In the last two years, Bluestone Mortgages has continued its ongoing investment in technology, transformed its product range and secured more funding – three successes which have strengthened our position in the specialist lending market. Between July 2018 and July 2019 in particular, we saw a year-on-year increase in completions of 264% and processed in excess of £520m in mortgage applications during this period.
We are a specialist lender driven by technology. The most significant enhancements we have made to our proposition over the last 24 months include our online broker portal, ‘Bluelink’, and our Open Banking solution. With the help of onsite underwriters, we have been able to develop Bluelink since its launch in October 2017, ensuring that the system delivers what brokers need and expect from technology. Building Bluelink in-house has also given us complete control over its future development and allows us to incorporate feedback from brokers into it easily and swiftly.
In January 2019, we launched the pilot phase of our Open Banking solution, becoming the first specialist lender in the UK to incorporate the service as part of our core underwriting process. Other lenders are yet to catch up with us in this way. Since the launch in January, we have been able to retrieve customer transactional data in under a minute and analyse this to determine a customer’s affordability and eligibility for specific products. For years, underwriters have gone through customer data with a fine-tooth comb. However, the integration of our Open Banking solution has revolutionised the way we interact with and use customer data, radically improving decision times and outcomes for brokers and customers alike. We are not a ‘tick box’ or ‘computer says no’ lender. Now with an Open Banking solution under our belts, we will be able to help more borrowers with the tailored lending solutions they need.
Following the launch of our Help-to-Buy range in England and Wales, we also introduced our full residential and Buy-to-Let product range across mainland Scotland. This decision was fuelled by our commitment to serve underserved borrowers across the whole of the UK, and not just those in England. We have also enhanced our fee-free remortgage offering for borrowers consolidating debts. Again, this highlights our commitment to serving borrowers typically underserved by mainstream lenders, and help customers improve their financial position.
Securing our first securitisation in September 2019 was a major milestone for us. Whilst the wider Bluestone group has completed in excess of 25 transactions since it started in 2000, this was a first for the business’ residential lending arm, Bluestone Mortgages. The Genesis transaction raised £210m of rated term funding for our mortgage business, diversifying our funding base and enabling richer product innovation. As we head into 2020, we are in a robust funding position to continue to invest in and develop our service even further.