All-in-one home buying service looks to IFAs for growth

All-in-one home buying service looks to IFAs for growth
Christina Melling, Stipendium co-founder and former propositions head at north west IFA Cheetham Jackson

All-in-one home buying service Stipendium is looking to grow its offering among IFAs and their clients.

The service, which can be redeemed via a gift card, organises everything from finding a house, setting up a mortgage appointment, through to the conveyancing, electric, and a takeaway on the first day of move in.

Stipendium was co-founded by Christina Melling, former propositions head at north west IFA Cheetham Jackson, alongside John Bohan, a Marks & Spencer’s ex-sales head who went on to set up gift card provider Jigsaw.

The first product it launched was called ‘Merge’. Costed at £395, it covers every step of administration, from mortgage to move-in - though conveyancing surveys and mortgage advice are additional costs.

Stipendium has partnered with Mortgage Advice Bureau, meaning every time a customer books a mortgage broker appointment, it will be with one in this network.

Clients can buy the service themselves, gift it, or be rewarded with it by way of an employee benefit. The service also sits on Rightmove.

Melling is keen to broaden the product out to more IFAs, as she has often found that not all - in fact many - financial advisers who are asked by their clients to do their mortgage are not CeMap qualified.

“I’m thinking about linking this service to financial advisers as part of their proposition,” Melling explained. 

Be that clients in retirement looking to gift their money to children or grandchildren, a couple planning for the future, or a first-time buyer - Melling reckons there’s an opportunity to gain referral business through IFAs.

Advisers will get £150 for each one they sell. “It works a lot like a protection policy, except there’s no clawback.”

It also avoids the need for an IFA’s client to outsource to a mortgage adviser. “Advisers are constantly being asked for mortgage and remortgage help,” said Melling.

With the trend of more advice firms going into big employers now and offering corporate advice during lunch breaks, Melling said one significant route to market will be through companies to reach younger demographics. “It’s an ever increasing proposition, corporates post-Covid are investing more in employee benefits.”

A step-by-step service

But as well as filling a gap in the IFA market, more generally Melling and her co-founder wanted to completely overhaul the experience homebuyers have.

Rather than just creating a product with links to white label third-party portals, Melling has also taken the time to add exhaustive glossaries, frequently asked questions tabs, check lists, and ‘what to look out for’ warnings throughout the step-by-step process.

“These processes were all disjointed,” said Melling. “We’re taking them apart, putting them back together and making them more accessible. The gift card works like a digital currency, and the service aims to save consumers money on the complete house buying journey, at the same time as trying to educate the house buyer.”