Bluestone Mortgages, the long awaited Australian-backed specialist lender, soft launched yesterday with networks Tenet and Legal & General, utilising 17 adviser firms to get its proposition off the ground.
Matt Andrews, chief executive, is spearheading the launch and comes with a strong background having previously run the direct to consumer lending operation for Mortgages PLC under Merrill Lynch before which he was group sales director at Kensington.
Bluestone Mortgages is backed by Lloyds Development Capital and Australian-based Macquarie Bank – which is also providing the funding.
Andrews said: “This is just a soft launch as what it’s really about is getting it right – that’s the main thing.
“Intermediaries in the UK market are really strong at the moment and their regulatory robustness is a delight to see.
“Throughout our market research time and again we have come across a real and genuine set of intermediaries that are rigorous in their approach.”
Bluestone Mortgages – which prides itself on people and not taking credit scoring points – is targeting the self-employed, contractor and adverse sectors. Alongside Andrews, former Metro Bank head of underwriting Jason Finch sits as head of lending and Andrew Davies, a director of Portigon AG, MLRO and senior compliance officer of Basinghall Finance, is group risk and compliance director.
Operationally the group has £2.5bn total assets under management; has completed £3.5bn in originations in Australia; has 20 rated securitisations; has £0.45bn UK mortgages under management; operates in five countries and has over 270 employees – some 100 in Australia, around 100 in Sheffield, some 20 in Cambridge and similar numbers in London.
Andrews added: “The capital markets are strengthening. There is a vast improved quality in terms of the intermediary market and they are all hungry for a new product. Today, the regulatory environment is in tune with our inherent responsible lending approach.
“We are in a competitive environment but also one that is in need of stimulation that will benefit the consumer.
“In a nutshell, we are going to be an honest and transparent lender; a certain lender; a responsible lender and a specialist lender.
“We’re going to offer brokers 100% access to our underwriters; no credit score which will mean no ambiguity and offer affordable mortgage solutions that are clearly explained with no hidden charges and no catches. Basically, offering solutions to customers in unique situations – whether they are self-employed, contractors or have complex income or even some adverse credit. We’re here to help.
“Our first foray into the UK market is going to be small and controllable – we’re not going to be enormous.
“However, once we have spent the initial four to five months building up and testing the market our ambitions are big. We’re looking at lending £50m to £100m in the first 12 months. But it’s important that we can get the launch correct before we can run and get the proposition right.”