"We are hopeful that the stamp duty incentive will keep both the housing and mortgage market moving, and we would encourage brokers to continue to have a positive outlook."
We spoke to Becky Poole, marketing manager at Tipton Building Society, about how Tipton weathered the Covid-19 storm and how the pandemic will continue to affect the mortgage market into 2021.
FR: Tipton continued to lend throughout the Covid-19 crisis – tell us a bit about the Society’s experiences during lockdown.
While the Society experienced the same challenges as other lenders, it was imperative that we continued lending, while also supporting our existing members. Like many other lenders, The Tipton were quick to adapt to changes as a result of Covid-19. The Society received a large number of requests from our customers for payment holidays, which required us to have staff in other departments help our mortgage department. Whilst the market showed a huge reduction in the number of lenders offering high LTV mortgages, we continued to have our 100% LTV Family Assist mortgage available, and also introduced a more flexible version of the product.
FR: How has the outbreak affected the Society and what will be different going forward?
Pre-Covid, it was rare that staff would work away from the office. The outbreak meant that it was no longer possible for everyone to continue to work in the same building. The Society reacted quickly to enable some staff to be able to work from home, without compromising the service we offered our customers. Like many other lenders we reduced the opening hours at some of our branches, however I am pleased to say that we were one of the first lenders to fully re-open our branches. Going forward, it is likely that the society will adopt more flexibility with staff as to how and where they are working.
FR: How has your role been impacted by Covid-19 and what has a typical day looked like over the past few months?
Over the past few months we have all been forced to work differently. My typical day now entails me walking our dog first thing, then I get set up for work in my dining room or spare bedroom. I’ve been having regular catch up calls and zoom meeting with the rest of the Marketing Department and Microsoft Teams has become our new best friend!
FR: How will Covid-19 continue to affect the mortgage market into 2021 and beyond?
While it isn’t possible to say exactly what will happen in the mortgage market, many experts are predicting that house prices will take a dip next year. Many experts also said that house prices would drop significantly this year, whereas at present the opposite is happening. We are hopeful that the stamp duty incentive will keep both the housing and mortgage market moving, and we would encourage brokers to continue to have a positive outlook. It is a perfect opportunity for smaller lenders, like ourselves, who manually underwrite and can look at lending in niche markets to thrive.
FR: Financial Reporter held its third Women’s Recognition Awards this year - what changes would you still like to see in the industry and what advice would you give to someone starting out in financial services?
The Women’s Recognition Awards and HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter is very important to opening up the male dominated industry to create a more balanced workplace. It would be great to see more getting involved and actively looking to create a more diverse workforce.
My advice to anyone starting out in the financial services industry is to build positive relationships with those around you and don’t be scared to challenge ideas – but only when necessary!
FR: If you could see one headline about the financial services in 2020, what would it be?
'The Unsung Heroes: How Financial Services Worked to Keep the Country Going'.