Stonebridge, the national mortgage and insurance network, has today announced results for its 2020-21 financial year having achieved record yearly lending completion figures despite the dramatic impact of the Covid pandemic for most of that trading period.
Mortgage completions were over £8.5bn for the year, up by 9% on the previous year, despite major disruptions to the housing market particularly the national lockdowns during Q1 of the financial year.
March 2021 lending completion figures alone were over £1bn, a 79% year-on-year increase while mortgage application figures for the month were 20% up on the prior year.
In the analysis of its mortgage business, Stonebridge reported that – for the first three months of 2021 – purchasers made up 57% of its overall mortgage applications, compared to remortgaging at 43%. This compares to a 49% purchase/51% remortgage breakdown for 2020 as a whole.
Stonebridge said its AR firms were continuing to maximise the opportunities presented by buoyant mortgage market conditions with the stamp duty holiday extension providing a further catalyst to borrower demand. It said April 2021 had been as strong as March for both completions and applications.
Stonebridge also announced another robust performance in terms of adviser growth. At the end of March, the network had grown to 829 RIs across 412 firms – an annual increase of 18%, which it said compared favourably with its peer group.
It said the growth was a combination of internal recruitment by individual AR firms over the course of the year and the work of its recruitment team in bringing in new broker firms to the network.
Stonebridge said its ambition to continue carefully and consistently growing the network continued and that it has 124 advisers pending authorisation to join, and many more expressing interest and due to attend the induction process.
As a result of its continued adviser growth, Stonebridge said it had increased staffing levels and added additional resource across every department through the year, increasing its headcount at Head Office by 24, plus a variety of new field-based and home-based roles across the UK: with a major commitment to continue growing the network’s infrastructure and management.
Rob Clifford, Chief Executive of Stonebridge, commented:
“Given how the financial year started for the housing and mortgage market back in April last year, to have posted these excellent results, particularly for mortgage lending and growth of the business, is very satisfying and is testament to the quality of our AR firms and those of the entire Stonebridge team.
“To say the last 12 months has been challenging would be an understatement, and while our Head Office is again open – and we have made a considerable investment in turning it from a traditional office to a more collaborative space – most Stonebridge staff are still working remotely by choice.
“I am incredibly proud of the way they have handled their work responsibilities, this pandemic and their continued commitment to supporting our AR firms throughout it.
“Once the housing market reopened in mid-May last year, activity levels took off and it more than made up for the fallow period, with completion levels and applications being particularly strong.
“As a result of that ongoing demand, our existing AR firms have been able to grow, bringing on more advisers themselves, and we continue to focus heavily on recruitment to the network. This has meant the number of RIs is at record levels – 18% up on the previous year.
“We know we have to match that growth with resource – both human and otherwise – which is why we have recruited across many departments, and will continue to do so, in order to make sure we provide firms with a quality service, market-leading technology via Revolution, and continued access to the best product and service opportunities as possible.
“Overall, and in particular because this has been a year like no other, I must say a huge thank you to all AR firms, all our lenders and provider partners, and all Stonebridge team. It has been tough for all at times but everyone responded magnificently to these trying times, and rose to the occasion.”