tony's blog

Friday, December 3, 2010

What now for first-time buyers?

In issue 23 of News and Views published by the CML it was suggested that the contraction in UK mortgage lending since 2007 has been the most severe on record. Furthermore, between 2007 and 2010, as many as 800,000 potential first-time buyers had been effectively frozen out of the market. Lending criteria has tightened significantly for the first time buyer with the average LTV for this group of borrowers falling from 90% to 75%.This trend seems set to continue with the major lenders choosing to concentrate on less risk adverse borrowers who have greater equity in their property.

Meanwhile, rents are continuing to be pushed up as more people turn to renting a home instead of buying one. RICS said that demand from would-be renters was rising while the supply of new homes to let was falling.

So what is to become of this disenfranchised group? Are they doomed to languish in their parents’ homes until conditions improve? Is getting the deposit they so desperately need now a matter of long-term saving or pleading for handouts from kindly relatives?

It seems to me that more needs to be done to help this group of borrowers. Traditionally their role in establishing a healthy mortgage market is crucial so they shouldn’t be ignored. If lenders are doing their job and assessing affordability on an individual basis then surely some tranche of their lending allocation can be provided specifically for first time buyers. Then again, market share is no longer the problem so why should they want to do this without incentive?

Maybe the market needs to think again.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Irish blogging - we're all doomed!

So what is the true state of affairs with Ireland? A week ago we were being assured that they had no need of European support and here we are now with a near certainty of a €90bn bail-out. So what’s changed?

Well I guess nothing except that a week ago the Irish Government were still trying to avoid European help at a country level and were trying instead to point the bail-out directly towards the banks. That way they would have been angling to avoid European interference with fiscal and political policy. But now this looks to be in jeopardy.

The Irish have fought so hard over the years to gain independence and with the lure of wealth and phenomenal economic growth; Ireland just took what was available from Europe and got behind the roaring success that became known as the ‘Celtic Tiger’. Who can blame them? So much did this extend to their thinking about the future that even when the Euro was suggested they didn’t hesitate – they were happy to join the band of successful European brothers which left the UK outside and looking a little isolated.

I suppose I’ve always had reservations about the Euro. How can you have monetary union if you don’t at some point also have control over fiscal and political policy on a centralised basis? What about the ‘one-size fits all’ monetary policy that would treat France and Germany the same way as much smaller and more fragile, less developed economies – which it now turns out includes Ireland? Well I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

So will there be a bail-out of Ireland? I guess the answer is yes but I fear that until the European review has been completed we just won’t know if €90bn is enough. Are they hiding the true state of their situation and what if they need more? Once Ireland is sorted Spain and Portugal will likely need support and their economies are on a different scale entirely. Where will it stop?

I fear that we still have a long way to go in this but although the stock market has rallied on the back of Irish news this morning (but has since fallen back) I still feel profoundly uneasy. The future of the Euro is far from assured right now.

In the words of Private Frazer from Dad’s Army it feels like we are all doomed!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A concern for us all

On the face of it, the Bank of England presented a pretty positive growth outlook albeit inflation remaining above target for the next year. And I believe Mervyn King was right to talk about the fragility of the economy and how the world economy faces ‘difficult and dangerous’ times particularly if the G20 continue to focus on protectionist issues rather than Global concerns.

So far so in agreement.

Where I have major concerns is around Mr King’s comments on employment and how this will pan out in the near future. He states that he believes the private sector could provide enough extra jobs to offer to those made redundant. He says: ‘It is clearly feasible and not at all unreasonable to see a shift in employment between the public and private sector’.

Well I just can’t see this happening. Looking at the facts, we already have a record number of people forced into part time jobs (1.13m according to the latest figures from the ONS). Added to this statistic is the rise in the long term unemployed to its highest level for 13 years. If this is what the situation is like now, you have to ask yourself how things are going to be when the austerity measures kick in and the real hurt begins.  Research by PWC suggests that spending cuts will trigger a wave of redundancies in public sector organisations and the private sector businesses that relied on contracts in the state sector. The report suggests that nearly 1m extra face unemployment due to public service cuts. To think that the private sector can pick up the slack just doesn’t seem to be feasible in the short to medium term.

Of course I wouldn’t mind being proved wrong…

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Trade bodies - how to make friends and influence people

Trade body announcements and other industry commentary came in thick and fast yesterday starting just after 6am with Michael Coogan’s live interview on Radio 4’s Today programme discussing the latest CML research. This shows, according to the CML, that the FSA hasn’t done its homework properly in relation to responsible lending proposals within the MMR and the potential impact on the market if the proposals were implemented.  

I confess at this point I have not been through the research fully and so will resist the temptation to discuss the CML’s conclusions and whether I agree with them. But wherever you stand on this issue I wonder whether the industry is showing itself in the best possible light. What are trade bodies trying to achieve? The FSA have come out with their consultation paper and have welcomed input from the industry. We can either do that discretely with the FSA who, in my experience welcome constructive comment, or we can be shrill and publicly critical about our views. Which do we think will be the most effective way of working with the FSA I wonder?  

I know which I prefer and recommend and I suspect I know which will have the most impact in ensuring that proportionate responses are made and points taken on board within the final shape of regulation. I think trade bodies are at risk of damaging the industry and making themselves ineffective and redundant if they aren’t careful.  Watch this space!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Basel Blogging

The Basel committee recently moved to clarify the new banking capital adequacy requirements and, as expected is raising regulatory ratios. It is of course debatable that such a move provides a cast iron guarantee against further crises but it is fair to say that banks that retain better quality capital are likely to be more resilient in future periods of crises.

Whatever the reactions of the weaker (and stronger) banks to these requirements, the new world will make new demands of shareholders, regulators and governments alike. More bank capital means there will less for others to share around. Banks will have to increase their core tier-one capital ratio to 4.5% by 2015.. In addition, they will have to carry a further "counter-cyclical" capital conservation buffer of 2.5% by 2019. Any bank that fails to meet the new requirements is expected to be banned from paying dividends to shareholders. Understanding the real risk inherent in a bank’s assets will be crucial in making an assessment of the bank’s value. Balance sheets will be more important than ever before. Whilst most UK banks have already exceeded the 7 per cent for Tier 1 capital (and shares have rallied) this isn’t true across the board and has yet to be adhered to by many multi-national financial institutions.

Of course this will affect banks’ appetite for engaging in all types of business, not least mortgage lending but as for the real impact upon individual markets and activities we will have to wait. Fair to say residential mortgage lending is not about to take off.

Will these measures be enough? I suspect so as a considerable amount of time has been granted by policy-makers to banks to put these measures into place. However only recently Lord Myners suggested that the global deal on banks’ capital was ‘disappointing’. and did not push the financial institutions hard enough to become safer..

Having said that, I don’t think anybody wants to wipe out the banks ability to finance an economic recovery. But be under no illusions these measures will hurt and will remind banks they are under more scrutiny than ever before. This story is set to run…

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Confidence tricks

Everywhere you look confidence is an issue. The recent Nationwide Consumer Confidence Index reflects that consumer confidence continued to fall during July. Economic news from the Bank of England suggests we will charter “choppy waters” for the coming 12 to 18 months. But perhaps the real figures of note behind yesterday’s revisions to growth and inflation (and indeed future consumer sentiment) are the unemployment figures. While unemployment fell 3,800, the number taking part-time jobs rocketed 115,000 to a record 7.84 million and the number of long-term unemployed grew. Furthermore wages slipped further behind the cost of living.

Unemployment (or fear of it) really matters because while the fear of what is coming can already be seen through the consumer confidence survey, the impact of these cuts has yet to be felt. Will the private sector be in a position to take up the slack created by the slaying of public sector excess? This is the single biggest factor that will determine not only the success of the coalition but also banks’ appetite for lending.

Whether in mortgages or business loans the banks remain nervous. The holding strategy recently announced of setting up a committee to examine the lack of small business lending sums up the banks current attitude. If we are really going to get liquidity back then banking and investor confidence remains key. They not only have to see a future but believe it is attainable. This is a waiting game but also a catch twenty two. Again confidence is the key.
What is certain is that as soon as one moves, the others will.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Elephant in the Room or ‘has anyone seen my prop?’

So where do we go next?

The analogy I’ve started using is the one about the building that had subsidence and was propped up with Acrow props. For building read the banks and financial system and for Acrow props read Special Liquidity Scheme (SLS), Credit Guarantee Scheme (CGS) and Quantitive Easing among others.

The trouble is that these ‘props’ start to be removed next year and the Bank of England is adamant that they won’t be replaced. But I’m afraid that it doesn’t stop there. According to the Bank of England Financial Stability Report published in June, there is a total of £165bn of repayments due under the SLS and £120bn of guarantees under the CGS by the end of 2012. These are the props of course. In addition, by the end of 2012, the Bank of England forecast around £480bn of unsecured senior debt, subordinated debt, covered bonds and securitisations maturing or callable over the period. That’s an eye watering £765bn for the market to find by the end of 2012 which equates to an average of £25bn a month. With the debt crisis in Greece we have nowhere near achieved this year to date. The building is looking a little shaky at this point!

The Bank is clearly well focussed on this but has also made it very clear that they expect the industry to find this money themselves and that there will be no further Government or Bank of England bail-outs. So can they? Frankly I doubt it. If they can’t and there’s no assistance then have no doubts, with the props taken away the system will crash again.

Banks globally have continued to de-leverage since the onset of the credit crisis and in the UK this has meant that banks have assets of around 19 times their capital rather than the 30 times we saw at the end of 2008. This has manifested itself in declining asset classes including not only those esoteric types of asset, the derivative, but also in the tangible loans made to other banks, corporates and individuals. This is one of the reasons that Vince Cable has been urging banks to lend more. The banks are saying they are lending as much the market currently demands. This may or may not be true in the SME sector, I’m not an expert, but it doesn’t sound right to me in relation to mortgages. Residential mortgage loans represent the largest single asset class in the UK at around £1.2tn. It is mind-blowingly massive. To fund this, banks and building societies are having to use retail deposits and wholesale markets. Although retail deposits are growing overall they are simply not sufficient in scale to meet the problem. As competition hots up in this sector, they will become less useful as a funding mechanism due to increased expense and volatility as they change hands between deposit takers more rapidly. Not only that, mortgages are inherently medium to long-term assets and funding them solely from demand to one year maturity deposits simply doesn’t work if you want a stable market. Ask any Treasurer. If you are still in doubt about the over-reliance on short term debt to fund longer term assets then look at Northern Rock and remember the queues. The Bank of England recognises this and is exhorting banks and building societies to lengthen maturities of funding saying that an increasing reliance on short-term funding is undesirable and would perpetuate the structural fragilities in funding profiles that have caused disruption in the last three years (so we agree on this). The stability the Bank of England is looking for can only be achieved by issuing term maturity debt instruments and in particular Covered Bonds and Mortgage Backed Securities.  

Building Societies get a special mention where some £22bn of maturing fixed rate bonds will need refinancing in 2010. With highly competitive retail deposit markets building societies will have to either cut back further on lending activities or look to other sources of funding such as pooled securitisation ideas and strengthening core Tier I capital. Looking at Kent Reliance and their deal with JC Flowers we can see they have already gone down this route. Further consolidation in this sector looks inevitable from where I’m standing. Amazingly, the Bank of England is suggesting that the relevant provisions of the Building Societies (Funding) and Mutual (Transfers) Act 2007 are implemented to eradicate the preferential status that wholesale lenders achieve when lending to Building Societies.  In other words they want banks lending to Building Societies to carry more risk than at present so as to encourage them to take a more rigorous approach to assessing risk and controls over the Building Society sector. Isn’t that what the FSA should be doing rather then getting banks to do it? My fear is that this will just make it much harder for Building Societies to borrow from banks and hasten their sector’s demise.

So the banking reporting season is under way and the results by and large seem positive and encouraging. Sadly I’m not so sanguine. It seems to me that we have a massive elephant in the room that no one is talking about. I don’t think the banks and building societies can refinance £750bn through the markets alone and if they can’t then without Government support the market and the economy has a very big problem.  Slowing of lending activity will slam the brakes on recovery. If the props are removed too soon then the whole edifice is in danger of falling down!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Where's the cunning plan?

Well I failed to get a blog out in July, a month which saw the FSA launch their CP 10/16 Responsible Lending paper. My excuse was that I was on holiday at the time and when I was faced with trying to download a 186 page document onto a Blackberry in Portugal whilst sipping a glass of Vinho Verde I gave up.

I did see the industry response however, most of it hostile to the FSA.

I’m back now and have read it and have been able to consider my feelings.

In short there is nothing of any great surprise in the document so to that extent I don’t think the industry response was proportionate, as the FSA would say. Would I rather we didn’t have another slew of regulation to assimilate? Of course I would and so to that extent it doesn’t make me feel any better because it just isn’t going to help get the mortgage market back on its feet.

The problems the industry are facing have nothing to do with irresponsible lenders , borrowers or bad practices, regardless of how much of that actually went on, but a Global credit crisis and ensuing liquidity shortage which has not gone away. So to that extent the potential changes to regulation don’t make things worse at a macro level – they just give us a number of additional things we need to focus on. More importantly it doesn’t make it any better either.

Is this the FSA’s fault? Short answer has to be no!

So where does it leave us and where next for regulation?

What I think is missing from a policy perspective is what is the overall vision and strategy for the UK? What level of home ownership does David Cameron see as being the desirable for the UK going forward and is it consistent with the ‘aspirational views’ broadcast by his housing minister Grant Shapps? And do we really expect to have a vibrant market with masses of products, innovation and lenders to choose from? If we do then CP10/16 does little to further that aim given that its focus is on stable markets not supply and innovation. At some point I would love to see a clearly annunciated strategy and vision which the multipartite authorities are able to frame their policies and proposals around. We wouldn’t expect a company to operate without an overall strategic plan and business plan would we? Why should the economy be any different?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A step into the unknown

George Osborne’s bank levy to raise £8.3billion in four years rightly made budget headlines last week. Part political opportunism, part economic necessity, this measure was met with broad public approval. After all, no-one is going to begrudge the Chancellor his swipe at the banking sector whose stock among the public both literally and figuratively is at an all time low. What’s more this move will meet with international approval as politicians across the globe implement schemes like this to recoup losses and make a point.

This figure at first sight appears considerable but in the context of likely bonus payouts by the banks over the same period I suspect will be manageable. More worrying may be its impact on their capital bases. With wholesale funding remaining tight the levy must be accurately judged so as not to undo the repair to balance sheets that is currently underway. And while the banks will benefit from cuts in corporation tax too this levy must not make operating in the UK unattractive compared to other jurisdictions given its reliance on Financial Services.

The expectation of many is that banks such as Lloyds, RBS, Barclays and HSBC will shoulder the lion’s share, the very banks that are (with Santander) exclusively writing the UK’s current mortgage business. With access to wholesale money still difficult demands on capital remain acute. How they choose to accommodate the levy may have consequences for their lending activity. The levy is a political and economic gamble which will exact a modicum of revenge for the excesses of the past but we must hope not at the cost of future mortgage lending.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Death by a thousand cuts?

The budget promises death by a thousand cuts but if it’s light on detail at the end of June then more will come in the spending review. This is even more likely following the announcement by Fitch, one of the world’s biggest credit rating agencies, warning that the Government must cut spending by some £86bn, equivalent to the entire NHS budget, over the next five years to maintain Britain’s reputation with international investors. Fiscal policy sends signals to markets and citizens alike about a Government’s intent and will tell us how fast and how profoundly we are willing to tackle the deficit. In this case the Government must act decisively and quickly to avoid the danger of falling into a double dip recession and to ensure that World opinion of the UK remains positive.

As mortgage practitioners, we are all reading the runes to determine when the market will get back to something resembling normality. While fiscal measures will affect confidence, in the form of likely job security – specifically in the public but also the private sector – wages and the abolition of certain public service projects, monetary policy is equally important to the long term health of the home-owning market.

Interest rates have been on hold at record lows for many months now, effectively putting money back into the pocket of borrowers on SVR or tracker rates. Should wage inflation kick in then interest rates will go up and the pain for thousands of borrowers will become more acute. Of course a burst of remortgage activity may be no bad thing but remember that many borrowers on interest only mortgages may not be in a position to find a like for like affordable deal. Indeed more and more lenders are turning away from interest only mortgage deals with some encouragement from the FSA and any remortgage is likely to be locking a higher margin for the lender than the product that it replaces. We have already seen, over the last couple of years how supply has not been able to meet demand. Total number of mortgage products available in the markets is today less than 15% of the number that were available in the peak of the markets and there are none for the credit impaired market. Interest rates have never been a subtle tool as they treat the UK as a homogenous economic unit when in fact what it feels like in London is not how it may feel in Nottingham. Nevertheless, millions would be affected by a rise in interest rates and so whatever fiscal measures are adopted, monetary policy will still play its part.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

small advisors beware!

Only last week, an ex colleague approached me for advice. A relative who runs a small Directly Authorised firm had been given thirty days by the FSA to stop trading, hire a Compliance Director, or find a home as an Appointed Representative of a network. Without being privy to the facts of this particular case, it is my guess that he is not alone. You might not like it but you could understand if the FSA privately regards small DA’s as inconvenient and costly to regulate. This poses the bigger question, why would you want to be Directly Authorised in the current mortgage market?

When mortgage regulation arrived almost ten years ago, many suggested up to 20% of a DA’s time would be redirected into regulated matters, at a substantial loss of turnover, and the time to process any sale would increase owing to paper work. That is a stretch for any small business. Throw in subsequent initiatives from regulators, networks and lenders alike (TCF,MMR,RDR, I could go on)and you can quickly see how being a small DA might feel like running through treacle.

As a result of more sophisticated means of monitoring, many DA’s, who may once have considered themselves too small to bother the FSA, now enjoy even greater vigilance and policing from the regulator. Lost time, increasing regulatory fees, and falling mortgage and insurance income will present small DA’s with a strategic decision. My advice is to make the choice before it is forced upon you.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

When markets get things wrong!

It doesn't happen frequently first of all. Indeed, it’s fair to say the market's collective wisdom is far more perceptive than the views of those who individually constitute it. But from time to time it does get things wrong, losing touch with the real economy of people.

There is form for this. I am sure the credit crisis will be taught in years to come as yet another example of boom and bust along with Tulip mania in the 18th century and the South Sea bubble in the 19th century to name but two.

On a lesser scale but prominent to city watchers nevertheless, was the prediction of the bond markets on election night that a Tory majority was a racing certainty – even in the face of bookmaker odds and Exit polls. So what should we make of clamour among investors that a strong stable government is what the UK needs as soon as possible lest we all go Greek overnight?

The history of UK economic misfortunes is littered with self fulfilling dark prophesies from the markets but with their recent track record you can forgive people for not taking them as seriously as perhaps they should. Financial Services has burned too many bridges of late with the general public. Our politicians have been reminded to whom they are accountable and there is need for the newly formed Con-Lib coalition to prove itself to the people pretty quickly.

Having said this commentators readily admit that the chaos in Europe is affecting markets far more than the seemly transition of power here. Indeed our politicians are behaving in a way you certainly could not guarantee of the markets - it’s all very grown up.

The ongoing misfortunes of our European neighbours are more serious than the transfer of power at home. After all, prior to the election, all the parties (and electorate) were already committed to cuts and reducing the deficit. The arguments now are about timings and priorities, not the need to deal with it. The markets will continue to point out that this instability is difficult. What do they want, an easy life? Time to earn their corn methinks! The message to the markets is, we hear you but wait your turn.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Is there a doctor in the house?

World financial markets are far from recovered. While the Germans try to administer very unpleasant medicine to Greece, other countries among the PIGS (perhaps they need a Vet) risk getting the symptoms of contagion. Yields on Portuguese national debt, for example, are heading north at an alarming rate.

It was once said that when the US sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold.
The credit crunch demonstrated the alarming truth of that. But the pressing issue now is one of rebound. If Greece effectively keels over (how can that be allowed to happen?), we all will feel the resulting impact on the global banking system. We just can't afford to have that level of destabilisation so soon after finally getting things under control again. The downgrading of Greek national debt to junk status by Standard and Poor’s is bringing havoc to markets with some traders privately admitting that anything that is offered up now is “too little too late.” Liquidity is fragile and this will do nothing to help the global flows of capital as banks will rush to protect their positions, shore up their capital adequacy and become paralysed while they reconsider new strategies. The flight to quality is in full swing.

If the PIGS were to go under the consequences for global capital flows would be profound and this just can’t be allowed to happen. No country in today’s world is isolated and the illness of one is felt by all.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Politics, politics........

And so it starts. 

As I write this week, political parties of all colours are launching their manifestoes, blitzing the media, and indulging in the inevitable mudslinging that leaves you under no illusion that a general election has started.

Interestingly, never before have decisions about the future of our industry had so many ramifications for our ability to do just about anything else. Whether defence, health, or education, the financial crisis is now affecting our view of how much or how little we can do with all these important areas of public policy.

The Financial Services industry and the City of London in particular, have become amongst the most important features of the UK economy. But the financial crisis has focused everyone’s critical faculties (some greater than others) on its contribution. Of course, there have been and continue to be considerable benefits for UK plc from our industry, but, as we have now discovered there were also major systemic risks which spilled over into the rest of the economy. It is the job of politicians as policy makers to cut the risks relative to the benefits. But, short of sound bites about bashing bankers, and more regulation, little will be heard about this.

This is a shame because the mortgage market faces decades of instability unless the Government addresses the impending funding gap, which will widen by a further £312bn with the cessation of the Govt special schemes in 2012 and 2014.  

Industry insiders are all concerned by the scale of the problem facing mortgage lenders if wholesale funding continues to be difficult to come by. There is no silver bullet to this funding issue. Retail funding is as vulnerable to market change as any wholesale model, is too small in relation to the overall funding gap and is inherently short-term in nature when what the markets requires is a medium to long-term funding solution. Given, the volumes of maturing debt, as well as the need to continue new lending, there is a case for the Bank of England to extend the SLS, or better still, replace it with a long-term liquidity mechanism and work with the industry to allow securitisation and covered bonds to be seen as attractive and safe instruments for investors again.

Most recent comment by both Mervyn King and Lord Turner give some encouragement in this regard.

Parties will trade blows over cuts, the timing of cuts, and headline giveaways. But my overall impression is that the electorate will remain unaware of the major economic choices and their ramifications. 

Perhaps that suits us, perhaps it does not. I worry that in this election, too many may be fiddling while Rome burns.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The real test will be to see what has changed by this time next year

First of all, my thanks to all the contributors and attendees at this year’s Mortgage Funding Conference. Initial feedback and coverage has been very positive. My thanks are also due to Sidley Austin for their sponsorship of the event.

I am particularly pleased as the conference was the first of its kind since the credit crunch gripped the industry. My aim is to establish an ongoing collaborative event – a ministry of all the talents if you like - that can highlight, discuss and maybe even resolve the issues that are affecting everyone. From time to time the vested interests of financial services need to put differences aside and pull together so it was gratifying to see all manner of market commentators: lenders, distributors, bankers and regulators in attendance in full voice.

Our overall aim then is simple: to move towards a fully funded and competitive mortgage market underpinned by an increasing number of mortgage lenders ready, willing and able to lend, or to lend more.

The lack of a level playing field was a theme that ran through many conference addresses and perhaps unsurprisingly, the lack of action from the authorities in support of wholesale funding markets and the broad range of mortgage lenders was criticised by many speakers.

My own view is that we cannot expect guarantees in this market from the government. But there are postives, as Robert Plehn, head of structured securitisation and covered bonds at Lloyds Banking Group, noted in his excellent presentation. While a RMBS guarantee scheme set up by the UK had not been able to be put into practice, it did represent a “tipping point” for investor sentiment towards UK RMBS as it demonstrated that the government was willing to act in support of the asset class.

Other highlights included Rob Thomas’ passionate defence of wholesale funding noting that the necessary guarantee of retail savings deposits by the Chancellor had shifted the balance unduly in favour of retail funding. Indeed the FSA is continuing to accentuate this bias in its pursuit of lower wholesale funding ratios as part of their change to bank and building society rules for maintaining liquidity. These actions in isolation never seem as bad as when considered in their totality.

On a positive note we should also welcome the fact that Mervyn King and Lord Turner have recently endorsed the importance the securitisation and covered bond markets: Lord Turner said only last week that “securitisation will continue to play a significant role in the credit intermediation process and ... could perform a socially useful function of enabling improved risk management.”

It seems to me that we are moving on and the high attendance at this conference and positive feedback received proves that there is commitment to diversified and robust funding across the industry in one shape, form or another. The real test will be to see what has changed by this time next year.

One thing is clear: we need more mortgage lenders to be active in the market than there are today and this means getting the funding markets working efficiently again with a diversity of funding sources or we are in danger of markets (and I mean both the housing market and wider economy) wallowing in the doldrums.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Welcome to my blog, my inaugural offering being in conjunction with the launch of our new website. So, I hope to post thoughts, reflections and insights about what’s happening in and to the mortgage industry every two weeks or so. Please make a note in the diaries to check me out and email me with thoughts.

This week's topic is on the theme of the Mortgage Funding Conference. As many of you who have seen me present in the past will know, this is a current favourite topic of mine – and I think more people are coming around to my way of thinking.