I look back on the year with a huge amount of pride at the way our team at Pepper Money has risen to the challenges in front of us – from continuing to support brokers throughout the most uncertain of times at the start of the pandemic, through to consistently maintaining our 24-hour service levels.
Today, Covid is probably the most-used word in our language, but back in March it was still relatively unknown and the speed of change to which we all needed to adapt was exceptional.
In mid-March, the Chancellor announced a series of initiatives to aid struggling mortgage customers, which included payment holidays, and by the end of April, one in seven of all mortgages were covered by the scheme. Achieving this in just a few weeks required a monumental effort and vast operational changes to facilitate the requests – and I’m very grateful to our team who were not only able to deliver this, but also continue to provide ongoing support to our brokers.
We remained open for new business throughout the first lockdown, and while we naturally adjusted our criteria and risk appetite in line with the uncertain environment, we continued to develop our proposition in response to broker demand. An example of this came in the summer when we launched our Pepper Light mortgage range available to customers with defaults, missed payments or arrears, but no CCJs.
Later in the summer Pepper Money completed two securitisations, worth a total of £629m, including first and second charge mortgages originated by Pepper Money and Optimum Credit. The success of these securitisations provided a solid foundation on which we could continue to grow our lending volumes and we launched a programme of ongoing improvements to our service proposition and products – enhancing criteria and cutting rates where possible.
The developments to our service were particularly notable as in the latter part of the year, with the market creaking under high volumes, many lenders were experiencing long delays. At Pepper Money, however, we were able to maintain our 24-hour service levels at every key stage of the application process and we strengthened proposition with the introduction of dedicated Case Owners and the ability for brokers to instruct their own valuations.
We also bolstered our website throughout the year, with new features such as affordability calculators, Product Finder and up-to-date service information. As a result of all of these service improvements, we were able to record our fastest ever completion, in just 16 days from the initial application.
Amidst all of this, we also published two waves of our ground-breaking Adverse Credit Study, which has received high profile attention in the national press, raising awareness and understanding of customers with missed credit payments and stimulating conversations about the importance of professional advice.
With a roll-out of vaccinations now underway, we can now look forward to 2021 with some hope of emerging from the pandemic and the economic downturn. We know that more customers will have diverse financial circumstances such as irregular employment and missed payments and you can be confident that Pepper Money will be here to enable those customers access to the mortgage market. We will continue to evolve our product our service proposition and we will continue to meet the changing needs of you and your customers.
We look forward to working with you in 2021. Until then we hope you have an enjoyable and peaceful festive season.
Paul Adams, Sales Director at Pepper Money