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Stonebridge reveals continued growth at 2024 National Conference

Stonebridge, the national mortgage and insurance network, has announced continued growth in advisers, mortgage application and completion numbers, plus protection and GI policies throughout 2023 at its recent National Conference.

At the conference, held at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole on the 26th February, Stonebridge’s Business Partnership Director, Jo Carrasco, shared the network results for the last year, which included significant and continued growth in adviser numbers, up from 1,055 at the end of 2022 to 1,166 advisers at the end of 2023.

Empowering the network

During 2023, Stonebridge generated 14% more mortgage applications than in 2022, with the volume of lending up by 9%.

41% of applications were for purchases, down from 48% in 2022, with 12% of applications being buy-to-let – down from 15% in the prior year. Product transfer business increased, up to 35% of all cases, from 24% the year previously.

In terms of mortgage application completions, 2023 saw Stonebridge’s volume of lending down 2% on the previous year, with total lending volume at £12.4bn.

Stonebridge reminded members and guests that this showed the network had outperformed the mortgage market by some distance to achieve its £12.4bn of lending, given gross mortgage lending had fallen by 28% year-on-year, according to UK Finance.

Stonebridge said 2023 had been a challenging year with extraordinary challenges for brokers, but another good year in terms of growth and trading results.

In the protection sector, over 25,000 customers arranged life policies via the network’s advisers in 2023, while in GI, the average commission value by application had grown by 13%, and completions up by 34%.

Recognition and celebration

The conference, designed to support Stonebridge Appointed Representative (AR) firms, was once again the largest in the mortgage network’s history, with over 525 attendees – many for their first Stonebridge conference.

With a message of, ‘Experience. Insight. Growth’, a range of presentation and panel sessions focused on product sector opportunities available to Stonebridge ARs, covering protection, later life lending, surveying, and specialist lending.

The Conference also had over 50 lender, provider and other support service businesses in attendance, exhibiting to delegates.

Following the conference, Stonebridge held its annual dinner and award ceremony recognising a wide range of AR firms for excellence in 2023, with special guest host, comedian, Jimmy Carr.

Rob Clifford, Chief Executive of Stonebridge, commented:

 “Everyone active in the mortgage and protection advice space will be acutely aware of the challenging conditions the sector faced during 2023, and the rollercoaster broker firms endured during the course of those 12 months.

“Particularly in that context, we were very pleased to announce a strong set of results for the network, which is down to the excellence of the member firms across our business, their ability to identify the opportunities that exist and to make the most of them, while also providing their customers with the best possible outcomes.

“In the mortgage industry we all know there was a significant drop in new lending year-on-year, however our own total lending volumes were only marginally below the 2022 outturn, as we significantly increased our adviser numbers, improved our mortgage application numbers plus continued to see strong performance in protection and GI business.

“Our Conference highlighted that 2024 has the potential to be a much more positive year for advisers, and their customers, as we have already seen in January which kicked the year off at some pace.

“However, some challenges still remain – whilst the number of mortgage pricing changes may well recede, given the likely Election in 2024 which will have an impact, plus other geopolitical factors, these factors have the is capacity to weigh heavily on the UK economy.

“That said, as many of our Conference speakers outlined, opportunities abound, and there are positives in terms of falling inflation, the anticipation of bank base rate falling multiple times in the second half, potentially positive Budget announcements, and a greater degree of consumer confidence.

“Certainly, we at Stonebridge have no intention of slowing up in terms of our investment in technology and people to support our AR firms, in order to help grow their proposition, and ultimately, their income.

“The Stonebridge National Conference highlighted the many benefits of being part of a well-capitalised network with the scale and ambition to continue to grow and an intention to further develop our offering. In that sense, our strategy remains the same and we believe this will continue to reap rewards for all our ARs through 2024 and beyond.”

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