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Inside Edge – David Copland

In 1999, when we changed our name from Advance Mortgage Funding to Pink Home Loans, some in the mortgage industry referred to an expression used by my favourite tennis player John McEnroe: “You cannot be serious.”

But we have always been serious at Pink. Having started life as a packager in 1990 and not being a company to rest on its laurels, we realised there was a bigger game to play in mortgage distribution, so we launched the Pink Mortgage Club.

At the end of 2003, we announced our intention to seek principal status with the FSA and launch a mortgage network in 2004. It is our firm intention to become the best mortgage network in the industry.

Pink is offering three solutions to mortgage intermediaries – Pink Partner for those intermediaries wishing to become appointed representatives, Pink Freedom for intermediaries who become directly authorised and require a compliance support package and Pink Introducer for those intermediaries who decide to refer residential mortgage leads to a third party.

We understand how the market works and have been negotiating attractive product features and procuration fees since our inception. We have also developed a reputation within the lender and intermediary communities for designing innovative products.

Launched in 2001, the parachute mortgage is a menu-style product which targets borrowers with a poor credit history. The interest rate will reduce by 0.5 per cent on an annual basis when satisfactory monthly payments are made.

In 2004, we launched branded lending initiatives with key lender partners, putting our name to product and service solutions that will enhance our product range and the service we provide to our intermediary customers.

While we pride ourselves on our expertise when it comes to designing mortgage products, we decided that we would seek like-minded business partners to offer ancillary services to become a one-stop shop for customers. We have teamed up with Paymentshield to offer buildings and contents and mortgage payment protection insurance.

Direct Life & Pensions, a sister company within the Skipton Building Society group, provides term insurance products and a dedicated conveyancing company, Conveyancing and Remortgage Solicitors, provides a legal service offering an excellent referral fee.

Last year, we launched Pink Secured Loans, a joint venture with Colonial Finance, Pink Personal Loans in association with Amber Credit and joined forces with Commercial First to launch our first commercial mortgage offering, Pink Commercial.

It has been said that only two things are important in business – customers and colleagues. Investing time in staff training and development and using coaching techniques to help employees reach their full potential is the best way to retain customers and attract new ones. Pink has a distinct personality and corporate culture and it is this that differentiates us from the competition. It is all about delivering exceptional customer experiences.

At Pink, these exceptional experiences are delivered by the front-line staff who interact with our customers on a daily basis, from the initial enquiry on our mortgage desk to the staff member in finance who pays the procuration fee within 24 hours of completion.

In 2003, when we decided to offer a mortgage network, we recruited Pam Hawkins and a number of her colleagues from the Tenet Group and to this day I still have lenders commenting that they knew we were serious when Hawkins joined us. Maybe it is a flaw in my personality but I am serious about compliance.

The mortgage desk at Pink Home Loans has long been the jewel in our crown. It provides information about Pink&#39s range of products and lender criteria to assist intermediaries select the most appropriate product for the borrower.

We listen to customers and one of the most popular requests from intermediaries is to speak to the same people each time they call. We have completed the last stage of integrating our sales and service teams into three regional teams. We have negotiated service enhancements from our lending partners.

We are able to offer four-hour decision-in-principle facilities for seven of the lenders we package for. Branded lending has also allowed us to take more control of the front-end process. Lender underwriters are based in our offices so mortgage offers can be processed in house and, for some product ranges, completions take place on site as well.

Intermediaries will need to ask certain questions when they are looking to join a network. Key questions should centre around the financial strength and backing of the network and make-up of the board and senior management team. Also important is whether the network is going to be around for the long term and if it is offering to build business partnerships with its appointed representative members.

David Copland is sales and marketing director at Pink Home Loans

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