Mortgage lending increases by half at city branch

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Lorraine Blackburn

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A PORTSMOUTH bank has seen its mortgage lending increase by 50 per cent since November.

The secret, says Handelsbanken’s new Portsmouth branch manager Lorrae Hayes, is that the bank likes to have a personal relationship with its customers – and first-time buyers need not apply.

Mrs Hayes, who took up the post in February, said: ‘There’s a lot of interest in what we do and how we do it.

‘We’re seeing a lot of interest from people within the professional community, or people who have fairly unusual circumstances who need a mortgage.

‘We want to tell people we are open for business, but we’re not in the market for first-time buyers.

‘We’re looking for applications that are a little bit different, and customers who want to have a relationship with their bank.’

Handelsbanken was started in Sweden and operates differently to the majority of high street banks.

It is de-centralised, which means it has no specific targets, and concentrates on customer satisfaction.

Mrs Hayes added: ‘There is no culture of bonus payments and we only deal with locally-based businesses and individual banking customers so we can get to know them very well indeed.

‘There is a growing network of 105 branches in the UK now and the majority of our business is referred by satisfied customers.

‘I know it’s a cliché but happy clients do lead to more opportunities.’

Locally, Handelsbanken says it will not be the cheapest in the market but it will provide bespoke solutions unlike many other lenders.

It gets involved in commercial deals in the local business community and is also active in the smaller business deals market.

Mrs Hayes continued: ‘My role is fairly simple – to help the Portsmouth branch grow.’