Firing Line: Jeremy Duncombe

Firing Line: Jeremy Duncombe

Jeremy Duncombe took the helm of Legal & General Mortgage Club amid a somewhat tumultuous period in the mortgage marketplace.

The market had just been through a devastating period following the financial crisis, which saw a severe contraction in business and market share for intermediaries, when the former head of sales for Abbey for Intermediaries was appointed to his current position in 2013.

In numerical terms, the 1.3m brokers-arranged mortgages in 2006 slumped to just 430,000, while direct distribution clawed back market share, according to Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association data.

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L&G was not immune to collapse of the market. While not giving figures, Mr Duncombe said the club suffered a significant dip in membership numbers following the radical decline in the number of brokers from, he estimated, around 30,000 in 2006 to between 10,000 and 12,000 in 2010.

However, things had started to look up for brokers thanks to some favourable regulatory changes. More notably, the requirement, introduced by the Mortgage Market Review, for mortgage sales staff to provide advice instead of just additional information with all of the additional qualification that requires.

Club membership numbers have subsequently rallied significantly since 2010 – rising to around 9,000 at present, according to Mr Duncombe.

He added: “Our evolution dates back further than the financial crash. We have been in operation for 21 years now, and in the first five years in existence we facilitated £10bn worth of mortgages. Now we are doing around £4bn a month.

“We have grown our pool of business partners and lenders we work with. Areas like second-charge mortgaging, conveyancing and bridging are becoming an increasingly important part of what the broker does and what we can do.”

In the post-MMR environment, the role of a mortgage club should evolve to go beyond the traditional function as aggregator, negotiator of exclusive products with lenders and attractive procuration fees, Mr Duncombe said.

He added the club has further developed its proposition to provide practical day-to-day support for brokers, such as hosting a number of regional roadshows featuring keynote speeches from the City watchdog representatives and, more recently, the launch of two conveyancing service.

Other notable developments include Mortgage Club TV, which features webinars and interviews with key figures designed to keep advisers abreast of industry developments.

In 2015, L&G announced the disbandment of its mortgage network to pursue a new strategy concentrating on distribution through directly authorised (DA) brokers. The rationale behind the move, Mr Duncombe said, was to give brokers greater autonomy over their business practices while allowing them to benefit from support offered by the club.

He added: “This was a long-term decision that we worked with our network to see through for over a two-year period. It was not about closing something down, but evolving what it looked like to make sure that it worked for our partners and us. The vast majority of people who worked in the network moved over to our partner networks such as the Mortgage Advice Bureau and Stonebridge.”