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MM Profile: Paul Broadhead

Paul Broadhead 480

Like many boys, Paul Broadhead dreamed of a career as a footballer for Manchester United or life as an international rock star.

Broadhead had several brushes with musically greatness, having gone to primary school with former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher and his first performance was at the age of 10 at Free Trade Hall, where the Sex Pistols played their seminal gig in 1976.

“I used to play football with Liam Gallagher at school. We both dreamed of a career in music after it was obvious we wouldn’t be footballers. In fact, I played my first gig at the Free Trade Hall when I was 10 – although that was for the Manchester Boys Choir,” he jokes.

After leaving school, Broadhead was undecided about what he wanted to do next and so his mum suggested he apply for a role in the Halifax branch where she worked in Manchester. But Broadhead, being a young man, did not fancy the idea of working with his mum, so he applied for a different role within Halifax.

“I had never really envisaged a career in financial services. But my mum work in a Halifax brach in Manchester part-time and we had talked about whether I should do that,” he says.

“I thought I didn’t want to go somewhere where my mum worked, so I applied for a job in a different branch to my mum. I started thinking its was interesting but only ever thought of it as a temporary arrangement – I ended up staying for 11 years.”

In 2000, a few years into his “temporary” stay at Halifax, Broadhead was given the opportunity to work on a project to help adapt the lender’s IT systems to the incoming regulation of the mortgage industry.

To get an good idea of how the in-branch system should work he decided to become an adviser himself for six months.

He says: “I did my CeMAP very quickly, in around two weeks, became an adviser for six months and then went over to the head office. That role was originally for 12 months and after the project finished I was asked to stay on permanently as part of that project team. We were then asked to run the implementation of FSA mortgage regulation into Halifax and Bank of Scotland’s back office systems.”

From here, something unexpected happened. His boss at the time asked him if he wanted to go on secondment to the office of the Deputy Prime Minister to work on the implementation of Home Information Packs.

The role was meant to last six months but Broadhead ended up spending two years working on the project. In January 2006, he returned to Halifax but within two months he was approached by the Association of Home Information Pack Providers to join as deputy director general.

“It was a baptism of fire though because it was quite controversial and I was always on the defensive. There was a lot of misinformation out there about the product and it seemed like the Government did not really understand what the benefit was. When they were first designed it was about taking out lots of wasted cost.”

In November 2008, when the Government pulled the rug from under the HIP industry Broadhead joined the BSA in his current role.

He says: “At this time the BSA had just decided to set up a mortgage team, which it hadn’t had since 1997. To be given the opportunity to get back into the mortgage industry and to capitalise on my experience at the Association of HIP Providers and to set up a new team in my way ticked all of the boxes for me.”

Since he joined the BSA, the mortgage market has struggled in the face of the economic climate. The Government has had to step in to give the market a shot in the arm with the creation of the Government backed mortgage indemnity scheme, NewBuy, and the Funding for Lending scheme, which was designed to incentivise lenders to increase their lending by giving them access to cheap funding.

“What the market needs is for Funding for Lending to create competition in the areas where there isn’t competition at present. That is difficult unless the Government places requirements on lenders to put certain amounts in certain areas of the market.

“Some of the early signs we have seen are positive. But the risk is that we just see lenders use the funding for remortgage market for those with the largest deposits.

“NewBuy was never going to be market transforming and I do not think it was ever meant to be. But what it has done is give a much-needed boost to the construction industry so far, not necessarily in terms of transactions but it sends them the message that there is money to be lent on new-builds so they won’t have empty completed homes. They still need the funds to develop, of course, and they still need planning permission.”

Understanding and trying to influence regulation is a key part of his job and one proposal in particular will affect his members – the FSA’s proposed ban on non-advised mortgage sales.

“I do not think the FSA has made a strong case for doing away with non-advised sales. It says it wants to move to a fully-advised sales market because a number of consumers believe they have had advice when they have not. Okay but then let’s be clear about when we are giving advice. Non-advised sales do not necessarily lead to people picking the wrong product.”

Looking to the future, Broadhead feels the building society sector has a good future, despite a number of regulatory hurdles it might have to clear along the way.

He says: “I see growth in the building society sector, continuing on from this year. The sector has recovered well. We have seen the sector go through a lot of change and what we have seen is a leaner but stronger sector emerge in the past few years.

“We have also got a coalition Government which wants a diverse market. Plus, if you look at the Independent Commission on Banking’s proposals, they have really taken the building society sector as a blueprint for risk management. We are also seeing increase in trust from consumers and we beat the banks on every measure but one – we have far fewer complaints. People want an alternative to banks these days and we are providing a real alternative.”

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Born: Manchester

Lives: Crick, Northamptonshire

Education: St James RC High, Manchester; Aquinas College, Stockport; Institute of Financial Services

Career: 2008 – present: head of mortgage policy, Building Societies Association; 2006 – 2008: deputy director general, Association of HIP providers; 2004 – 2006: business change manager, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Secondment); 1995 – 2006: variety of operational and programme roles Halifax Building Society, Halifax plc then HBOS

Likes: Spending time with my family and for my sins following Northampton Town FC home and away!

Dislikes:  Pointless meetings, bad timekeeping and corporate jargon

Drives:  Jaguar X Type Sports

Book:  Chavs, The demonisation of the working class by Owen Jones

Film:  The Railway Children, it reminds me of the North!

Album:  The Stone Roses by The Stone Roses

Career Ambition:  To be challenged, interested and to make a difference

Life Ambition:  As we might say up North: To try owt and regret nowt, and to do it surrounded by family

If I wasn’t doing this I would be…  Running or a least propping the bar up in a Country Pub.


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