Vida Homeloans is the specialist mortgage lender for residential and buy to let customers who may not fit the criteria currently demanded by high street banks, such as the self-employed, customers with multiple jobs, first time buyers, expats and buy to let investors. Vida uses the latest financial technology to support and inform human underwriting decisions.
Vida’s criteria-driven lending proposition has made a positive impact on the mortgage market, with 12,000 registered intermediaries, 8,000 customers and £1.6 billion in mortgage completions since launch in October 2016. Vida has also completed four securitisations worth £1.5 billion and has received twenty-two industry awards.
We speak to director of sales, Louisa Sedgwick:
What is the best thing about being in the specialist finance business?
Without wanting to sound cheesy – it’s recognising the fact that you can support more people in realising their dream of owning or renting their own home. We do as an industry need to engage in more education for customers, so even if they are turned down by the high street, for any number of reasons, all is not lost, there may be another alternative. Before we formally launched Vida, we spent lots of time looking at customers’ circumstances and seeing how we could build mortgage solutions to fit their needs. Every mortgage application tells a story and whether somebody is self-employed, a business owner or a contractor with a short work history, everyone has unique and individual circumstances and deserve to be given a chance at achieving home ownership.
What keeps you focused?
Speaking for myself, I love being part of the mortgage industry, I get a great buzz from the people that I meet, they help me understand why after so many years, I am still as passionate as I was when I first joined Mortgage Express as a BDM. What also keeps my interest is the fact that Vida and other specialist lenders can make a huge difference to the quality of people’s lives, through giving them the opportunity of owning a home.
What qualities do you look for in your employees or colleagues?
Passion, enthusiasm, tenacity, honesty, knowledge and a great sense of humour – they need one working with me – I think I am the funniest person I know, not everyone agrees – but that doesn’t matter!
Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
I am an eternal (annoying) optimist – I have my own saying – when things seem really bad - I ask myself ‘so what’s good about this’ you can guarantee there is always something!
What did you want to be as a child?
A policewoman – I think I would have been awesome, however at 5ft 2ins they didn’t make uniforms small enough! They later changed the rules so there was no minimum height, however by that point I was wedded to Financial Services (and a mortgage)!
What will be the greatest challenge facing the specialist finance industry in the coming months?
The uncertainty of the political situation is still hanging over the UK and as such that does knock consumer confidence, however it does feel that house movers won’t wait for complete certainty as the timeframes of this are so unknown. After all, people still need somewhere to live. As far as what’s on the agenda for the Buy to Let sector, I think we are still in a period of flux. Despite the implementation of the tax changes for landlords three years ago, not all have made fixed long-term plans on whether their rental properties remain sustainable. I think we still have another six to eight months before we start to see a full picture of the effects of the changes. Undoubtedly, we will see landlords diversifying their portfolios, looking at HMOs, MUBs, Holiday Lets and semi commercial, where they can potentially gain better returns.
As far as the residential specialist world is concerned, there is now so much choice for customers when it comes to products to facilitate their property purchase or indeed remortgage, and given the changing dynamic of today’s consumers, specialist lenders have really adapted to support modern borrowers’ needs, and as an industry we now need to make sure they know!
As far as the greatest challenge/opportunity that all lenders and intermediaries share, it is the evolution (no it’s not revolutionary) of technology and how that will potentially change the customer journey, to support their ever changing needs.The industry as a whole needs to come together to embrace the new advances, rather than battle against each other – if we don’t join together the costs will sky rocket and tech providers will win!
I am a bit of a ‘bloke’ when it comes to comedy – I find toilet humour hilarious. I also never fail to laugh at Michael McIntyre, in particular the ‘Five Spice’ sketch – very clean and very funny.
Do you dread Monday mornings?
The 05:59 train from York to Staines! Or more specifically the 04:40 alarm call. Once I arrive at Head Office Mondays are great, it’s the getting there that I dread.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would have longer legs – I would love to be able to see what I have stored (probably since moving house) on the top shelves of my kitchen cupboards – there is probably another family up there that I haven’t yet met!
With whom would you most like to have dinner?
My dad, he passed away 19 years ago, it would be good to hear what he has been up to!