"We are involving brokers and landlord feedback to help us develop and shape our proposition, the aim being to improve their experience when working with Paragon."
We spoke to Matt Fulford, operations manager at Paragon Bank, about landlords’ performance during the pandemic and why underwriting can be a misunderstood part of the mortgage application process.
FR: Firstly, can you please tell us a bit about your role?
I’d summarise my role in three words: ‘lending money responsibly’. I deal directly with a large number of our key intermediary partners and with our landlords, this is from new enquiry, throughout the underwriting process until the day of completion. I believe meaningful conversations and listening to what brokers and landlords need remain at the heart of providing the great service our customers expect. So, please pick up the phone if you ever want a chat!
FR: Underwriting can be a misunderstood part of the mortgage application process – can you please explain Paragon’s approach to underwriting and why it is an important function?
Paragon are a specialist lender who primarily deal with portfolio landlords, this can include lending on corporate structures and on complex properties. It’s certainly not a ‘tick box’ approach and each application is considered on its own merits. We look to get a full understanding of the customer, their business interests, and the performance of their existing property portfolio. Paragon are fortunate to have a team of in-house regional surveyors and their specialist knowledge of their local markets is key to our underwriting proposition. During the underwriting process we are initially trying to get comfort with the deal we are presented with, but secondly, we are looking to build a long-term relationship with the landlord.
FR: Are there any exciting projects you are currently working on?
Following a year when Paragon achieved a record high pipeline of mortgage applications, we are undertaking an exciting transformational project in order to grow this success. What we have works well, but it’s great to have the opportunity to review the end to end process. We are involving brokers and landlord feedback to help us develop and shape our proposition, the aim being to improve their experience when working with Paragon. Whilst we acknowledge technology is key within this work, we equally recognise our people and the human touch is also crucial.
FR: What is the best thing about your role?
Finding solutions - although my role is now within credit, my background includes a number of years within sales. I will always look for reasons to lend to a customer. There is nothing more satisfying that supporting a landlord’s business and over time seeing it grow to become a successful portfolio.
FR: What are the challenges?
Aston Villa keeping hold of Jack Grealish next season is worrying me at the moment, particularly if he plays a part in a successful Euro 21 campaign for England this Summer. From a work perspective, the last 12 months have been tough for everyone and it’s really good to see how robust our industry has been. I don’t think it’s any understatement to say that our landlords’ performance during the pandemic has been up there with the likes of Amazon and Deliveroo!