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Abbey rethink on mortgages

Abbey is set to ramp up its presence in the UK mortgage sector following a move away from the market by mortgage giant HBOS and the Northern Rock crisis.

Head of mortgages Nici Audhlam-Gardiner admits that the issues at Northern Rock have presented an opportunity for Abbey, which has the stability of Spanish parent-company Santander.

The announcement by HBOS this month that it will no longer target annual 15-20 per cent net mortgage market share as it moves to step back from the market will also provide Abbey with an extra opportunity to increase business.

Audhlam-Gardiner told Money Marketing that Abbey will definitely not be retracting from it mortgage business.

She says: “It’s about getting the right balance really. We improved our fixed rates recently so it shows that we’re still in the market for more business. We know that customers are still choosing fixed rates over trackers. Our short-term practice is to provide competitive fixed-rates.”

Last week, Abbey dropped its two-year fixed-rate product by 0.1 per cent. It is now available at 5.72 per cent with a £999 fee through a broker or 5.59 per cent with a £1,499 fee.

Audhlam-Gardiner says in the longer term Abbey will look at developing new products and expand its product range.

She points out that Abbey has got some big IT developments which are being implemented early next year and which will make its processes a lot slicker. She also admits there is room for Abbey to improve on its instant offers.

She says: “We are seeing some opportunities from the Northern Rock crisis. We’ve had brokers and networks approach us from a procuration fee angle so there is no doubt that we do have some opportunities.”

Audhlam-Gardiner says Abbey is continually looking at its retention strategy but has no immediate plans.

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