Hear from Paul Fenn, Head of Business Development as he reflects back on 2021 and gives us his predictions for 2022 and beyond, plus Skipton's ambitions for the future.

Looking ahead to 2022, but first...

2021 marked 33 years for me in the mortgage industry and I think I’d be hard pushed to recall another one so unusual. Some words to describe it might be – confusing; refreshing; frustrating; contradicting; but on the whole upbeat. But some of us did get back to doing some normal stuff, working in the office, meeting people, fancy dinners and attending events. I managed to get my flip flops out and spend a couple of long weekends in the sun. But enough about that.

Here are some of my reflections on 2021 and predictions for 2022.

A look back at 2021

The stamp duty deadlines increased lending to record levels. If you were an adviser, you were probably very busy over those periods. If you were a lender, you probably hit record-breaking volumes too. Interest rates were at their lowest ever. Some lenders changed Loan to Incomes to help first-time buyers. House prices increased again and again, and BDMs got back out on the road (I’m pretty chuffed about that one).

Data from UK Finance shows that the intermediary market also grew to over 80% of the mortgage market. If you look back over the last five to seven years, we’ve seen an average 13% increase in market share for intermediaries, which is a significant testament to the value of advice.

So what’s on the cards for 2022?

Talking of the value of advice, I personally believe it’s never been more important for people to get it. If you think about it, you can get lots of mortgage information at your fingertips in seconds, but it might not always be clear or easy to understand. By seeking advice, the client receives information and an expert opinion from a qualified adviser.

Add to the mix Covid, first-time buyers, house price increases, interest rates, Help to Buy, Joint Borrower, Sole Proprietor and your head spins. So, for anyone who’s looking for a mortgage, there’s only one answer in my view, and that’s to get advice.

Interest, affordability and house prices

In November, the market was forecasting the bank base rate to be up to 1.25% by the end of 2022. The big question is – will it get that high? We’re reading reports about increases in inflation which might suggest an early increase. But what happens if we see the unwinding of quantitative easing increasing the cost of borrowing for banks and building societies? This might increase mortgage borrowing rates without us seeing as many base rate increases.

Combine increases in inflation with a 3.6% increase in average earnings compared to last year; and unemployment running significantly lower than some had expected. This all points towards a more affluent consumer base.

Many are forecasting a continued increase in house prices throughout 2022, as well. Some market data suggests around 3%; although that could vary significantly from lower increases in London and greater increases in other areas of the UK.

Remortgage and product transfers

We know there are significant balances coming to the end of their terms in 2022. So how will the product transfer market play out? Lenders will no doubt be as keen as brokers to speak to borrowers whose terms are coming to an end - so knowing your client base is really important. How frequently do brokers check in with their clients? If the last advice you gave them was two, three or five years ago and you’re waiting that long to speak to them again - how strong is that relationship?

Income, affordability, family, employment and protection needs don’t usually match the ‘term cycle’ of their mortgage and they can all change over time. So, if you’re not talking to them every year to see how things are, why not?

Sustainability and green lending

This one’s here to stay and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. For me it starts with the consumer wanting to take responsibility for the environment in which they live and work. If we can get more people to become more accountable and concerned, then we will start to see more interest in how we, as an industry, can support greener home ownership. Whether it’s retro fitting an existing property or purchasing a new one.

We cannot allow a ‘two-tier’ market to develop with those who can afford to be ‘greener’ benefitting from better products and rates whilst those who can’t, ending up with more expensive options.

I think it’ll take us all to be better joined up with house purchase, advice, lending and supply of ‘greener materials’ to enable a seamless value chain to be created and for the consumer to get what they need.

As I said from a sustainability perspective, I don’t think it starts with the lender, the broker, the industry or communities – it starts with the individual. They have to accept and want to become responsible for their contribution to the green effort, and I think it’ll take time to build momentum in that area.

D&I

Many of us will have seen some of the recent insight into the distance we need to travel in our industry. Make no mistake there are serious cultural, societal, and commercial sanctions for not upping the pace and ‘leaning in’ to Diversity and Inclusion challenges. Those of us who have been around for some time have a clear obligation to make ourselves and those around us more accountable. If we don’t lead the way who will?

Ambitions for the future

At Skipton we’re in growth mode right now. We’re increasing our BDM team (field and telephone) and continuing with our aspiration to become a top 10 lender. We’ve also created a new role designed to make sure criteria and policy change is up to date, accurate and more dynamic as we exit the world of Covid.

We’ve invested a lot in tech over the last two or three years, too. Automated valuations, automated ID and electronic income verification to name but a few. And we’ll continue to invest and improve in our technology, so it helps to streamline what we need from the adviser, whilst complementing our BDM relationships too.

And there you have it. My reflections and thoughts. You can also watch the webinar version of this article, looking ahead to 2022. While you’re at it, why not take a look at some of the other webinars and articles on the Skipton Talks hub?