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Shout it from the Rooftop

Despite recent criticism of mortgage packagers, Rooftop Mortgages is achieving 80m completions a month as a specialist lender creating exclusive deals with packagers and believes it has plenty of opportunities to expand, says Andrea Tryphonides.

Some have predicted the demise of the packag- ing market but Rooftop Mortgages, which creates exclusive deals with packagers, continues to thrive.

Its success lies in the backing of its wealthy US parent Bear Stearns, with $48.8bn in total capital, as well as Rooftop’s established relationships with packagers.

Bear Stearns turned its minority stake in Rooftop into a majority holding last September. It initially provided working capital to Rooftop at the time of its establishment in 2003, when Crown Mortgage Management was the principal stakeholder.

Most recently, Bear Stearns acquired UK mortgage broker Essex & Capital Mortgages Corporation, to which Rooftop previously provided loans. The single-tie agreement is set to increase Essex & Capital’s business from around 300m to 1.2bn a year. For Rooftop, this has been an opportunity to increase business in the South, where it has focused its non-conforming lending through packagers.

Bear Stearns will not comment on any further acquisitions it has planned in the UK, but it maintains it is always looking at strategic opportunities and has plans to build a strong European business.

It would seem that Rooftop has no intention of becoming complacent in an increasingly competitive arena. Sales and marketing director Alison Beech says: “We would hit new business targets even if we stayed focused in the South but we are particularly keen to get our name out there beyond London and the South-east.”

Rooftop has expanded its product range with a series of right-to-buy schemes and for the first time it will be lending in Scotland.

Its launch in Scotland has come with a special offer of no higher lending charges, which has been running throughout May on its stepped maxi-light product. Rooftop has also created new light and medium buy-to-let products with no requirement for the applicant to prove rental income.

It sponsored Mortgage Expo in Manchester last week, which it hopes will help raise awareness of its products among mortgage intermediaries in the North.

Coinciding with Mortgage Expo is the launch of its new website for mortgage intermediaries and packagers.

Rooftop has seen its packaging panel of 18 expand to 24 with its inclusion in the Regulatory Alliance of Mortgage Packagers’ lending panel. Although it already has successful relationships with several Ramp members, it is an opportunity to market its non-conforming products to others but Beech does not envisage going beyond 25 packager relationships this year.

Rooftop has a range of products which aim to meet the needs of an estimated 50,000 borrowers each month who find difficulty in arranging a mortgage via a high-street lender. It has a staff of 30 with 500m of mortgages written so far and it hopes to double the amount of completions each month from 80m and to double overall business volumes by the end of the year.

In an industry dominated by men at senior level, Rooftop has just one man on its senior managing panel – managing director Jonathan Naylor. Beech heads sales and marketing, while Linda Williams is understood to be joining from The Mortgage Operation as operations director from June 1 with Sue Colquhoun joining from Kensington Mortgages as compliance director on July 4.

Beech says: “It certainly was not the objective to have a senior board mainly of women but what I can say is that Jonathan has given us a great opportunity. It is certainly very rare to have a senior panel of nearly all women in this industry.”

Some would argue that dealing with packagers is a tricky business at the moment. The packaging community has received a lot of criticism from some of the more outspoken members of the mortgage industry and regulation has inevitably caused some fallout and consolidation.

But Beech does not believe Rooftop will be adversely affected. She says: “There are three types of lender – the ones who do not use packagers, the ones who say they use packagers but really do not have the commitment and those lenders who truly are committed.”

She agrees with Mortgages plc sales and marketing dir- ector Peter Beaumont’s view that consolidation will result in 20 super-packagers but she firmly believes there is also room for the smaller niche packager to survive.

She says: “There is defin- itely a degree of fragility and we do not want to put all our eggs in one basket but we are committed as a specialist lender and to packagers. Despite the work we do with the so-called super-packagers, we get a good, solid flow of business from the packagers and we are optimistic about doing business with those both big and small.”

Although there are no plans for the firm to diversify yet, Beech says Rooftop’s eyes are not closed to other opportunities such as expanding into business-to-consumer operations in the future.

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