Hugh Wade-Jones co-founded Enness Global Mortgages in 2007 - on the same day that witnessed the demise of Northern Rock.
Despite poor timing and some of the worst trading conditions in a generation, Hugh and his business partner Islay Robinson have developed Enness into one of the leading high net worth mortgage brokerages in the world.
I have written before about the importance of being prepared when starting on the journey of buying a new home.
In my view, no one is more credible to advise on the lending aspect of purchasing a property than Hugh. He thinks differently, is agile and critically, understands the importance of continuous communication when delivering a service based product.
Most mortgages are easy to find. A quick search on Google will show you comparison sites, mass-market mortgage brokers, best buy tables, and lenders themselves. Which works well for 95% of mortgage borrowers.
However for those with complex situations, high value requirements, entrepreneurs and overseas residents, the system can often prove inadequate. For these borrowers, Ennes uses a number of relatively unknown, private and off-grid mortgage lenders – we like to call these ‘secret mortgages’.
‘Secret mortgages’ don’t appear on best buy tables or comparison sites. They are individually negotiated and highly personalised. Lending decisions are often based on the borrower’s net worth, background, occupation, family wealth – or a mixture of all these factors.
There are an entire network of little-known private banks which often fly under the radar. These lenders are genuinely private, ultra discreet and very selective when it comes to new clients.
Turnaround is fast, they are fantastic to deal with and provide solutions for even the most complex of situations. We often use these lenders with clients who are entrepreneurs, or perhaps someone who has a big balance sheet but limited liquidity.
International private banks
The appetite for very large mortgages often falls outside of the remit of many lenders.
However international private banks lend large sums at competitive prices, and are especially suitable for overseas buyers.
The global nature of these banks means they understand, and are sympathetic to local customs across the world – perfect for a borrower with income streams from abroad.
Local building societies
This might come as a surprise to some people, but for down to earth and highly flexible lending, regional building societies are exceptional.
Occasionally mutuals are restricted, or favour borrowing within their local area, but usually they will consider cases from across the country. Many have carved out niches where they excel – such as intergenerational lending, development finance, high loan to value or mortgages for foreign nationals.
Building societies look deeply at a borrower’s position and make a personal lending decision. For example, these lenders will often accept more unusual employment and income from several different sources.
For clients looking for financing beyond the standard mortgage, there is a wealth of specialist lenders that most borrowers have never heard of.
The reasons to use these lenders are wide ranging. A bridging loan may allow someone to buy a property before selling, or to use existing properties as collateral against a new purchase.
In a marketplace where mainstream lenders are inundated with applications, clients may appreciate a specialist that can act fast to help secure an opportunity.
This market is the most complex, is ultra-fragmented, unregulated and difficult to navigate. The lenders range from private banks, newly formed ‘challenger banks’ through to specialist funds, hedge funds and even wealthy individuals.
The high net worth waiver
Legislation from the FCA’s Mortgage Market Review, implemented in 2014, included the ‘high net worth waiver’. This allows for high net worth clients – those with an annual net income of at least £300,000, or net assets of £3m – to be assessed differently from mainstream borrowers.
Instead of judging affordability based solely on the client’s income and expenditure, the waiver permits lenders to also take into account their assets. Crucially this means even if you have low or no regular annual income but a strong asset base we can work with lenders who use the waiver to achieve significant levels of borrowing.
Things I’ve been inspired by this week
Principles by Ray Dalio is a book I read back in 2019. The workplace culture that he had created whilst building the largest hedge fund in the world was something that I found truly incredible.
His foundations of radical truth and radical transparency, an infinite learning mindset and the desire to be proved wrong as often as possible was a departure from almost everything I’d experienced professionally to that point. It was a real eye opener.
His latest project is with organisational psychologist Adam Grant.
PrinciplesYou was built to help people learn what they are really like. It’s on online assessment which helps you to understand yourself, understand others and to help others understand you.
It highlighted areas that I need to improve on, and I’ve also convinced one of my mentors to be my accountability partner.
“We designed PrinciplesYou to help you gain the self-awareness and other-awareness that are critical to making good decisions and getting things done” - Adam Grant