At First Financial, we’ve just celebrated 25 years since we first opened our doors. If we look back over that time, we’ve experienced many significant financial events, seen many changes in the market and had to grow and adapt at every stage.
What’s been incredible, though, is that even when we thought things couldn’t get much more difficult, we’ve always managed to make the best of it. And often, we’ve emerged in a much better place or thankful that we were forced to do things differently. So for the next blog in our series, 25 years of passion, quality and service, we’re looking back at some of the big moments in financial history – and how we dealt with them.
The early days of mortgages and the credit crunch
If you go right back to the early days of our business in 1996, most of the mortgages we arranged were with main high street lenders like Halifax and Nationwide. They took 99% of the market share, so we rarely had to look anywhere else. But in 2007, the credit crunch happened, and they virtually stopped lending to the intermediary market overnight. So we had to quickly find other lenders who could help our clients get access to the funds they needed.
For anyone too young to remember, the 2007 credit crunch was driven by a sharp rise in defaults on sub-prime mortgages. Although these mortgages were mainly in America, the resulting shortage of funds spread throughout the world. It felt like the end of the world for anyone working in our sector. But although we didn’t know it at the time, it transformed the way everything worked. And it was a much-needed change.
The rise of building societies
Mainly as a result of the credit crunch, building societies became our go-to mortgage lenders. That’s when we began to build relationships with them – many of which are still going strong today. It was a new world to us then, but it’s something that changed the way we work in a very positive way. Back then, building societies could only loan their own money, so they often struggled to compete with the pricing offered by some of the big high street banks. But in 2007, they found themselves well capitalised. Today we still work closely with them, often providing our clients with a more bespoke underwriting position.
Staying ahead of the game and putting our clients first
At First Financial, we work hard to keep abreast of what’s happening in the market, checking activity to see where the next big change will come from. After all, we have to be ahead of the curve, ready to adapt and service our clients’ needs. It’s about being really proactive. Something that we do in all areas of our business and the service we offer to our clients.
Our business revolves around our commitment to deliver our clients’ vision. If a client isn’t happy with us, we haven’t done our job properly. We take time to get to know each client to fully understand their circumstances, needs and plans for the future. It’s only then that we can ensure their expectations are met and that their experience with us is as streamlined and stress-free as possible. It’s a process we work hard to constantly refine and improve to make sure we have a happy client every time.
Want to know more?
If you found this interesting, you might also want to read our blog, six ways to build a buzz in the office. Or get in touch for advice about all kinds of mortgages, property finance, life and critical illness cover.