transition peacefully. And he (literally, as recordings show) didn’t flinch when rogue soldiers stormed parliament during the failed coup in 1981.
Do you have any secret talents?
I’m still trying to identify the obvious ones.
What do you do in your spare time?
I like to be out and about, running, cycling, swimming and hiking. I also read a lot.
If you had not chosen this career path, what else would you have liked to do?
I nearly became a historian.
What is the best advice you have received?
The ethics lecturer at the law firm where I trained advised us never to conceal an error even if we thought we could fix it ourselves.
If you were chancellor for a day, what would be your priorities?
I would reverse the stamp duty increases and the restrictions on mortgage interest deductions, of course.
This article first ran in a Buy-to-Let Supplement produced with Aldermore and Foundation Home Loans