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Basic instinct

Lender profile Andrea Tryphonides talks to The Mortgage Business MD Nigel Payne about getting back to basics.

The appointment of Nigel Payne as managing director of The Mortgage Business following the shock departures of four TMB directors may finally give the HBoS subsidiary time to breathe.

TMB, the specialist packager-focused lender, has had a turbulent year and Payne is keen to put this behind him and start afresh.

TMB’s woes started in July 2004 when it had to withdraw its products from the market temporarily to catch up with business on its books waiting to be processed. It returned to the market in September with a limited range but, almost exactly one year on, manag-ing director Bill Dudgeon left with his team for Deutsche Bank.

Payne was appointed to report directly to Nigel Stockton, director of HBoS intermediary mortgages. Senior managers John Sleigh, Robert Holmes and Barry Knox were also appointed to take on wider roles within the TMB business.

Payne can get on with what TMB does best – lending in buy to let, self-cert, let to buy and flexible mortgages.

The TMB calendar was launched this week which is something of a tradition for the firm. This year, the focus is on grand masters of painting, with the heads of staff superimposed on pieces of art. December shows the TMB team re-enacting The Anatomy Lecture of Dr Tulip by Rembrandt.

Payne is working to bring the firm back to high standards. He says: “We have got to get back to basics and get those basics right. There is a huge affection for the TMB brand but we have got to get back into people’s minds.”

TMB has started by launching a portfolio focusing on its key areas of strength. Each product is free from early redemption fees and offer 750 cashback.

Key products within the portfolio include a self-cert mortgage fixed at 4.99 per cent for two years, a two-year tracker rate house 2 house mortgage based on income rather than rental income and a three-year tracker rate self-build mortgage at 4.99 per cent which is based on self-cert status rather than not full status.

Payne says one of the most satisfying elements of the market was witnessing how robust the packagers could be after regulation. There was a lot of talk about how the packagers would deal with the changes, with many predicting that they would disappear altogether.

Payne says: “Packagers survived because they were astute enough to change their propositions. Some have become networks in their own right. They have realised how they can add value – support in sourcing, compliance, marketing, etc.”

The term of super-packager was coined in October last year but Payne believes there is more to this end of the market than the dominance of a group of 10 or 12 major players. He says: “We have really been supporting the regional packagers with their marketing PR. We see our relationship with them as a partnership.”

Payne and his team, inclu-ding director of sales Peter Charge, see technology as the next major development. Payne says: “We want to have a really robust end-to-end process and build on our online capabilities to tailor to people’s individual needs. Online, we want to upgrade to full applications, key facts illustrations, simpler registration and case-tracking.”

But Payne first wants to get the core of the business sorted out and he repeats his mantra: “We need to get back to basics. Our main differential has to be our service proposition and not necessarily pricing. We will be getting new staff in but we need to get rid of some elements. For example, when I came in, all I saw were spreadsheets, spreadsheets, spreadsheets. These had to go.”

The next step is to re-associate packagers and brokers with the TMB brand. Payne admits that there has been some bemusement as to how dedicated HBoS was to the TMB brand. He assures the packager market that the firm is here to stay but concedes that there is a lot to be done. He says: “The brand is key but we have to look at how we can use it and stretch what we have got.”

Payne is interested to see where he can go with the distribution capabilities available. He is interested in second-charge lending which he has worked in before.

He says: “The opportunities are enormous. There is a tarnish to it but that is partly because of the brands playing in it at the moment. I would like to see us hitting the market with a credit-repair-type operation. You have to remember that customers get themselves into situations, not because they are unable to deal with their money or because they are irresponsible. The majority of people just need a little help to get themselves back on their feet. We will be looking closely at this.”

Payne will continue to look carefully at home information packs which he supports but believes that if they are not tackled carefully, they could act to destabilise the market.

He says: “There is relatively little information coming from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and if this pilot does not come off, we need to know if there is a contingency plan.”

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