Monday interview: Charles Haresnape, Aldermore Bank

Charles Haresnape is based in Edinburgh, and believes Aldermore will expand in Scotland as its presence becomes known in the lending market. Picture: Contributed
Charles Haresnape is based in Edinburgh, and believes Aldermore will expand in Scotland as its presence becomes known in the lending market. Picture: Contributed
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SELLING the concept of a new way of mortgaging is just the challenge to suit a sportsman

He started out wanting to channel his passion for sport into being a PE teacher, before switching focus to the world of commerce, but Charles Haresnape of Aldermore Bank still sees common territory between the two fields.

“The main parallel is engaging well with people,” he says, stressing that management is about bringing out the best in a workforce.

Now managing director of Aldermore’s mortgages arm, Haresnape studied law at university before opting to move into the world of finance and taking up a graduate, management-trainee role at NatWest.

He says that in his career he’s worked across “all aspects” of lending at a variety of organisation types, spending about ten years at Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) where he headed mortgage intermediary sales for both the lender and NatWest, followed by a spell as group mortgage services director at estate agent Connells.

Haresnape has now been at Aldermore for more than five years, saying when his appointment was announced that joining was “a unique opportunity”.

He has helped develop the challenger bank, which was founded in 2009 and says it “challenges the established view of what banking should be,” working with SMEs, homeowners and savers.

Aldermore describes itself as a specialised lender, fusing “good, modern technology” with manual underwriting,.

“If you were looking at some of the very big mortgage lenders… the system drives the whole decision. It’s just computer says ‘yes’ or ‘no’,” he says.

Aldermore will instantly make a decision in some cases, he explains, “but there’s a big, big gap in the middle we deliberately leave. Other lenders make that gap as small as possible. We make it wide so we can then look at the case in more detail, manually.”

This means often providing mortgages to people with “slightly unusual circumstances,” with Haresnape stressing that it concentrates on good credit quality. “We don’t do any adverse credit or impaired lending.”

Aldermore’s approach of taking more time “to think about the customer situation in a bit more detail” is unique, he says, adding: “Most of those customers wouldn’t get the deal if we weren’t around. There’s a big market out there that’s not well-served by the traditional high-street process.”

Edinburgh-based Haresnape adds that customers who don’t understand why their application was denied by a mainstream lender are often “so relieved” to be helped by Aldermore, which effectively “unlocks” their dream of home ownership.

The bank’s business model using an “intuitive” system that “effectively” points the right cases to the underwriter is definitely scalable, he says, “so as we grow we can still have the same principle applied” without needing to significantly expand its workforce. “That’s the benefit of being new — you can build a system like that,” he says.

However he stresses that Scotland is very much part of its strategy, having grown its total mortgage book north of the Border to about £200 million.

The expansion of its product range in April to include bridging finance in Scotland completed the jigsaw puzzle so that it now offers its whole range of lending products here, Haresnape says.

He said at the time of the launch that it came as the housing market north of the Border was “starting to show signs of renewed confidence” with an estimated 465,000 new homes needed by 2035.

Its range also includes buy-to-let mortgages, and while highlighting that this sector has faced several “headwinds” recently including additional stamp duty, the bank is “confident this will still be a popular method of home ownership, so we think it’ll settle back to a normalised rate”.

The company had an extremely strong first quarter, he continues, and it said in its trading update for the period that it more than doubled its buy-to-let origination to £327m from £134m in the same quarter in 2015.

Looking ahead, he says: “I think the appetite to lend in Scotland is stronger than ever… It’s a good market to lend into. Our presence will increasingly be up here.

“Now we have launched all our products, we’re going to make our presence known up here, because we want to do more. It’s really exciting and [Aldermore] still has a long way to grow.”


Born: Sale, Cheshire

Education: Marple Hall Grammar School in Cheshire then law degree at Manchester Polytechnic and achieved Associate of Institute of Bankers

Car: Range Rover Sport

Favourite mode of transport: Plane.

Music: Broad interest including Editors, Deep Purple, Bowie

Kindle or book: Book

Reading material: Thrillers and biographies

Can’t live without: iPhone and iPad

What makes you angry: Poor service

What inspires you: Self-made entrepreneurs who do it the right way and pay taxes due

Favourite place: Edinburgh and south of France.

Best thing about your job: Seeing how we have developed Aldermore successfully and that it still feels exciting with a can-do approach