It recently came to the attention of the very nice people at Trinity that I had celebrated my 35th anniversary with Nationwide Building Society.
After working in the industry for so long, they asked for my thoughts on the market and how it has changed in that time for intermediaries.
It goes without saying that many things have changed in the market but for me, there are three key areas that point to where we might be heading in the future since I first moved into the intermediary side of the industry in 2000 as a business development manager.
The first is technology. In my first days at Nationwide, we only had one computer in the office and even when I moved to work with intermediaries at the end of the last century all applications were submitted on paper.
Reinputting and finding missing information was the order of the day and having the ability to read some interesting handwriting styles were key skills. Fast forward to today we are on the cusp of another revolution in technology, with digital changes, AI and automation looking to fundamentally change how we transact business again.
The second point that struck me has been the sustainability of the intermediary model and the firms that operate within the market place. Some of the names have changed, there have been mergers and other firms have falling by the wayside, but the model has proven to be remarkably robust.
Many businesses can still trace their roots back to the last century despite the crash of 2008 and multiple changes in regulation since. On the other side of the coin, lenders have come and gone but there are still a handful of major names recognisable over the last 20 years, supported by a long tail of smaller lenders of both a mainstream and specialist nature. This provides for a very dynamic and competitive market which must be good for the customer.
The final point has been the rise, fall and rise again of specialist lending, with a charge in more flexible lending playing a major part in the growth of the 21st-century mortgage market.
The most remarkable part of this has been the rise of buy to let lending. Late in the last century, there was virtually no lending to private individuals outside of business lending by banks. However, over the last two decades, we have seen a huge rise in this type of lending, creating an investment opportunity for landlords, whilst at the same time changing the face of housing tenure in a way not seen since the 1980s.
We now have nearly 20 per cent of all households living in private rented accommodation, nearly 20 years ago, which represents both a major change in lending opportunities and at the same time a major social change.
I suspect if I was to look back in another 35 years’ time at how the industry has changed, technology, the digital age and disruptors will make for a very different look to the industry. But I have my suspicions that some familiar names would still be around.
Adrian is the Corporate Account Manager at Nationwide Building Society.