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Platform ticket

The firm is the one-stop intermediary lender of Britannia Building Society and was created from the mer-ger of Britannia subsidiar-ies Platform Home Loans and Verso.

It has brought in a new range of products, including no overhanging early repayment charges on new three-year Libor trackers and three-year fixed rates.

Managing director David Tweedy says: “We have the support of a strong parent provider, with access to funding and resources which some competitors did not have two years ago. We also have the ability to react to market change quickly, with all our IT in house and a very enthusiastic leadership team.”

Platform is aware of the flattening market this year, with lending targets for 2005 modest at 2.7bn.

With remortgages now making up 50 per cent of all new loans, Platform has seen an increased demand for cashbacks and there is a 500 cashback option across the whole of its new range. Introducer fees stay at 1 per cent.

Tweedy says everyone has to be viewed as a potential competitor. He says: “Mortgages plc, now owned by Merrill Lynch, GMAC and BM Solutions are going to be very tough competition. We have to watch everybody.”

Platform’s new range includes buy-to-let products available up to 85 per cent loan to value. These include a two, three and a five-year tracker, with rates starting from the Bank of England base rate plus 0.74 per cent. Fixed-rate loans within the buy-to-let range are available for two, three and five years at 5.59, 5.75 and 5.49 per cent respectively.

The self-certification range is also available up to 85 per cent LTV. The trackers on offer include one, two, three and five-year fixed rates from BBR plus 0.84 per cent. The self-certification fixed rates are available for two and three years at 5.69 and 5.79 per cent respectively.

Tweedy says Platform is looking at entering the second-charge market and unsecured loans as well as equity release.

The group is also looking at entering foreign markets and loans secured on third-buy properties.

Tweedy says: “We are monitoring the market. We have no burning desire for distribution deals, joint ventures or joint distribution but we are looking at what is going, keeping an eye on the plcs, the direct to consumer market and so on.”

Platform wants to create a stronger brand proposition and make better use of its customer database to give itself a more pro-active stance towards its marketing.

Tweedy believes intermediaries want better online systems, including more authorisation and online applications, and Platform is making technology a key venture this year.

He cites GMAC and BM Solutions as two lenders which have been successful in this area. BM can provide a decision in principle online at great speed while GMAC has dispensed with decisions in principle and can give a decision online within 38 seconds. Platform’s online Dip will be ready by the summer.

Tweedy, a former financial analyst, has been in the mortgage business for 17 years, 15 years of that spent at Platform. He says he was Platform’s first employee and has seen staff numbers rise and fall to its current number of 250.

He says: “We have star-ted to invest heavily in staff skills, leadership skills and development. If you have staff that are well trained and well motivated, this will reflect in the quality of work they do with mortgage inter-mediaries. Of course, this will mean that the levels of business will become cheaper and faster.”


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