Want to know what happens when 120+ delegates from Housing Associations and mortgage lenders get together to talk shop? Read on for the lowdown on this year’s Tea & Affordable Housing event…
A couple of years ago, me and the team at TMP The Mortgage People wanted to create an event that was a world away from the dry, formal conferences that are quite common in our industry. We felt that there had to be a better platform for getting lenders and HAs together and we also felt any opportunity for us to actually have a conversation together could only lead to good things. To cut a long story short: Tea & Affordable Housing was born.
We held our second T&AH event just a couple of weeks ago and I’m delighted to report that it was an incredible success. Over 120 people took time away from their busy schedules to get together in a London venue and the room was buzzing right from the start. One of the characteristics of the event is that we only organise it when we feel that there are issues ‘out there’ that need to be discussed and I have to say that we’d got our timings right.
It happened to be Brexit day, and while there wasn’t much discussion about leaving the European Union itself, there was a lot of chat about the state of the market. People were cautiously optimistic. It seemed as if we have turned a corner and that people had moved on from the doom mongering ‘Chinese whispers’ that had become a backdrop of the past year. It felt like business as usual, in fact.
Our first keynote speaker of the day, William Hobbs, who is the Chief Investment Officer for Barclays Investment Solutions, backed up this feeling with some solid stats and figures from the economic coalface and while there’s room for improvement, UK plc is faring reasonably well at the moment. And even if the economy dips in the future, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we are screwed (my term, not William’s!).
‘Room for improvement’ was a phrase or a sentiment that was used a few times during the day in at least a couple of our panel discussions (which were helmed by Tim Willcocks, Claire Blenkin and Amy Nettleton). Sometimes we might feel that the affordable housing sector is the finished article – and yes, we have come a long way in recent years – but there is plenty more that we can all do to improve the sector and the service we provide. Ours is a sector that is evolving all the time and its only by talking together and working together that we can achieve the outcomes we’re looking for.
Another interesting point that came up on the day was that many of the old problems are still the same problems that we’ve always faced, and these can be attributed to the idiosyncrasies of people. People don’t move in straight lines; they are fallible and unreliable and perhaps there are just some problems that we can’t fix. Maybe – and despite the best software or systems available – each transaction has a fixed processing time due to the people involved. Whether that’s a good or bad thing remains to be seen, but it seems to be where we are and where we’re likely to remain for the foreseeable future.
Talking of software, it was great to see Simeon de la Torre’s presentation of our Mortgage Ready app at the start of the day and I was really overwhelmed by the positive feedback from everyone. We have created this app to help the younger potential homebuyers who often become disenfranchised by the whole process and I believe that this is one way of empowering them and engaging with them.
Meanwhile afternoon’s keynote speech: Can We Talk Cladding?, which was expertly delivered by Barclays’ Head of Valuation, Fiona Haggett, struck a real chord with everyone. Cladding is such a hot topic at the moment and as Fiona explained, although some of us might feel like nothing is being done about it, things are definitely happening. The sheer scale of the problem means that this will not be something that will be going away quickly.
I’d like to report back at length on each of the presentations and discussions from Tea & Affordable Housing 2020, but I’ll have to save that for another time. I would just like to thank Barclays, who supported the event, as well as Simeon de la Torre from SIM7 and the TMP team who helped me put everything together. Our amazing photographer was Paul Smith.
Finally, thank YOU for coming. See you next time!