Leading mortgage brokers have thrown down the gauntlet to Abbey National, challenging it to get its act together, saying the lack of competition faced by market leader HBOS is unhealthy.
Brokers have voiced their concerns over HBOS's market dominance, saying it is important for the industry that Abbey wins back their approval and market share to provide significant competition.
Latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders show that HBOS has 26 per cent of the market, a long way ahead of Abbey in second place with just 10.4 per cent.
Brokers say Abbey, with its traditional heavyweight status, should be eating into HBOS's market.
Abbey chief executive Luqman Arnold has promised to take Abbey back to basics and concentrate on what it does best – personal financial services, particularly mortgages.
Savills Private Finance managing director Mark Harris says: “We are all watching Abbey as it has made a bold statement of intent. It has made the initial steps towards recovery but there is some way to go yet. Healthy competition is necessary and it is important to the industry that Abbey has a strong offering.”
Hamptons International Mortgages managing director Kevin Duffy says: “Abbey will have to do better. It has a significant high-street presence and an established relationship with intermediaries so it is not starting out from scratch. Much of its problem is image. Intermediaries are very short-termist over which lenders they use and Abbey must fight to win back their approval.”
Abbey National for Intermediaries head of communication Christine McAllister says: “We accept that competition is necessary and we are approaching this on three fronts – technology, service and products. Abbey National is providing a real challenge to all players in the market, not just HBOS.”