Stonebridge, the national mortgage and insurance network, has announced continued strong mortgage application and completion growth throughout 2022 at its recent National Conference, plus record levels of adviser growth.
At the conference, held at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole on the 27thFebruary, Stonebridge’s Business Partnership Director, Jo Carrasco, revealed its network sales results, which during 2022 saw mortgage application numbers up by 9% on 2021, and the volume of lending up by 10%.
48% of applications were for purchases, down from 57% in 2021, with 15% of applications being buy-to-let – the same as the year previously.
In terms of mortgage completions, 2022 saw Stonebridge’s volume of lending up 19% on 2021. Across the year, lending volume increased in 10 out of 12 months, with total lending hitting a record £12.6bn.
Stonebridge also said 2022 was another good year for other core parts of its business – protection and general insurance (GI).
In the protection sector, application value in commission terms was up on 2021. For GI, the growth was 15% up on the previous year.
The conference, designed to support Stonebridge Appointed Representative (AR) firms, was the largest in the network’s history, with over 500 attendees – many for their first conference.
With a message of, ‘Growing success through shared expertise’, a range of sessions showcased the support available to advisers within the network, in terms of both business opportunities but also business standards, regulatory adherence, technology, and how Stonebridge is working with its various lender and provider partners.
Stonebridge also announced continued growth in its adviser numbers, and now has well over 1,000 advisers across the network.
The network said its continued growth had allowed it to increase staffing levels, particularly in its operational teams and its Business Development team who are able to offer tailored support to AR firms.
It had also bolstered its Business Standards team and said it would work with firms to ensure they continue to meet their responsibilities under the new Consumer Duty rules, and there would be a series of further significant enhancements to Revolution, its wholly-owned trading platform.
Following the conference, Stonebridge held its annual dinner and award ceremony rewarding a range of AR firms for excellence in 2022, with special guest, TV personality, Rob Beckett.
Rob Clifford, Chief Executive of Stonebridge, commented: “2022 was undoubtedly a roller-coaster of a year, and the housing and mortgage markets were particularly impacted by the ‘Mini Budget’ and its subsequent fallout towards the end of an otherwise record-breaking year for us.
“That said, we were able to deliver continued growth across our three core areas of business – mortgages, protection, and GI – in 2022, and this is down to the excellent work of our AR firms and their advisers, who came into their own particularly post-‘Mini Budget’ when there was a considerable amount of uncertainty and some degree of panic amongst borrowers.
“Looking ahead, 2023 is also likely to be a slightly more challenging year with some headwinds to overcome, but there is also a range of opportunities to take advantage of, particularly in both the remortgage and product transfer space, and specifically in terms of ensuring clients have the protection cover they need in what remains a difficult economy.
“We maintain extremely strong growth ambitions for Stonebridge, and while some firms might well shrink their adviser numbers, we continue to follow a strategy that is focused on both recruitment and helping our existing firms add to their headcount with our high-quality support structures.
“This is because we know successful networks need both scale and capital, and by growing the number of AR firms and advisers within Stonebridge, it means we can continue to bring on board the support and resource that can allow firms to not just make the most of those opportunities, but to do so with clarity and certainty in terms of both business standards and regulatory compliance.
“Our growth also allows us to keep investing in Revolution, a huge part of the network’s success and whose development is delivering real and tangible benefits for firms, their processes, and customer outcomes.
“The National Conference focused on how we can continue to help our AR firms prosper, how we can empower their success through the Stonebridge proposition, and how we deliver an environment that is safe and secure for them to thrive within.
“Despite all its challenges, 2022 was still a major growth year for Stonebridge and with our deep-seated commitment to this sector and to all our AR firms, we intend to continue this strategy throughout 2023.”