02 October, 2014
2014 marks Blemain’s 40th anniversary. Loan Introducer speaks to its director Gary Bailey about how the business and the secured loan market have changed over the last 40 years.
Q, Did you do anything to celebrate your 40th anniversary?
Yes – we celebrated at an event in Manchester with 180 guests including brokers, intermediaries and industry professionals. It was great to celebrate with our partners. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve the success we’ve embraced over the past 40 years.
Q, Do any of the original staff from 40 years ago still work at the firm?
Many of our staff have been with the business for decades – I’ve been here for more than 17 years and many others have achieved long service awards for reaching five, ten and 25 years’ service. Adrian Grant, a director in our team has been with Blemain Group for 35 years.
Q, How do you think today’s market differs from the one 40 years ago?
Regulation and competition in the market are very different. The recession led many competitors to cease trading or be swallowed up by bigger corporate entities. There are now however a wider selection of alternative lenders in the marketplace, giving consumers access to a broader range of finance solutions.
Automated credit scores (rather than an individual assessment of the merits of the case as Blemain Group still conducts) are particularly prevalent in today’s market and the risk appetite of many providers has reduced radically.
The availability of information through such things as the Land Registry and credit searches means we have more information at our fingertips than ever before. This has had a huge impact on building a picture of the customer’s credit worthiness, affordability and sustainability. There is now a broader availability of funds to customers who may not have a perfect credit history.
Technology has come a long way in the past 40 years. The automation of sourcing, teamed with the improvement of underwriting procedures has meant that processes are now more streamlined and effective There has also been a big change in consumer choice when selecting a lender – specialist lenders are coming into their own and high-street banks are no longer seen as the only option when seeking finance. As a result, product innovation, marketing and advertising have never been more important.
Q, In terms of your lending and business, how has that evolved over the last 40 years?
We have expanded our lending into other specialist areas so we now offer secured loans, mortgages, commercial term loans and bridging finance. We have evolved our product offering to suit specific niche market sectors and adapted models to suit changing market conditions. One thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that we always maintain a common sense lending approach.
Q, Do you expect to be lending in another 40 years?
Yes, definitely. We’re one of only a handful of lenders who made it through the recession. We have survived some major historic events and have adapted our model to meet whatever conditions are presented. We will continue to do this, whatever the future holds.
Q, How do you feel firms in the seconds market have adapted to the new regulatory regime?
Regulation is constantly evolving and brokers are committed to the requirements and are continually reassessing their approach, process procedures and how to put the customer at the centre of the business. More regulation is coming and everyone will need to be mindful and focussed on the impact this will have for them as an individual and as part of the industry.
Q, What do you think still needs to be done to promote the benefits of second charges?
There needs to be more consideration and comparisons between mortgages and secured loans, before a remortgage is offered.
Q, If you could have one wish for the second charge industry what would it be?
It would be to consider a secured loan in all instances where a remortgage is being considered. Many savvy brokers recognise the benefits of secured loans in the right circumstances but the whole of the intermediary market should have secured loans as part of their product portfolio. There is still education required for many.
The EU Mortgage Credit Directive will have a fundamental effect on how secured loans are considered and mortgage brokers need to recognise this now to ensure their customers’ needs are satisfied.