Firing line  

Firing Line: Northview's Craig McKinlay

Firing Line: Northview's Craig McKinlay

Kensington Mortgages has a long history of lending to people with poor credit histories. But one area that it now wants to be equally known for is complex lending.

According to Craig McKinlay, sales and marketing director of Kensington’s parent company Northview Group, complex lending stretches far beyond those with adverse credit.

Self-employed individuals are among the types of complex borrowers the mortgage lender wants to target. There are roughly 4.7m people in the UK who are registered as self-employed, and this number is rising.

Mr McKinlay said: “We are known for looking to say yes to customers. We have a real strength in working with customers who do not fit the credit criteria in the high street. What I would also like us to be known for is operating in other niches, which is more to do with complex incomes.”

This move by Kensington forms part of the company’s plans to broaden its proposition. One of the ways it will do this is by working with more networks and creating bespoke propositions.

“We will pay closer attention to the different types of mortgage networks and clubs, and how we can come up with more bespoke propositions for them,” Mr McKinlay said.

“There are other niches we can look at and we need to increase our distribution. We are only in England and Wales at the moment.”

Kensington has been in the specialist lending space for more than 20 years and it has survived two recessions, despite operating at the riskier end of the lending spectrum. This “resilience” is one of the things that attracted Mr McKinlay to the role, which he took up in October. Northview’s other subsidiary is intermediary-only, buy-to-let specialist New Street Mortgages. He was previously the commercial and channels director at Lloyds Banking Group, responsible for analytics, pricing, customer experience, business development and channel engagement across retail and commercial banking.

Mr McKinlay’s role at Northview is heavily geared towards speaking to brokers and getting real-time feedback on how the market is performing. “We have a multi-niche strategy and we try to play in the niches that do not fit the high street,” he said. 

“That is where we look to pick up business by looking at complex underwriting and using human underwriters. A lot of the high street is a manufactured process now – if you kind of fit into the box, which a lot of people don’t. That’s where specialist lenders come in.”

Complex customers

Another group that fits into this pot of complex customers are contractors. Mr McKinlay said: “The specialist market has grown quite fast as high street lenders are getting more automated, which is great if you cover standard cases. But there are lots of people who fall outside of that process.”

This is one of the main reasons why Kensington will continue to distribute its products through brokers, the director stressed. Another reason is to balance the perceived risk attached to those who have complex credit histories with getting the right customer on Kensington’s portfolio.