Just Mortgages appoints new head of mortgages and protection

Leading broker firm, Just Mortgages has appointed Ben Allkins as the new head of mortgages and protection for its self-employed division.

The newly created role will involve managing the strategic direction of the self-employed division, helping improve the efficiency of the team, and supporting Just Mortgages’ brokers to deliver exceptional advice.

With over two decades of experience in the mortgage market, Allkins has been working as part of the Just Mortgages’ team for the past five years, initially as an area director, then a regional director.

In the next year alone, Just Mortgages is investing over £1m into upgrading the support and systems that the self-employed team uses. Allkins role will be to oversee this investment to ensure it delivers the maximum positive impact for brokers.

The appointment of the new head of mortgages and protections is part of ambitious growth plans for the Just Mortgages self-employed division. After launching in June 2016 with just three brokers, five years later, the team is now close to 400.

With both first-hand experience of being a broker and hands-on experience managing the Just Mortgages’ self-employed team, Allkins mix of industry knowledge and people skills make him ideal for the role.

He added: “The self-employed division only succeeds if our brokers are successful, so my role is to ensure we invest in areas that make tangible differences for our team.

“While the self-employed team at Just Mortgages already receives industry-leading support, we will look at all the pinch points where we can improve and make changes to make our brokers lives easier.

“We will certainly continue to grow in the next few years, but one of our key aims is to make sure our team is working as efficiently as possible.

“From admin support to developing state of the art CRM systems, we work closely with our brokers to help them maximise their time advising clients.”

Reliance Bank joins Paradigm lender panel

Paradigm Mortgage Services, the mortgage services proposition, has today added Reliance Bank to its lender panel.

From today, Paradigm member firms will have access to Reliance Bank’s full product range including the banks full Shared Ownership and Key Worker Mortgage products.

Founded in 1890 by The Salvation Army, Reliance Bank has been at the forefront of socially responsible banking through business lending to churches, charities and other sectors which provide positive social impact in the UK.

Lending across England and Wales, the bank offers a full range of simple and flexible mortgages for first-time buyers, homemovers and customers who want to remortgage. In addition, it also offers Key Worker and Shared Ownership mortgages.

Richard Howes, Director of Mortgages at Paradigm Mortgage Services, commented: “Over the course of the past few months Paradigm Mortgage Services has announced a number of new lender relationships with innovative operators in the market and we are very pleased to continue this with the appointment of Reliance Bank to our lender panel. We know our adviser members respond to creativity and flexibility and we believe Reliance Bank fulfil this particularly in the Key Worker and Shared Ownership space. We’re looking forward to working with the Reliance Bank team and would urge our member firms to have a look at its proposition in general and criteria.”

Gareth Byrne, Head of Mortgages at Reliance Bank, said: “I am delighted to partner up with Paradigm Mortgage Services; we see this as another important step in the Bank’s journey to help mortgage advisers find our products and services, and be able to provide a solution to their clients’ needs and requirements. More and more people are looking to borrow money in a socially responsible way. That’s exactly what your clients can expect with Reliance Bank.”

Comment on BNPL consultation

Following the announcement of the Government’s BNPL consultation today, Jayadeep Nair, Chief Product and Marketing Officer at Equifax UK said: “In just a couple of years we’ve seen Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) go from being a niche payment option used by just a handful of early adopters, to become a major feature of the UK credit market. It’s not often that such a habit-shifting innovation comes along in the world of finance, so this is an incredibly exciting time for the sector, and a change that the Treasury is rightly determined to get right.

“At Equifax, we welcome the Treasury’s consultation, and are supportive of the drive to make the UK the world’s first major market to regulate BNPL in this way. Given the anticipated growth in this newer form of credit, we believe it is important that we as an industry evolve and adapt in a positive way to ensure that consumers are well informed and protected, and that the emerging data and insights are used to fuel the next generation of fintech innovations.

“BNPL differs from many traditional lending products, but it is no less fundamental that consumer data and borrowing behaviour is reflected in credit files. As one of the UK’s leading credit reference agencies (CRAs), we know that the more insights lenders have available, the more confidently and accurately they can undertake affordability assessments, lend with confidence, and ensure fair outcomes for consumers.

“Equifax is already working with a number of fintechs and BNPL providers to help them prepare for the expected changes while maintaining the features that make their products so popular. Confidence in the credit system is fundamental to the UK’s economic recovery and we are committed to working with the Government, the FCA, BNPL providers and consumer groups to make sure that when the change happens, consumers are fully aware of the implications of BNPL products on their credit standing.”

StepChange reaction to HM Treasury BNPL consultation

StepChange Debt Charity is pleased to see that today’s consultation paper issued by HM Treasury on how to regulate the Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) market picks up on all the most important elements that can cause consumer detriment.

The consultation recognises that the “frictionless” process so valued by retailers to achieve smoother sales and increased volumes can be a driver of harm for some consumers, and makes pre-contractual disclosure and ongoing consumer protection so important.

StepChange argued these points to the FCA’s Woolard Review last year. That review resulted in the FCA’s recommendation, and the Government’s agreement, to regulate BNPL. Today’s consultation marks a watershed in the recognition that BNPL is credit, with implications for the need for adequate consumer protection against harm, matching existing Consumer Credit Act and Financial Conduct Authority protections.

While the precise scope and nature of protection is under consultation, the fact that this important principle will underpin the future of the BNPL market should help to offset the risk of unnecessary additional debt problems that could arise from the rapid acceleration of the BNPL market.

Peter Tutton, StepChange Head of Policy, Research and Public Affairs, said: “We look forward to contributing our formal response to the consultation, but already we can see that the Government is taking seriously its promise to regulate the BNPL market, and recognise that BNPL is credit, which has the potential to cause harm without adequate consumer protections.

“Where there are some important choices to be made – such as how widely the definition of BNPL should be drawn, and what the regulatory position of retailers should be – we would like to see the protection of consumers being the first and guiding principle of the final framework. We hope the introduction of regulation can be implemented at pace, given the rapid rise of BNPL.”

Paysafe extends partnership with ZEN.COM to bridge the gap between cash and digital banking

Leading integrated payments platform, Paysafe (NYSE: PSFE), today announces that it has extended its partnership with payments provider ZEN.COM. Paysafe’s eCash solution, Paysafecash, can now be used by individual customers as well as business clients across 25 countries in Europe to make fast and secure cash deposits into ZEN.COM’s virtual wallets.

After selecting Paysafecash as the top up method in the ZEN.COM mobile app, the customer chooses how much cash to deposit into their account and generates a unique barcode for the transaction. The barcode doesn’t have to be used straight away – the customer has 72 hours to proceed further. Within this time, customer can go to a nearby payment point, scan the barcode at the point of sale terminal and make the payment in cash. The deposited amount will be credited to ZEN.COM’s virtual wallet within minutes. The wallet can manage accounts in 30 currencies and can be used for currency exchange and as a payment card. What’s more, thanks to an integrated IBAN number, the wallet complements the traditional bank account and enables money transfers.

ZEN.COM’s integration of Paysafecash provides a highly sought-after cash loading option for digital banking customers in the following 25 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

Today’s announcement is the latest development in an ongoing collaboration between the two companies. ZEN.COM’s business clients already have the option of accepting payments via Paysafe’s leading prepaid solution paysafecard and digital wallet Skrill. Furthermore, paysafecard has been enabled for wallet loading and there are also plans for further integrations of Paysafe’s payments solutions.

Michał Bogusławski, Commercial Director of ZEN.COM commented, “The financial services industry and the consumer needs within it are changing on a daily basis. However, the general trends give us a clear indication that consumers are looking for simplicity in addition to security. In order to fulfil these needs, innovation and cooperation between industry players is key. At ZEN.COM, we strive to cater to both businesses and customers by providing them with an all-in-one solution. Our cooperation with Paysafe, our valued partner over many years, benefits multiple audiences by allowing us to provide merchants with a wider variety of payment methods and enable customers to use their preferred payment method. As an agile and trustworthy partner, Paysafe is a pleasure to work with.”

Udo Müller, CEO of Paysafe’s eCash division, which encompasses paysafecard and Paysafecash, added: “I’m excited about extending our partnership with ZEN.COM to provide a cash-based deposit functionality with Paysafecash. Our eCash network is extremely well established and continually expanding, making this a very convenient and accessible wallet-loading option for ZEN.COM’s cash-based customers, especially as cash remains a cornerstone of the payment landscape in many of these countries.”

Dudley Building Society becomes latest lender to join Paradigm lender panel

Paradigm Mortgage Services, the mortgage services proposition, has today added Dudley Building Society to its lender panel.

Dudley Building Society lends throughout England and Wales and is committed to servicing underserved markets without regional loan-to-value restrictions. The Society specialises in cases which require a manual underwriting/common sense approach.

From today, Paradigm members will secure access to the full range of Dudley’s mortgage products covering options for first-time buyers, first-time landlords, expats, self-builders, right to buy, shared ownership as well as lending in, and into, retirement based on how borrowers’ recent credit conduct fits within its policy as opposed to looking at their credit score.

Dudley Building Society will accept up to four applicants and accepts a variety of incomes including from sources such as rental properties, benefits, investments, pensions, trust income, overtime, bonus and commission and a number of others.

The Society also accepts Joint Borrower/Sole Proprietor and Guarantor applications, as well as gifted deposit/equity; 95% LTV mortgages up to £350k are also available.

Richard Howes, Director of Mortgages at Paradigm Mortgage Services, commented: “Certain lenders get the fact that there is a whole world of mortgage need beyond vanilla residential and they have tailored their propositions accordingly to deal with all manner of different borrower needs and circumstances. As can be seen from the options available and its individual approach to underwriting, Dudley Building Society is one of those lenders leading the field in this regard, and we are very pleased to be adding it to our panel and offering our member firms access to this innovative lender. We’re looking forward to working with the team at the Dudley to ensure advisers are aware of its product proposition and how it can help the growing number of client who have requirements and circumstances not covered by the mainstream.”

James Green, Business Development Manager at Dudley Building Society, said: “I am thrilled to begin a partnership which will enable Paradigm members to gain access to our products and join us on our journey to serve underserved markets. Specialist lenders have an important part to play in powering lives and we believe our proposition puts us at the forefront of that. Through a shared passion for excellent service and a personal approach I believe that this will be a strong relationship for years to come.”

SDLT Compass joins Conveyancing Association as Affiliate member

The Conveyancing Association (CA), the leading trade body for the conveyancing industry, has today announced the appointment of new Affiliate member, SDLT Compass.

SDLT Compass is a bespoke software solution which produces up-to-date Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) calculations for conveyancing firms and mitigates against errors being made.

Built in conjunction with tax advisers and conveyancers, SDLT Compass is designed to fit into a firm’s workflow, is able to be integrated into any case management system and is intuitive to use.

The software is updated constantly to reflect the latest changes in SDLT legislation, allowing SDLT Compass to provide accurate and up-to-date SDLT figures for any transaction. It will also refer the firm and the client to a dedicated SDLT specialist for further advice in particularly complex or unclear situations.

SDLT Compass offers a number of benefits including:

  1. It is a one-stop application helping firms to ensure that SDLT is calculated correctly for each of their clients first time and providing them with an audit trail to prove it.
  2. It produces an accurate SDLT calculation for clients regardless of their circumstances or the type of property being purchased.
  3. It ensures firms comply with Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) and PI insurers’ requirements.
  4. It ensures firms avoid underestimated or overestimated SDLT claims against them.
  5. It offers a free no-strings 14-day trial.
  6. It costs £50 plus VAT per audit for a standard case and provides the option to refer complex cases to a SDLT tax analyst team of specialists.

Chris Ward, Managing Director of SDLT Compass will be joining the Conveyancing Association’s Legal Members Meeting on 21st October 2021 to participate in a ‘SDLT Pitfalls and Solutions’ session.

Chris will present Conveyancing Association members with the benefits of using SDLT Compass, participating in a Q&A session and will be joined by Edward Donne of Howden, to discuss SDLT issues, claims and how they can be avoided.

Nicky Heathcote, Non-Executive Chair of The Conveyancing Association, said: “We are very pleased to welcome SDLT Compass as the newest Affiliate member of the Association and are looking forward to Chris and his team taking a full part in our events, starting with our next Legal Members’ Meeting. Stamp duty calculation is an important part of the purchase process to get right and I’m sure our members will be interested to hear about the SDLT Compass proposition and what it is able to offer their firms.”

Lloyd Davies steps down from Conveyancing Association Operations Director role

The Conveyancing Association (CA), the leading trade body for the conveyancing industry, has today announced Lloyd Davies has decided to retire from his position of Operations Director and will not be standing as a Director at the upcoming CA AGM on the 21st October.

Lloyd took up the role of Operations Director in 2015 and has helped to establish the CA as the leading voice for conveyancing legal practices in the country. Lloyd has played a key role over the years in helping the CA provide leadership and best practice guidance for its membership as well as in helping to guide CA strategy and policy, along with fellow Policy and Strategy Board members.

Since his appointment as Operations Director the number of CA legal member practices has increased by 50%, with affiliate membership growth of over 100%, helping create a vibrant forum to advance the needs of the conveyancing community and to deliver tangible solutions to improve the home buying and selling process.

Lloyd is retiring from his voluntary role with the CA to concentrate on his personal, business and charity commitments. Lloyd is the founder and Managing Director of Convey Law and the Conveyancing Academy and the Chairman of the Conveyancing Foundation – which has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity since inception and introduced the ‘Be Kind We Care’ initiative to help safeguard mental health wellbeing and professional behaviour in the industry this year.

Nicky Heathcote, Non-Executive Chair of The Conveyancing Association, said: “We would like to thank Lloyd for everything he has done for the CA and the wider conveyancing industry since he took up the voluntary role of Operations Director six years ago. Everyone involved in the CA will be sad to see him stepping back from the Association, as he has been one of the driving forces behind its success in recent times. Lloyd has been pivotal in the growth of the CA, not just in terms of increasing our membership base, both legal practice members and affiliates, but also with regards to the high esteem the Association is now held in and the influence it holds.

“His work in a practical leadership role when helping CA members through the pandemic in 2020 was inspirational and very important for our membership during a time of real crisis. We wish Lloyd all the best for the future and we very much look forward to continuing our excellent partnership with the Conveyancing Academy and Charity Foundation. I am sure Lloyd will continue to play a major role within the UK conveyancing community. Thank you Lloyd for your hard work and endeavours on behalf of everyone at the Conveyancing Association.”

Lloyd Davies commented: “After six years as Operations Director of the CA the time is right for me to move on and I hope I have done everything possible to ensure the future success of the CA and its great work for the conveyancing community.

“My family is of paramount importance to me and always has been. After the passing of my son Maxwell three years ago the charity that we have established in his name – the Mindstep Foundation – continues to go from strength to strength. Coupled with the Conveyancing Foundation Charity Lotto and ‘Be Kind We Care’ initiatives my time has been stretched in recent years and so I felt that the time was right to stand down from my voluntary Directorial role with the CA.

“Our training company, the Conveyancing Academy, as well as our Convey365 IT case management companies are now in full swing and so I also didn’t want to compromise my Directorship whilst promoting the wonderful conveyancing products we have to offer over the coming years.

“It has been a real privilege for Convey Law to have pioneered with the CA with the first electronic exchange of contracts is 2015, the first use of the Code for Completion with Attwells Solicitors in 2017 and the first to integrate with the Passport Office to facilitate our ID functionality in 2020. I look forward to more firsts in the industry as we all work together to facilitate our digital conveyancing future.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the CA and Convey Law will remain proud and active legal members. Sharing best practice and learning from other like-minded conveyancing leaders has been quite brilliant. Working with both legal members and affiliates, who have become business colleagues and friends, has been wonderful and I would like to thank everyone for their friendship and willingness to innovate together over so many years.

“I would like to say a special thanks to my daughter Georgia, Jess Smith and Nicola Lancaster for their professionalism and incredible dedication over so many years as CA Secretariat. I hope that we have helped to bring everyone together and we have certainly enjoyed some fantastic CA events and Conferences. Times together at the Houses of Parliament and Lords Cricket ground were wonderful and to be locked in the Tower of London by a Beefeater as a part of the ‘Ceremony of Keys’ whilst listening to Tom Jones and drinking wine with my CA pals was something to behold. We are very privileged to have played a small part in helping to ensure the continued future success of the Conveyancing Association.

“We all still have a lot of work to do in ‘changing the way that we convey’ over the coming years and my team and I look forward to working with everyone in the conveyancing industry to help define best practice solutions to make the digital future of conveyancing a reality for us all.

“Thank you all for your continued friendship and camaraderie and I very much look forward to catching up with you all at the CA Conference and Charity Dinner on the 2nd December.”

Foundation Home Loans launch new fixed-rate ‘Green ABC+’ mortgages for landlords and owner-occupiers

Foundation Home Loans, the intermediary-only specialist lender, has today launched ‘Green ABC+’ fixed-rate products for both buy-to-let and owner-occupied mortgages, with rates and cashback based on the property’s energy performance rating.

For buy-to-let landlord borrowers purchasing or remortgaging, Foundation is offering a set of five-year fixed-rate options, starting at 3.14%, available up to 75% LTV with a reduced product fee of 0.5% and a cashback reward between £250 and £750, dependent on the EPC rating of the property.

Foundation will allow early remortgaging on these buy-to-let products and they are available to individual and limited companies, and portfolio and non-portfolio landlords.

For owner-occupier borrowers buying or remortgaging, Foundation offer a range of two-year fixed-rate options available with a product fee of £595, and options up to both 75% and 85% LTV.

Rates start at 3.04% fixed for two years and again, the products come with cashback upon completion between £250 and £750 dependent on the EPC rating of the property. These owner-occupier products are available on a capital and interest-only basis.

Foundation said the products were aimed at those borrowers seeking to purchase more energy-efficient homes and were also designed to incentivise borrowers to improve the EPC ratings of their properties.

George Gee, Commercial Director at Foundation Home Loans, said: “We want to encourage and reward those homeowners and investors who make the conscious choice to buy energy-efficient properties, or improve those which they currently own.

“Energy efficiency amongst UK housing stock is only likely to become more central to the Government’s green agenda. As one of the first specialist lenders to enter the ‘Green’ mortgage market, we remain committed to innovating ‘Green’ product options for both landlords and owner-occupier borrowers. This new range offers cashback to help to meet the costs of maintaining energy-efficient properties, whilst still retaining highly-competitive rates and reduced product fees.

“Although the Government regulations currently only affect properties in the private rental sector, our research shows there is a growing demand for ‘Green’ mortgage products amongst owner-occupiers too, and increasing demand from both groups for environmentally-friendly housing stock.”

Detached property rent rises outstripped national average increase during Q3 2021, according to The DPS

Rents on detached homes increased twice as fast as the average for all UK properties during Q3 2021, according to The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS).

The UK’s largest protector of deposits said that average rents for detached properties during Q3 2021 rose £38 (3.52%) from £1,079 to £1,117, with rents on detached London properties rising £93 (5.27%) from £1,764 to £1,857 and rents on detached West Midlands properties rising £59 (6.38%) from £925 to £984.

By comparison, the organisation said that average UK rent increased by £14 (1.74%) from £804 to £818 during Q3 2021.

The DPS’ quarterly Rent Index also highlighted that the number of deposits registered for detached properties fell 17% between Q3 2020 and Q3 2021 and that rents on detached homes grew by £91 (8.87%) during the same period.

Rents for all categories of property rose during Q3 2021 and were all higher than during the same period last year (Q3 2020), said the organisation.

Matt Trevett, Managing Director at The DPS, said: “Despite the roll-out of the coronavirus vaccination programme and the lifting of lockdowns, it seems that tenants are still prioritising more living space and are willing to pay for it.

“They are also staying in detached homes for longer and this, combined with lower availability of these properties, is driving up rents.

“The last quarter’s rent increases across all property types and most regions suggests a strong return of demand from tenants as employees start to go back into offices and students attend University in person this academic year.”

Paul Fryers, Managing Director at specialist buy-to-let Lender Zephyr Homeloans, said: “Evidence of strong tenant demand, particularly for detached homes during the last quarter, will help provide further valuable insight for landlords considering whether to invest in property this year.

“It is important that landlords wishing to purchase property take into account their own specific financial situation as well as current market conditions.”

The West Midlands experienced the highest rent increase during Q3 2021, growing 4.03% (£26) to £671, said the organisation.

The North East, still the cheapest region to rent a property, saw the second highest increase (3.58%) during Q3 2021, rising £19 from £530 to £549.

Rents in the South West saw one of the largest annual increases of £53 (6.96%), from £762 to £815, between Q3 2020 and Q3 2021.

Rents for all property types in the East of England rose 7.48% (£61) to £876 between Q3 2020 and Q3 2021, said the organisation, with average rents for detached homes rising £67 (5.63%), from £1,191 to £1,258, during the period.

Wales, the only region where overall rents fell during Q3 2021, saw a decrease of £5 (-0.80%) to £621.

The DPS said London rents grew on average 1.90% (£25) during Q3 2021 to £1,339, erasing falls during previous quarters.

Deposits protected for London properties during Q3 2021 rose by 17% compared with Q3 2020 and by more than 30% between April and September 2021 compared with the same period in 2020 – suggesting a return in demand for city living, and, potentially, rental growth, said the organisation.