The Interview…Richard Angell

Following the roll-back of Tandem Bank’s first charge offering, The Intermediary catches up with Richard Angell to find out what’s next.

Tell us about your career to date – what makes you such a good fit with financial services?

In a word: experience. I’ve been in the mortgage industry on and off since 1986, starting at a building society as a trainee manager and working through a variety of roles, heading up the Sales and Distribution function at a Bank which means I’ve learnt an awful lot along the way from some outstanding people.

I have been fortunate to have the opportunities to gain experience in different parts of the industry, with residential and buy-to-let (BTL) mainstream and specialist lenders, through to packagers, master brokers, bridging and secured lending. I’ve also been in the direct-to-consumer part of our sector, advising clients, too. It means I have built up a rounded view of what consumers, intermediaries and lenders look for.

The great thing about our industry is the ability of many people to manage change, something that other industries struggle with. It feels as if change has been the biggest constant throughout my time, whether it’s the highs and lows of the economy, or the changing requirements of consumers and intermediaries.

I did spend a short time out of the industry, working in IT. What became apparent is that when decisions are made by consumers when they want to purchase, or refinance, in the main they do this promptly. They don’t need a project group, and they weigh up the positives and negatives clearly. However, those purchasing signals are more difficult to obtain when a steering group is looking to buy software or hardware for example, a process that can take months in some cases.

Over the past two years – from launching and establishing a new lender in the UK Mortgage market – I know that securing 100% of UK distribution and embedding that brand into mortgage intermediaries minds has been a huge achievement. These are the two biggest new challenges face, and I know this something I can replicate elsewhere.

What do you particularly enjoy about the industry, and how has it changed during your time in it?

I have taken enjoyment from meeting people and the friendships I’ve made from all backgrounds and walks of life.

I’m a believer in surrounding yourself with great people who will challenge you and make you the best you can be. This can even be with individuals from competitors, and being able to lean on them for guidance when you need it is repaid when they need some advice from you.

The rise of technology has been incredible. Unfortunately, these things can’t progress as quickly as we all would like, due to legacy systems, and the cost of capital projects. But who would have thought, even a short while ago, that we would have application programming interface (API) integration, Biometrics and artificial intelligence (AI) assisting the decision making and risk profiling for lenders?

Once you leave Tandem Bank what are your longer-term plans?

Following the announcement of my forthcoming departure from Tandem Bank, my initial focus has been on helping the team find new homes. Now that the process is up and running, I am having conversations with senior leaders in lending and distribution. I have a lot of knowledge which is complementary to existing teams, and I feel that my own characteristics of collaboration and team can help businesses grow and thrive in a competitive environment.

I know that my skillset alongside my extensive list of connections will add value to any business, and alongside my extensive experience, I want to help by complementing existing structures and add value to businesses seeking to expand their presence.

Being available for new opportunities is exciting, and I want to highlight that I don’t have a new role lined up yet and would welcome the opportunity to listen to lenders’ or distributors’ plans and talk through how I can accelerate their growth.

What has been so comforting is the support and kind messages from close connections, but also people who have been competitors, and those who haven’t been necessarily close to me. I think that social media can be a double-edged sword, but I feel its been incredibly valuable to me and the team at this time, and it shows how supportive this industry is when unfortunate times hit.

How protective are you of your team – does that commitment to them continue?

I am a huge believer in teamwork. As a collective unit so much can be achieved, especially when you have trust and a consensus. If you look at sports teams, its very rare that a collection of individuals will succeed, you need a cohesive unit to be successful – I just wish Bristol City would take note of this!

When you have a talented team of individuals such as David, Mark, and Roger around you, it means there are no stripes on shoulders, and you can move quickly to meet objectives.

My commitment to my immediate team and former colleagues remains, and I’ve been working incredibly hard to help them secure new roles, which means I now feel comfortable to start my search and find myself a new home.

I have always known the power of inclusivity and recognising that people of all genders and ethnicities contribute equally. Age isn’t always the best example of knowledge and business can learn from Gen Z as equally as the Baby Boomers. I am proud that our industry better represents today’s society. There is still work to do, but the power of inclusivity is something that generates success ultimately.

How do you personally view the market currently, and what is the value of a good broker?

2023 was a tumultuous year, with the volume of rate rises causing uncertainty for lenders, brokers, and consumers. This year has been about stabilisation, and we have also seen consolidation of some lenders- especially when you look at the mainstream.

However, now that we are seeing downward pressure on interest rates, some of the challenges on affordability will hopefully ease, and we will see the return of first-time buyers as a starting point in stronger numbers.

Every broker is vital to the success of all lenders, providers, and distributors, because they make up the majority of the share of business versus direct. In other they are the best customer to have because they provide repeat business.

We need to continue to promote brokers as the experts, because clients need guidance with the complexities of products. There is more importantly in my view an onus on everyone in the industry to treat brokers fairly, or ‘TBF’ as I refer to it. It means helping brokers towards a better work-life balance by for example not changing rates outside of normal working hours or at short notice. We need to support and develop brokers and respect their expertise, and ability to feedback in real time what is happening in the market.

2024 will be a better year. We have an election this year, and regardless of your political persuasion I am hoping we will end the year with a lower base rate, greater numbers of first-time buyers, the evolution of BTL and a feeling of business as usual.

What can brokers do to maximise business over the coming year?

Collaboration and learning are my two takeaways on this question.

When there’s an opportunity to collaborate, you can drive success exponentially. I’ve seen talented individuals who thought the quickest way to success was by working solo, and then keeping 100% of the return. However, they have missed the greater benefit of working co-operatively, from a knowledge and financial perspective.

Learning is vital, because our industry doesn’t stand still. I have seen this firsthand with a number of educational sessions the team have run. Sessions on things that you might consider basic, such as ‘How to read Bank Statements’ have been incredibly successful and have helped brokers to sense check the details, find opportunities for their clients.

With a General Election coming up, what should politicians do to support the industry?

The finance and property industry always needs certainty. Any future Government must think about the impact of policies and also unintended consequences.

I would urge whichever party is in power to consider how they can engage as many people as possible to become greener, and achieve the net zero target by solving the problem that consumers face, when they need wealth to be able to benefit from green energy initiatives such as solar panels and heat source pumps.

What is the best business lesson you have learned in your career so far?

You will have read there is a common theme in my answers so far. The best business lesson is teamwork, collaboration and creating great business relationships.

Where do you think the industry will be in 12 months’ time?

In 12 months’ time the industry will be in a strong position. There will be mergers and acquisitions of businesses, but the passion of individuals to do the right thing for consumers will remain.

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same of Bristol City who are likely to continue to disappoint me as they have done for far too many years I care to mention!