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Knight and Finegold – the mortgage market’s dream team

What with the gloomy market conditions and several mortgage commentators solemnly forecasting the demise of a number of lenders in the coming months, it is nice to have some positive news.

This came earlier this week with the announcement of mortgage guru Stephen Knight’s plans for his new lending vehicle Checkmate Mortgages.

The former GMAC-RFC chairman has teamed up with Kensington founder Martin Finegold to create the ultimate mortgage dream team.

With two of the most respected businessmen in the mortgage industry, I am sure rival lenders will be quaking in their boots in anticipation of what these two will come up with. In contrast, brokers will be keenly awaiting what much needed innovations Knight and Finegold will introduce to the UK mortgage market.

In an exclusive TV interview with Money Marketing, Knight admitted that he would be approaching former GMAC managing director of operations Barry Searle – following his resignation from the lender – to see if he would be interested in joining Checkmate Mortgages.

Knight also put a halt to rumours that GMAC sales and marketing director Godfrey Blight would also be joining him. He said: “Godfrey Blight is a very old personal friend of mine and I happen to know he is very happy at GMAC and he’s going to stay there.”

Knight also said that he will be launching two new lenders aimed at being operation on October 1. He told MM that one would focus exclusively on the packager channel and the other just on the intermediary channel.

He says that Checkmate Mortgages will offer products across the full range from mainstream to niche to non-conforming but that it will not necessarily offer them in the same form as they are in today.

“We believe everybody offers the same type of products and they differentiate on niches of criteria or interest rates or loan to values. We believe there’s so much more blending possible in the current approach to product design so we’re going to rip up that rule book. When we get nearer to the launch you will find some products from us that aren’t available today.”

In addition to Checkmate Mortgages, another new player was set to snap on the heels of existing lenders in the mortgage market. Merrill Lynch was set to launch a new lender called Concert Mortgages although it has emerged that Abbey has pulled out of the joint venture citing the current difficult market conditions.

With Merrill Lynch already having both Mortgages Plc and Wave under its stable it will be interesting to see whether it will try and find another lender to step in Abbey’s shoes.

The launch of Knight’s Checkmate Mortgages is undoubtedly going to see some new innovation being introduced into the market but will Merrill Lynch be interested to do the same? Or will Concert Mortgages be put to bed before it even started?

Other news has seen the first UK sub-prime victim Victoria Mortgages look set for a revival. There have been rumours persisting in the market ever since it announced that it would be entering administration that it already had potential buyers circling it.

Whilst Credit Suisse has been suggested as one of the interested parties, many may see Knight’s announcement that he was interested in making acquisitions as extremely timely.


Death on denial

The recent announcement from Legal & General that it was looking to enlist the help of The Samaritans in training its tele staff certainly caught my eye . It struck me that perhaps once they are through with L&G they could lend a hand in the mortgage industry too, where shortly we will see a suicide watch list emerge.

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Northern Rock to cut the number of its mortgage products by over two thirds

Northern Rock is set to have its number of products cut by over two thirds in its first product change since its funding crisis.The lender has removed all of its one and a half year fixed rates from its Together and flexible fixed-rates range.Its changes also see it withdraw its three year fixed-rate and variable […]


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