Cherry Mortgage & Finance Ltd

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Cherry Mortgage & Finance Ltd's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Cherry Mortgage & Finance Ltd is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Matthew Fleming-Duffy,
Ten years on from the credit crunch, and we must ask
ourselves whether or not we’re in a better place financially.
Globally, the financial system imploded on itself in 2007/08,
and many financial institutions were forced to close or seek
significant restructuring. Tougher mortgage regulation was long
overdue, but it does feel somehow as though this might have
gone too far. When it comes to the future, Matthew Fleming-
Duffy believes that here, in the UK, we have the creativity and
composure to embrace a raft of innovative solutions that will
facilitate the emergence of a free-flowing mortgage credit
market, and discusses Cherry Mortgage & Finance’s role therein.
As a small firm, we frequently find ourselves completely at the mercy of market whims,
consumer expectations and regulatory change. We have tried to upsize, ended up
downsizing and have had to personally take significant pay cuts to stay in business.
The cost of regulation, administration and general day-to-day business expenses have
had a significant impact on how we trade in the current mortgage marketplace.
A changed marketplace
The Mortgage Market Review, which was brought about by the Financial Conduct
Authority in 2014, the Mortgage Credit Directive, a set of EU regulations imposed
on the market in 2016, and the recommended underwriting standards for buy-to-
let mortgages issued by the Prudential Regulation Authority in 2017 have sought to
dampen the marketplace in order to prevent a future financial crisis.
As an aside, the MCD now plays into the hands of some of our European
neighbours – you will find German banks very reluctant to lend to you if you are
paid in sterling; they will cite MCD foreign currency rules as being the problem,
while having no issue if you were paid in US dollars, Hong Kong dollars or Swiss
francs. While these sets of rules, in principle, have brought about a positive
adjustment to our relationship with mortgage lending, I believe that some of these
rules are outdated, out of touch and are in significant need of an overhaul.
While the big five banks provide an essential supply of low-cost mortgages, they
can distort a consumer’s expectations when their circumstances don’t quite fit
the mould. I believe there are seven “mortgage sins”
that can present significant
problems if you are trying to borrow money, which can be seen in this article.
Affordability model concerns
I guess my biggest issue is with the way affordability models currently work. When I
started working in the mortgage industry, some 25 years ago, the income multiple
used by most lenders was three and a half times your annual salary. Following
intervention from the Bank of England, in 2014, the limit most lenders seem to have
»Director: Matthew Fleming-
»Founded in 2012
»Based in Bournemouth, Dorset
»No. of employees: 6
»Services: Small, specialist
independent mortgage
»Over £28 million in mortgage
applications processed in the
last 12 months
Cherry Mortgage &
Finance Ltd
adopted on income multiples is four
and a half times your annual salary –
representing an increase of 28 per cent.
Using house price data from Nationwide
Building Society, the average house
price in the first quarter of 1993 was
£50,218, whereas in the first quarter
of 2018 it stands at £211,792 – an
increase of over 420percent.
Something is wrong. Mortgage
lenders, quite rightly, request far more
information to assess a mortgage
application these days; their lending
practices, however, are heavily restricted
based on these figures. I am not
suggesting, in any way, that we revert to
a form of self-declaration of affordability
– a mortgage is, for most consumers,
the largest loan they will every take.
Many consumers feel inclined to
overstate their financial position to
obtain the result they want; I read, with
a profound sense of irony, that Lynda
Blackwell, the ex-FCA mortgage sector
manager, recently complained on Radio
4 that she was refused a mortgage
due to lack of income evidence. Her
own paper on responsible lending,
produced in 2010, effectively banned
self-certification mortgages where
income is notevidenced.
It is also worth noting that the rules
issued by the Bank of England allowed
lenders to provide mortgages based
on higher multiples of income for up
to 15 per cent of their new loans,
many of which appear to be exclusively
reserved for high net worth individuals.
What’s the solution?
So how should we assess affordability?
In my opinion, some lenders could
take more time to understand a
client’s personal circumstances and
requirements, perhaps taking their
current ability to pay rent and other
lifestyle costs into consideration.
Old-fashioned, manual underwriting
standards are upheld by many of the
smaller building societies, and this is
what is needed to allow better access
to mortgage funding. Access to larger
mortgage loans allows aspirational
consumers to purchase often first or
larger homes, provides confidence to
builders that they will be able to sell
new homes once they are built and
would generally seek to rebalance the
access to property finance. I want a
world that works for everyone, and
this would be a small step towards
achieving that.
I know that this may appear deeply
unfashionable. Many lenders,
particularly new companies on the
mortgage scene, have adopted the
adverse-credit risk-pricing matrix and
appear to be in a race to the bottom
with regard to mortgage deal pricing
for individuals with a poor track
record of paying debts. Innovative
lending practices have been stifled
by the affordability conundrum, and
we must look harder for an effective,
How, then, do we manage the
assessment of mortgage affordability,
process applications efficiently and
temper the sometimes-rampant
growth in property prices? In essence,
relaxing the regulatory approach to
affordability and allowing lenders more
freedom to choose how they conduct
these assessments should go hand in
hand with more automated processing
techniques, such as the adoption of
open-banking technologies, which
appear to be slow on the uptake,
and a new licensing regime for
Establishing closer formal links
between agents and surveyors,
while ensuring all agency staff are
adequately trained and holding them
accountable for bad practice, can only
seek to stabilise and restore confidence
in our property market. Regulating
property advisors works effectively in
New Zealand, and we could adopt
similar practices here in the UK.
A strategy for future
stability of home
My biggest
issue is with
the way
currently work
»Proving affordability
»Interest-only lending
»Complex income, including
self-employed applicants
»Older borrowers
»Unusual properties (such
as houses with an annexe
or apartments in high-rise
»Buy-to-let (particularly if you
are a first time-buyer or have
four or more mortgaged
»Adverse credit

This article was sponsored by Cherry Mortgage & Finance Ltd. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister