Monthly Archives: February 2017

Remember 2008?

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) estimates that gross mortgage lending reached £18.9 billion in January. This is 6% lower than December’s lending total of £20 billion, but 2% higher than the £18.6 billion lent in January last year. This is the highest lending total for a January since 2008 (£25.2 billion).

CML senior economist Mohammad Jamei suggested that overall mortgage lending continued to hold up pretty well, but it appears the UK has a twin-track market. The weakness in buy-to-let landlords and home movers has been offset by an increase in first-time buyers and remortgage lending. From the data the CML highlights a continuing acute shortage of homes being offered for sale is one aspect of a broken housing market that looks unlikely to resolve in the near term.

The 20 something is the new 30 something

The average 20-something is a homely sort, still living where they grew up, often still with family, spending much of their time on TV or social media – and typically more inclined to relax with friends and family than have a big night out, according to a recent study by Nationwide Building Society. The research as part of a series of insights into the lifestyles of a range of age groups, to better understand how they live their lives, where they spend their money and what they aspire to achieve.

The survey of 2,000 Britons aged between 20 and 29 uncovers a generation where two thirds (65%) would rather socialise at a friend’s house than spend unnecessarily at a pub or club. This could be because, though they earn an average of £19,186, after bills they are left with only £210 in monthly disposable income. And when it comes to attempting to save, the choice seems to be between housing or holidays, with a third (32%) trying to get a deposit together for a mortgage, perhaps because 30 per cent still live with family. Some three in ten (30%) are focused on saving for a holiday, a quarter (24%) putting cash away for a rainy day and one in ten on stockpiling funds for a wedding.

But despite best intentions, debt is a reality for most in this age group, with the two thirds who went to university saddled with four times as much debt as those who did not – £20,515 versus £4,721.

Park life

The latest research from online estate agent eMoov.co.uk highlights how much more a property commands surrounding city parks across the UK when compared to the city as a whole. eMoov looked at eight major UK cities and the average cost of getting on the ladder, compared to the price of property surrounding each city’s best and biggest parks.

Although there are several upsides to city living, lots of green space is not one of them, therefore, living close to a park can come with a premium. eMoov found that property surrounding 24 of the UK’s best city parks cost 70% more on average, then the average UK house (£206,909).

Hyde park autumnIn Cardiff, the average property is valued at £216,083 but property surrounding Roath Park is well above Cardiff’s average at £263,407. In Scotland’s capital park properties have a 22.1% premium. Prices jump drastically surrounding Inverleith Park (£286,361) and even more so near Princes Street Garden (£418,129). And, with the high cost of London property in general, it is no shock that living close to a park will require some additional budget when buying, 83% more to be precise.

Home Insurance on the rise

Insurance premium tax rises are driving up the cost of home insurance pushing average annual premiums up 1.8% to £124, new analysis from insurance market research experts Consumer Intelligence shows.

But Consumer Intelligence is warning more price rises are on the way as the weak pound drives up the cost of repairs and another Insurance Premium Tax rise takes effect in June. Its data – which is used by the Government’s Office of National Statistics to calculate official inflation statistics – shows the last Insurance Premium Tax rise in October is one of the main reasons for the increase in the year to January.

The quarterly Home Insurance Price Index shows premiums are rising fastest for over-50s who have seen increases of 3% in the past year to £128 compared with increases of 1% for under-50s. Home insurance customers in the East of England are experiencing the highest increases in premiums with average rises of 4.3% in the past year. Londoners have seen prices fall over the year but still pay the highest premiums at £147.

Analysts warn that the weakness of the pound since the EU Referendum is having an impact on building material costs which will increase the cost of repairs and premiums depending on which contractor’s insurers use. However, customers can take comfort from the fact that home insurance costs are still 7.8% lower than in February 2014 when Consumer Intelligence first analysed data.

You’re hired

The toughest, and strangest, questions faced by jobseekers have been revealed, including being asked how their enemies would describe them.

Job interviewInterviewers are also demanding to know if a CV contains a lie, and if candidates can reveal the most selfish thing they have ever done. Jobs site Glassdoor said some of the questions would make anyone “squirm”, although they showed how people should be prepared to answer anything at an interview.

The top 10 toughest questioned compiled by Glassdoor were:

  • What on your CV is the closest thing to a lie?
  • What am I thinking right now?
  • How would your enemy describe you?
  • If you had a friend who was great for a job and an identical person who was just as good, but your friend earned £2,000 less, who would you give the job to?
  • What’s the most selfish thing you’ve ever done?
  • You are stranded on the moon with a group of other astronauts and you need to travel 200 miles back to base, here is a list of 15 items salvaged from the wreckage of the spacecraft you were travelling in. List them in order of importance.
  • If your best friend was here what advice would he give you?
  • Describe your biggest weakness. Then describe another.
  • How do you cope with repetition?
  • How would you describe cloud computing to a seven-year-old?

Jobseekers have also been asked if they are a “nice guy”, and to describe their childhood. Companies covered by the research included those in computing, accountancy, marketing, advertising and sales.

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Compliance Update

MetLife LogoMetLife’s MultiProtect Sales
Process

There are many products available in your tool kit that are very similar, offering variations of the same thing available from another provider. As a broker it is your role to understand the differences – the features, benefits and exclusions – and to make a precise recommendation that matches the customer’s needs with the best solution.

When you come across a niche product it can make the process a little more challenging and it is important to both understand the product but also to have a sales process that will help you get it right.

MetLife’s MultiProtect product falls into this category. It is a plan that provides cover for certain specified accidental injuries and UK hospital stays, with no medical underwriting and a premium that is based on a segmented approach. It is fair to say that the plan offers a type of cover that is different to most other types of cover on the market.

Once you understand this plan it is a good option to have at your disposal, to offer in conjunction with another policy or as a standalone product. It could even lend itself to a campaign across your database. Having said that my fear would be that it could be positioned incorrectly, poorly explained and a customer might not be able to make a claim at a later point that could lead to a complaint. It would be easy to see how it could be miss sold, much to the delight of an aggressive Claims Management Company!

HLPartnership has therefore developed a product specific fact find and template suitability letter, which is designed to ensure that, through the fact find stage, the correct questions are asked to consider whether the customer may be excluded on occupation or the plan might have medical exclusions that should be flagged at the outset. The suitability letter reinforces these and should give you assurance that you have provided the customer with all the key information about the policy.

A Guide for MetLife MultiProtect is now available on the members site, along with the product specific fact find and template suitability letter. For more information on the product, go to MetLife’s resource centre.

Coventry Building Society product transfer (retention) arrangements

It’s great to see lenders in the market falling over themselves in a mad rush to put out their retention arrangements, with many lenders now confirming proc fee payments. We are working on a composite update to summarise the recent changes and to re-publish the HLP Product Transfer Process that was updated and simplified towards the end of 2016. (If you haven’t seen this already, go to the Compliance section of the Members Site to download the document.)

This week Coventry Building Society has brought forward it’s plans in a bid to remain competitive, by introducing a retention fee on Buy to Let mortgages only, but in doing so they have advised that the KFI will not publish the correct information as it is not yet capable of showing the fee. Not to fear though, as their product transfer process requires that the adviser calls 0800 121 7788, and select option 3 and the agent will talk you through the process. The KFI will include a side letter that will state the procuration fee, calculated at 0.3%.

Weekly Round-up: 17th February 2017

Spend Spend Spend

The latest Family Spending Survey has been released by the Office for National Statistics which suggests the average weekly household spending remained level at £528.90 in the financial year ending 2016, coinciding with a slowdown in consumer confidence.

Low-income households continued to spend a higher proportion of their expenditure on food and energy when compared with households with a higher income. UK households spent more than £45.00 a week on restaurants and hotels for the first time in 5 years.

Average weekly spending on alcohol, tobacco and narcotics fell below £12.00 for the first time and over half of money spent on communication was spent on a mobile phone-related cost. Households spent an average of £2.40 a week on household appliances. In 2015/16, of all households 97% owned a washing machine and 93% owned a microwave. On the other hand, only 56% of households owned a tumble dryer and less than half of households owned a dishwasher (45%).

In the financial year ending 1997, only 16% of UK households owned a mobile phone. By 2015/16, this increased by 79 percentage points to reach 95%. To put this into context, 95% of UK households also have central heating, suggesting that communication devices such as mobile phones are now viewed as a necessity.

The Future is Now

A Nationwide Building society poll, which was commissioned to mark the UK’s first Fintech Fortnight, shows that around two thirds (65%) of people in the UK recognise the benefits of financial technology (FinTech). Following the popularity of contactless cards, mobile payments and a range of other innovations, more than half (51%) of us fully expect the next generation of banking to add speed and convenience to their everyday money management.

Over a quarter of us say the amount of mail they receive has reduced, while budgeting is now easier due to FinTech as almost one in five believe it is simpler than ever before to control various accounts at one time. A fifth (20%) think virtual reality technology will replace real interaction within financial services and more than two fifths (43%) believe iris recognition technology will form part of their everyday lives. 16% anticipate that augmented reality will help us to view and manage our spending.

A quarter (25%) believe advances in security on mobile devices and biometrics will mean cards or wallets are consigned to history and more than a third (36%) are curious to see how FinTech continues to evolve in the future. While many are interested in the benefits innovation brings, there remain those who are concerned about a potential reduction in human service. The poll shows around one in five (22%) of those surveyed were nervous that continued technological enhancements may mean that human engagement and interaction will be lost in the future.

First Time Record

According to the Council of Mortgage lenders, home-owner house purchase lending totalled £11.6bn in December, up 5% on November and 3% on December 2015. This came to 63,600 loans, up 5% on November and 0.2% on December 2015. First-time buyers borrowed £5.1bn for home-owner house purchase, up 9% on November and 13% on December 2015. This totalled 32,000 loans, up 7% month-on-month and 8% year-on-year.

Year on Year the amount of money home movers borrowed was down by 3% at £6.5bn but up by 3% on November. This totalled 31,600 loans, up 3% month-on-month but down 7% compared to December 2015. Home-owner remortgage activity was down 21% by volume and by value compared to November. Compared to December 2015, remortgage lending was up 7% by volume and by value.

In the Buy to Let market, there was a month-on-month decrease, down 15% by volume and 7% by value. Compared to December 2015, the number of loans decreased 21% and the value of these loans decreased 18%. In the final quarter on 2016, gross buy-to-let lending decreased to £6bn, down 2% on the previous quarter and 3% on the same quarter in 2015. This totalled 57,400 loans, up 2% quarter-on-quarter but down 20% year-on-year.

Looking at the year as a whole, First-time buyers borrowed more in 2016 than any other year since our records began in 1974. Lenders advanced £53.2bn, in 2016, up 13% on 2015 with 338,900 loans, up 8% from the previous year.

Rent at Risk

Backup planMillions of people in the UK who rent their homes from private landlords are putting themselves and their families at risk of eviction and financial hardship due to lack of a financial back-up plan, according to research from Scottish Widows.

Despite almost a third (30%) of private renters admitting that they’d not be financially secure if their household lost its main income, less than a fifth (16%) have life cover in place and only 3% have critical illness insurance. This is regardless of the fact that more than half (56%) have children under the age of 16 who rely on them financially.

More than a third (35%) concede that if they or their partner were unable to work for six months or longer due to ill health or personal injury, they’d be unable to live on a single income. And when reviewing their finances, 35% pay little or no attention to insuring their rent.

According to Scottish Widows, there is more than double the share of families in the private rented sector today than in 1992, and the Insurer predicts it is increasingly likely that more homes will be let than sold in 2017, yet renters are at much higher financial risk than mortgage-holders, 50% of whom have life cover in place and 20% have critical illness insurance.

Arranging financial protection, in fact, is way down the list of renters’ priorities. One in eight (80%) view a mobile phone as essential yet only 28% think the same about providing security for their dependents in case they die, and just 21% think that providing security for their family should they become seriously ill is a necessity.

Just under a third (30%) of private renters say that they’d use savings to manage financially if their household lost its main income, yet a fifth (20%) have less than £1,000 put aside and 30% have no savings at all. Just under a quarter (36%) could only afford to pay household bills for a maximum of five months if they or their partner were unable to work, and 13% say they wouldn’t be able to pay anything at all.

Thumbs down

You can still pass Go and collect 200 pounds on the Monopoly board, but soon you will not be able to do it with the thimble game piece. Voters have rejected the thimble, an integral part of the game since being added to Monopoly in 1935.

The move is part of a campaign to select the next generation of game pieces. Hashtags, emojis and even a rubber duck may replace dogs, cats and hats in an upcoming version.

Hasbro is holding a worldwide contest to let people choose the eight tokens to be included in the next generation of the property acquisition game, based on the real streets of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Winners will be announced on March 19 and should be included in games hitting shelves this August.

Compliance Update

Laptop with social media iconsGuidance for Social Media Marketing

Following the excellent Drive2017 events in January and my blog last week talking about the importance of keeping your business relevant to your customers I wanted to mention this week that we have published an updated guide to using social media.

Social media is an excellent way to communicate with your customers and HLP CRM powered by 360, in combination with the weekly updates published by the network, combined with local updates to your ‘community’ of followers makes it simple for you to build your brand profile.

Within the financial services environment, however, interaction through this medium also presents a major challenge for the network as we must comply with regulatory requirements on financial promotions.

Our guide to financial promotions using social media explains the risks involved and gives examples of compliant status updates and wall posts. It talks about ensuring that your public communications are clear fair and not misleading and offers a best practice approach.

So, if you are using social media already or our recent events and communications have sparked an idea for a social media strategy, please refer to the guide, which can be found in the Member’s Area of the HLP secure site.

Weekly Round-up: 10th February 2017

Housing Policy – A White Paper

BlueprintsThis week saw the Government release its White Paper designed to address people’s housing needs and aspirations both in the short and long term. Short term this includes supporting people to buy or rent their own home, preventing homelessness, improving options for older people and protecting the most vulnerable. Central to the Government’s plans is the partnership between central and local government and developers. This White Paper sets out the support the Government will provide to enhance the capacity of local authorities and industry to build new homes this country needs and in return what is expected of professions and institutions to turn the proposals into reality.

The policies and proposals set out in the White Paper apply to England only. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, housing and planning policy is the responsibility of the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive respectively.

For local authorities, the Government is offering higher fees and new capacity funding to develop planning departments, simplified plan-making, and more funding for infrastructure. They will make it easier for local authorities to take action against those who do not build out once permissions have been granted and there is interest in the scope for bespoke housing deals to make the most of local innovation. All local authorities will be asked to develop an up-to-date plan with their communities that meets their housing requirement (or, if that is not possible, to work with neighbouring authorities to ensure it is met), decide applications for development promptly and ensure the homes they have planned for are built out on time. The Government will intervene where it is felt that a local authority is not making sufficient progress on producing or reviewing their plans. And where the number of homes being built is below expectations, a new housing delivery test will ensure that action is taken.

If you are a private developer, the Government is offering a planning framework that they feel will be more supportive of higher levels of development, with quicker and more effective processing and determination of planning applications, and is exploring an improved approach to developer contributions. They will encourage modern methods of construction in house building, partner with smaller and medium-sized builders and contractors in the Accelerated Construction programme, and help with access the loan finance. In return, the Government expects developers to build more homes more quickly that are focussed on design and quality. There is also the expectation that developers will take responsibility for investing in their research and skills base to create more sustainable career paths and genuinely create thousands of new skilled roles.

The White Paper proposes to give local communities a simpler and clearer planning process that makes it easier for them to get involved and shape plans for their area. But in return the Government has asked that there will need to be an acceptance that more housing is needed if future generations are to have the homes they need at a price they can afford.

Housing associations and other not-for-profit developers have already had funding worth a total of £7.1 billion allocated through an expanded and more flexible Affordable Homes Programme. The White Paper consultation process should provide clarity over future rent levels and in return a higher the Government expects significantly more affordable homes being built over the current Parliament.

Lenders, institutional investors and capital market participants should see a clear and stable long-term framework for investment, including products for rent. There is a call for lenders and investors to work more closely with developers and social landlords in their plans to build more homes.

Of course, when creating new a framework for housing, utility companies and infrastructure providers need to be closely aligned with those building property. The Government is exploring an improved approach to developer contributions to help pay for new infrastructure and in return expects infrastructure providers to deliver the services that new housing needs in good time so that development is not delayed.

The housing market is very different in different parts of the country and there is the acknowledgement that one size won’t fit all. The consultation will need local communities to provide the Government with a better understanding of the specific issues that are holding back housing development in their area and there will be a priority for mayors and local leaders to deliver for their communities.

Giving Hope

The number of cancer patients turning to crowdfunding to pay for life-saving medical treatments that are not available on the National Health Service has risen dramatically, according to JustGiving figures.

Medical care iconsThe JustGiving figures were given to BBC Ratio 5 Live earlier this month and show that in 2016, cancer patients or their friends and families set up 2,348 appeals. This is a seven-fold (672%) rise on the number of appeals created in 2015 (304). The total amount raised last year saw an eight-fold increase. More than £4.5m (£4,670,143) was crowdfunded for the cancer treatments abroad – an eight-fold (780%) increase on 2015 (£530,519).

According to JustGiving’s figures, the USA, Germany and Mexico were the most popular destinations for treatment last year. Over a fifth of those looking for treatment (404 people) raised £1,393,490 in donations to travel to the States for their care, a 1,595% increase from 2015. Germany was second with 142 people crowdfunding £368,530 (a 461% increase from 2015), and 23 people raised £69,660 to travel to Mexico for treatment (a 224% increase from 2015).

The most popular treatment crowdfunded for was immunotherapy. 136 people raised £599,652 in 2016 for this procedure (an average of £4,409 each) compared to only six people raising £7,583 in 2015 (a 7,808% increase from 2015).

Letter in doorHome is where the heart is

Police will hand deliver Valentine’s cards to known shoplifters with the advice they should spend the day with “your loved one, not us”. Durham Police are carrying out the crime prevention idea around Bishop Auckland to try to reduce theft from local shops.

Inspector Andy Reeves said: “In the next few days our local criminals will be getting a Valentine’s card but it won’t be from a secret admirer. We will deliver them by hand to the top 10 offenders in each area, with others receiving their cards in the post.”

Reeves continues “And when it’s their birthday and in the run-up to Christmas they can expect us to stay in touch as we will be thinking of them.”

Weekly Round-up: 3rd February 2017

Stable

According to the latest analysis of the housing market, Nationwide Building Society believe that the annual rate of house price growth remained broadly stable at the start of 2017 at 4.3%, only modestly below the growth rate in December of 4.5%.

People ShoppingThe Building Society’s research suggests house prices increased by 0.2% over the month, after taking account of seasonal factors. Nationwide consider that the outlook for the housing market remains clouded, reflecting the uncertainty surrounding economic prospects more broadly. They highlight that on the one hand, there are grounds for optimism as the economy has remained far stronger than expected in the wake of the Brexit vote pointing to recent data indicating that the economy didn’t slow in the second half of 2016 and the unemployment rate remained stable at an 11-year low in the three months to November.

To balance the optimism, there are tentative signs that conditions may be about to soften. Employment growth has moderated, and while wage growth has edged up in recent months, in real terms (i.e. after adjusting for inflation), earnings growth has already slowed, as shown in the chart. With inflation set to rise further in the months ahead as a result of the weaker pound, real wages are likely to come under further pressure. Employment growth is also likely to continue to moderate, should the economy slow as most forecasters expect.

On balance, Nationwide agree with the consensus view that the economy is likely to slow through 2017 as the squeeze on household budgets intensifies and heightened uncertainty weighs on business investment and hiring. Nevertheless, they continue to believe that a small rise in house prices of around 2% is more likely than a decline over the course of 2017, since low borrowing costs and the dearth of homes on the market will continue to support prices.

The most affordable place to live is…

Edinburgh cityAcross the UK, mortgage affordability – the proportion of disposable earnings devoted to mortgage payments – for both first time buyers and homemovers in quarter four (Q4) of 2016 was lowest in Scotland, according to new Bank of Scotland research. Mortgage payments were 19.8% of disposable earnings, compared to 29.7% for the UK.

Although the majority of Scottish LADs have seen a slight increase in the amount of earnings devoted to mortgage payments when compared to Q4 2015, mortgage affordability in Scotland has improved by 17.5 percentage points since reaching a peak of 37.3% in Q3 of 2007. Historically low mortgage rates have been the main driver behind the significant improvement in affordability since 2007.

Despite average Scottish house prices growing by 9% in the past year, according to the Bank mortgage affordability in Q4 2016 rose only marginally from a year earlier, rising from 19.4% to 19.8%. However, this is comfortably below the long-term Scottish average of 28.5%. This proportion has stayed low due to further falls in mortgage rates during 2016, from an average of 2.49% in Q1 to 2.17% in Q4.

The clock is ticking

12 days is the optimum length of time for a property to be listed on the market in order for it to achieve the maximum sale price, according to analysis from HomeOwners Alliance. Any less or more than 12 days on the market means that sellers accept, on average, less than their original asking price. However, agents with an average selling time of 12 days achieve 100.89% of their stated price.

Data from over 5,000 estate agent branches across Britain shows how the eventual price paid for a property steadily decreases over time. After four weeks on the market, sellers typically accept just over 98% of their original asking price; after eight weeks this drops to just over 96% and below 94% after three months. Similarly, agents whose average selling time was less than 12 days achieved only 97% of their asking price.

Based on average property prices across the UK (£218,000), a 12-day sale will net the owner an additional £1,940 on top of their asking price. In London, where the average property changes hands for £482,000, sellers will cash in to the tune of £4,290. After three months on the market however, sellers will receive an average of £13,603 below their asking price, and over £30,000 in London.

Greater protection

People have more financial protection for their deposits from this week. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) limit is now £85,000. It’s up £10,000 after an increase by the regulator earlier this year. And the limit for joint accounts moves to £170,000.

Chief Executive, Mark Neale, said about the increase strengthens savings protection; “Increasing our limit means we’ll protect more money and more people. Our new limit will protect about 98% of the UK public. So people can be sure their money in banks, building societies and credit unions is safe.”

The FSCS protects consumer savings and investments in the event of a firm’s failure. According to EU regulations, non-euro member states are required to adjust their deposit protection limits every five years to the equivalent of €100,000. But significant fluctuations in currency may trigger further reviews.

I enjoy a little Johann Sebastian

Dogs each have their own individual taste in music, researchers believe.

Rastafarian DogA study by animal welfare charity the Scottish SPCA and the University of Glasgow looked at the influence of music on dogs’ behaviour and found changes with a variety of genres. Reggae music and soft rock were found to have the highest positive changes in behaviour and the animal charity is now planning to install sound systems in all its kennels.

Neil Evans, professor of integrative physiology at the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, said: “Overall, the response to different genres was mixed, highlighting the possibility that, like humans, our canine friends have their own individual music preferences. That being said, reggae music and soft rock showed the highest positive changes in behaviour.”

The latest research follows a 2015 study by the same institutions that found classical music had a calming effect on dogs. One group of dogs was observed in silence for a week while another had classical music played into their kennels. The conditions were then switched in the second week and results showed that in both groups the dogs’ stress levels decreased significantly after listening to music.

PhD student Amy Bowman said: “The research, which took place at the Scottish SPCA centre in Dumbarton, clearly shows that music has an effect on a dog’s behaviour. We were keen to explore the effect playing different genres of music had and it was clear that the physiological and behavioural changes observed were maintained during the trial when the dogs were exposed to a variety of music.”

Compliance Update

The Rise of the Robo-Adviser

Terminator T-800 RobotThe Glorious Revolution of 1688 brought a constitutional monarchy and eventually proper democracy to Britain and Ireland. Many historians argue it was the platform that led to Britain becoming ‘Great’. The industrial revolution followed a century later and Britain became a global super-power.

We are on the edge of a new revolution – and I don’t mean Brexit. And it is one we need to quell.

This new revolution has been growing for a while – it is the rise of Robo Advice. The ‘robots’ leading this charge might well be a little scarier than the deadly Terminator robots as they present a real threat of changing the status quo for mortgage advice.

Now, before you put up the barricades at the front door or run screaming to the hills think about this; we have heard it before. The intermediary market has outlasted the threats of telephone banking, internet banking and aggressive ‘direct to consumer’ lending tactics over the last two decades.

So, how real is this new threat? Well, it is definitely real. Habito and Trussle have pronounced themselves to the market and the FCA has a serious agenda for encouraging innovation and technology. The regulator is reporting that there are a number of other firms developing in their ‘sandbox’ environment right now.

There is a new lender in town too, called Digital Mortgages (from Atom Bank) and whilst they are a friendly bunch and see the intermediary as critical to their success, it is interesting to note that they will only permit customers who have a smart device and have downloaded an App to obtain a mortgage from them. They are truly paperless.

The threat is not at critical point, but there is a movement underway.

And the answer to the threat is simple. Keep yourself relevant.

This means embracing technology and using it to engage with your customers. You did a great job for them last time and they will believe you will do the same again next time. But you need to keep in touch, let them know you are around and remind them how knowledgeable you are and how hard you work for them.

Having rolled out the Drive2017 campaign across the network at recent events you will have seen first-hand how use of the HLP CRM, powered by 360, will help you develop the look and feel of a 21st Century business.

Subtle but clever marketing messages and use of social media might be the way that you stay relevant to your customer base; to make them want to come back to you rather than try out this new-fangled robo-advice.

The new threat hasn’t fully manifested itself just yet, but 2017 is the year in which you must say to yourself “I need a new plan”. HLP has created a platform and will continue to develop this. We are with you all the way. Let’s give those revolutionists a bloody nose! Let’s not allow this one to succeed.