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Long-term focus lifts Woolwich

Woolwich has attributed the huge increase in its share of new mortgage business to its focus on long-term products.

In an interview with Money Marketing, Woolwich head of mortgages Andy Gray says the rapid growth has come about after a three-year strategy that has not been diverted by the credit crunch.

In its half-year results, this week, Barclays revealed its share of net new mortgage business for the first half of 2008 was 26 per cent, up from 6 per cent the previous year.

Its plan centred on offering more long-term products as opposed to two-year fixed rates. Gray says: “Three years ago, we were not where we wanted to be, so we chose to concentrate on longevity. No one knew the problems in the credit market would ever be this bad but we believed in our focus and it was right for us and continues to be.”

Gray says Woolwich is now one of the leading providers of lifetime trackers, offset mortgages and long-term fixed-rate deals, with brokers account- ing for a significant amount of this business.

He adds that Woolwich has also been concentrating on its retention strategy, saying: “We are very different from other lenders. We have focused heavily on remortgages and now our share retention levels are at 4.9 percent.”

Woolwich has been criticised recently by brokers for dual-pricing and currently both its offset tracker and lifetime tracker benefit from no early repayment charges if borrowed straight from the lender.

Gray says: “We are trying to bring down the differentials but to maintain our propo-sition we must price accordingly. As things begin to equalise, I would like to think we can offer the same proposition across the board.”


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