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One to One: Rob Barnard, sales director, Pepper Money

The importance of having underwriters on the end of a phone, learning from intelligent people and the perils of amateur dramatics

What was the reasoning behind the rebranding from Pepper Homeloans to Pepper Money?

The name change was part of a Pepper Group global rebranding exercise to market all consumer finance products under the Pepper Money brand.

It came at a time when we were launching our new online application portal and revamped product range, and so it was a great opportunity to relaunch Pepper to brokers with a message of ‘come to us with your interesting cases.’

How does Pepper Money plan to grow in the mortgage market this year?

It is important to do the simple things right and so our focus is on products and service. We continue to refine and improve our product range to make it easier for brokers to place their interesting cases with Pepper.

At the beginning of March we launched a specialist range for borrowers in debt management plans and our pricing for customers with recent credit issues is particularly competitive.

What is the firm’s USP?

Our underwriters are genuinely available at the end of the phone to discuss a case.

I think the most important two minutes a broker can spend on a specialist application is picking up the phone at the outset and having a conversation with an underwriter. Which is why we have structured our team to ensure underwriters are always available to speak to a broker.

If there was one thing you would change about the industry, what would it be?

I would change the perception amongst many brokers that placing a case with a specialist lender is harder work than a mainstream application.

If you can take two minutes to pick up the phone and speak to an underwriter at the outset, to find out whether a lender could help with your case and what documents it will require, there is no reason why it should be any more arduous to help clients who don’t fit a high-street lender.

As a child, what was your dream job?

I was never going to be good enough to play for Macclesfield Town and so I always wanted to be an actor. This is probably why I love treading the boards in am-dram.

I am currently writing an adult panto that is called ‘Sin-derella’, ready to hit the stage next January.

Do you have any secret talents?

I am very good at growing giant vegetables and flowers for exhibition.

What is the best advice you have received?

I can’t point to any single piece of advice as I have been lucky enough to work with a lot of very experienced and intelligent people, from whom I have learned a lot.

I take the attitude that you should never stop learning from the people around you.

Who is your all-time hero, and why?

Other than my parents (parents should be everyone’s all-time heroes) and avoiding the usual people like Churchill, etc, I would say Norman Wisdom. He was an award-winning comedy genius who held the audience in his hands at every performance.

I have a signed photo of him above my desk at home.

What is the toughest decision you’ve ever had to make?

Leaving Aldermore for Pepper, having spent seven years establishing the lender.

But I have never looked back. Pepper excites me more than any other lender I’ve worked at as we are able to provide interesting solutions to such a wide customer base.

If you were chancellor for a day, what would you do?

I would launch an investigation into the impact of buy-to-let tax changes on the private rental market. More than 4.5 million people rely on privately rented accommodation in England alone.

I can understand the political pressure to control the growth of the buy-to-let market, but if landlords leave the market, the balance will shift towards tenant demand greatly outweighing the supply of property and it will ultimately be the tenants who suffer.

Company profile

Year established: June 2015 (in the UK)

Headcount: 330

Address: Harman House, 1 George Street, Uxbridge, London UB8 1QQ

Tel: 03333 701 101

Pepper Money is part of the Pepper Group and offers a range of residential and buy-to-let mortgages to borrowers who experience difficulties obtaining a mortgage from a high-street lender.


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