"Considering the disparity between the size of the residential mortgage market and the later life lending sector, I think the sky is the limit."
Recently, Mortgage Advice Bureau and Key Group launched MAB Later Life. Ben Thompson, deputy CEO at MAB, and Will Hale, CEO at Key, join us to discuss more about this deal.
FR: So, how does this deal work exactly?
Ben Thompson (BT): The later life lending market is really exciting at the moment and represents a natural extension of the services and support which MAB provides to its advisers and customers. This new relationship will see selected MAB brokers become appointed representatives (ARs) of Key Group. Key will provide access to a panel of leading later life lenders as well as compliance, marketing and technical support including access to Key’s advice delivery platform.
FR: You did a small pilot and are now extending it, what is the thinking behind this?
Will Hale (WH): As a new initiative we wanted to start with a small group of engaged and really motivated individuals who can help us to shape the proposition. We are really pleased as the feedback has been great, we are building up a good pipeline of business and recently saw the first completion.
FR: Why has MAB decided to become involved in the later life market?
BT: The UK population is rapidly growing and ageing, and we found that when certain customers came to us for support, we were not able to help as much as we wanted to. This relationship means we can offer customers access to a wider range of product options from retirement interest-only (RIOs) mortgages to later life mortgages and equity release. There is a huge amount of opportunity in this sector and this relationship with Key Group means our offering is backed up by their compliance and technical support which is really important.
FR: As part of the launch, you mention a digital advice delivery platform. What is this and why is it any different from what other brokers use?
WH: We unveiled our digital advice delivery platform internally at the end of 2019 and we have been continuing to develop it since then. It touches every aspect of the advice process, from fact find through to product research and recommendation, and builds on the 20 plus years of experience Key Group has in this market to ensure that there is consistency in the advice quality and the outcomes delivered for customers. And the advisers also like it as it uses technology to reduce admin time which means more time with customers.
FR: You said that MAB also offers retirement interest-only mortgages as well as later life mortgages. How will this work with the deal that you have signed with Key Group?
BT: I think this is really complementary as a customer can now speak to MAB advisers safe in the knowledge that if they need to borrow in later life, we can support them with a variety of different product options, all under this one new proposition. The FCA rightly made clear that all options should be discussed and fully considered with customers and that is what we’re offering.
FR: Key already has over 150 advisers operating in the market providing advice on whole of market products as well as its Key Equity Release products. Why have you decided to partner with MAB as is this not competition?
WH: Key Group is committed to growing the market so it makes sense to work with a well-respected name like MAB to develop their offering and to access new pools of advisers and customers. The scale of the opportunity is huge if you consider that in Q2 2020, we saw £44 billion worth of residential property loans to individuals and around £700m worth of borrowing in the equity release market. If even a tenth of that residential lending is to over-55s who may eventually want to consider their later life borrowing options, the current number of advisers operating in this market would struggle to cope. Growing the market and thereby helping more customers to access their housing wealth to enjoy a better retirement requires fresh thinking and genuine innovation. Working in partnership, Key Group and MAB are well placed to do just that and this is an important step on this journey.”
FR: MAB Later Life advisers can choose from a panel of lenders including more2life. Why have you decided not to offer whole of market advice?
BT: With over 150 products from well-respected lenders including more2life, we believe that we will be in a position to meet the vast majority of customer needs and if this isn’t the case, they will be offered whole of market advice. It is a win-win for our customers and made commercial sense as we can negotiate exclusives and other special terms for advisers and of course for their customers.
FR: Following the successful pilot, you’ve said you will roll this service out to the wider MAB network and interested advisers across the market. How will this work?
WH: Currently we are working with the MAB team to identify advisers within their group who are keen to become involved. It is a great opportunity and it’s encouraging to see the level of interest from advisers who want to specialise in this sector of the market.
BT: Yes, people have been very enthusiastic, and we are certainly open to conversations with other advisers currently outside of MAB who might also want to become part of MAB Later Life.
FR: What are your ambitious for the growth of this offering?
WH: Considering the disparity between the size of the residential mortgage market and the later life lending sector, I think the sky is the limit. That said, we want to see steady and sustainable growth over the next few years both in terms of the number of advisers we bring onboard and the volume of customers helped. Our focus is ensuring the highest advice standards and supporting advisers in building profitable later life lending businesses which can be easily scaled.
BT: The market has huge potential and now we have launched MAB Later Life, it is time to look at how we can make the very most of this opportunity and provide our advisers and customers with a wider range of suitable options.