Stonebridge, the mortgage and insurance network, has used its National Conference to announce its 2019 trading results across its principle product areas. Over 400 people attended the annual event held on Monday 3rd February at the East Midlands Conference Centre.
Figures for 2019 compared to 2018 across mortgages, life/protection and general insurance (GI) showed that:
- Mortgage completions nudged £8 billion for the year, a record for the business and bucking the market trend, with lending volumes up by 11%
- Despite extraordinary market conditions and a contraction in overall UK lending, Stonebridge mortgage application case numbers were up by 5% on the previous year, and by volume up 6%.
- Strong protection volumes for the network generated £16.5 million of life commissions, up by 10% on 2018.
- Finally, general insurance business completed in 2019 was up a significant 13% on 2018
In the analysis of its mortgage business, Stonebridge revealed that purchasers made up 49% of its overall mortgage submissions – this had fallen slightly from 50% in 2018 and 55% in 2017. The other 51% comprised of remortgage or product transfer business – 20% of its remortgage business was for product transfers.
Stonebridge also said that its buy-to-let business had remained steady during 2019, holding firm at 17% of its overall business submissions, the same figure as 2018. Of this buy-to-let business, purchase had increased to 24% (up from 15% in 2018), and 76% was for remortgaging.
The network said its growth, slightly ahead of forecast, reflected continuing progress in driving up income per adviser, with this figure outstripping adviser growth. Stonebridge revealed a 7.5% growth in adviser numbers over the course of 2019, with the network now having 644 individual advisers in 320 AR partner firms at the end of the year.
Stonebridge said a significant proportion of the increase in adviser numbers came from organic growth within its existing member firms, proactively supported by the network’s recruitment team, as well as AR firms joining from other networks.
Stonebridge also said that, even with a number of lenders leaving the market during the course of the year such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s Banks, it had added a number of new lenders to its panel including Gatehouse, Zephyr and five regional building societies.
Stonebridge used its National Conference to focus specifically on the ‘protection gap’, customer need and the potential regulatory risks given that the UK mortgage market leaves far more mortgage borrowers without cover, than those who take it..
The network announced a number of [confidential] plans and initiatives for 2020, designed specifically to help its advisers and AR firms achieve business growth. These included upgrades and new functionality in its Revolution system such as Dashboard reporting, new equity release capability, and the introduction of automated fee agreements and automated file checking and compliance remedies. It said it would be publishing its roadmap of Revolution development plans shortly which would outline system developments to the end of 2021.
Jo Carrasco, Business Partnerships Director at Stonebridge, commented:
“It was very pleasing to be able to announce such strong figures for 2019 across our core product areas at the Stonebridge National Conference, where we were joined by both established firms and new members, together with hugely impressive external speakers who are leaders in their field, nationally.
“Over the course of 2019 we outperformed the previous 12-month period, saw adviser and firm numbers increase, added new lenders and providers to panel, plus developed our unique Revolution system in a number of areas.
“There is no hint of us resting on our laurels as we have ambitious plans for the future and want to keep developing the Stonebridge proposition, helping our existing members grow their teams, and bring on board new AR firms that will grow and thrive within the network.
“We also wanted to ensure that focus was given to the protection opportunity that exists – 70% of all mortgage clients still don’t have any cover and Conference attendees heard how vital it has been for so many individuals who find their circumstances changed. It’s our continued aim to ensure that we provide the best support possible to ensure Stonebridge does all it can to narrow the protection gap.
“2019 ended on a high with record mortgage completions and January applications continued in the same vein. We are highly positive about the year ahead and further into the future we will continue to make sure Stonebridge provides the best products, the best technology and the best service, all under one umbrella.”