Why did you decide to rebrand The Buy to Let Business and what can people expect from Dynamo?
The Buy to Let Business was a very personal journey for me as we evolved from a tiny serviced office in Guildford into a 13,000 sq ft building employing just under 200 staff. However, the modern mortgage market demands that we continue evolving to reflect our position in the market now, and in the future.
Adopting the Dynamo brand was a logical choice at the perfect time. It has a natural synergy with our dynamic team, innovative approach, how we have advanced into more of a fintech business and it better reflects our client-centric attitude across all sectors of the mortgage market.
How will things change as a result of the rebrand? Will you be looking to offer new forms of finance?
Rebranding is always a difficult exercise and it conjures up far more challenges than you might initially think. However, it was a necessary move which all the team bought into and, importantly, all of our strategic partners are fully behind it. It has been met with great enthusiasm across the market and we are delighted by the positive responses we have received.
In practice, it is very much business as usual. Brokers should not expect us to move too far from our specialist roots — and we will become even more active in areas such as bridging and commercial — but it’s fair to say that we are looking to compete with the biggest names from a broker and distribution perspective, which will also mean bolstering our mainstream residential offering.
The digital revolution hasn’t totally disrupted the traditional mortgage journey, but it has certainly improved efficiency levels and we are embracing these changes. Our aim is to make arranging a mortgage as easy as possible to provide a better user experience for brokers and the end consumer.
You consider yourself to be fintech focused. How will technology be changing at Dynamo, and what will you be introducing?
As a brokerage and a mortgage club, we are passionate about technology and it has revolutionised the way we do business. We have assembled an outstanding in-house IT team which has been fundamental in better servicing our clients’ needs and improving efficiency across the whole business. Our in-house criteria guide is on a par with those found in the wider market, and the algorithms that are in place to help source products from fact-find information allow our consultants to spend more time advising and really getting to know the client and their personal circumstances. Looking ahead, we are in the process of developing an intuitive client portal which will allow for easy document upload, thereby further streamlining the client journey. We have evolved to the extent that we have one of the leading systems in the UK, which is entirely internal, and no one really knows about it. This is an ongoing challenge, however, as technology and our competitors don’t sit still.
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Technology is strengthening the link between lenders and distributors, plus helping to enhance lender relations with intermediary partners. For example, last year we launched our first application programming interface (API) link with Foundation Home Loans. More and more lenders are switching on to the benefits attached to integrating their systems with distribution partners to make the mortgage journey quicker and more efficient for all links in the chain. This remains tough going for the more established lenders with legacy issues, but we are doing all we can to help them improve the application process and keep ahead of the tech curve.
The buy-to-let market is extremely competitive right now. Does that make it easier for a broker or more confusing to find the right deal?
That is a good question. A wider variety of lenders are generating innovative, competitive product ranges with sensible criteria to meet shifting demands from a variety of landlords. There’s been a substantial uplift in limited company enquiries and with the balance shifting towards lending of this type, it really highlights the importance of the advice process.
This means it’s something of a double-edged sword. We are operating in a more complex, tighter regulated market and we, as an industry, need to educate the intermediary market on how the sector is evolving. Thankfully, many lenders are working hard to simplify offerings and a wealth of support is available through distribution partners and specialist clubs, such as Dynamo, for intermediaries.
The resources are out there for brokers to simplify the BTL process, but that still doesn’t make it an ‘easy’ one in which to generate new business. Although, thanks to the growth in limited company lending and a burgeoning remortgage market, additional opportunities are being generated for brokers — if they know where to look and are sufficiently clued-up on how to best service the ever-changing needs of their BTL clients.
What are your biggest concerns for the buy-to-let market this year?
I like to stay positive where possible. The BTL market is clearly not as strong as it has been in recent years, but it remains a vital component in the mortgage market, and an important part of the economy. It is arguably more competitive than it has ever been, and the introduction of specialist lenders has resulted in a challenging, but exciting marketplace.
My main concern is that too much negative attention is being cast on this sector. While property is no longer the potential gold mine it once was, BTL can still be highly profitable for a range of landlords when treated as a business venture rather than a dinner-party conversation. I feel that too many positive messages are being lost in all the negative noise and some landlords are still not realising the opportunities on offer, successfully adapting to regulatory/tax changes or realising the importance of the professional advice process in the new BTL dawn.
How did you get into the industry?
I am a qualified accountant with a background in investment banking having worked for UBS, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs. I became a landlord, quickly realised that I could do a better job than the advisers I spoke to, and set up the Buy to Let Business in 2006. It all went from there.
If you didn’t work in finance, what would you be doing?
Well, in my dreams, I would be playing for Liverpool in the Champions League final and scoring the winning goal! However, in reality, I think it’s true to say that I would definitely be doing business of some sort — I really am an entrepreneur through and through. I’m extremely competitive and believe firmly that winning is a habit. I get the greatest satisfaction from changing people’s lives for the better and knowing that I have made a real difference. Running a business — whatever the vertical may be — allows me to do just that.