Skipton International deals with 'vast range of people, scenarios, locations, and time zones'

Experience in international arena means range of products and comprehensive support for brokers

Skipton International deals with 'vast range of people, scenarios, locations, and time zones'

This article was created in partnership with Skipton International

As physical boundaries continue to fade in importance and the industry becomes more digital every year, Skipton International (Skipton) provides a comprehensive suite of products to meet the varied needs of its borrowers — including those of its international clients and the brokers who work with them.

“We aim to tailor-make our products to fit with clients and we bring a lot of experience in the international arena: we’re used to dealing with a vast range of people, scenarios, locations, and time zones,” said Kate Le Prevost (pictured), assistant manager, business development at Skipton. “We understand how expats and non-nationals work, we understand the UK housing market, and we’ve got a lot of very good relationships with brokers that understand how this works as well.”

Skipton’s strong international presence

Skipton International is part of the Skipton Group – which includes the Building Society and Connells Estate Agency – so has breadth and depth behind it. It’s current mortgage book sits at £2.1 billion, 97% of which is a UK buy-to-let offering to people living abroad. Skipton started lending to British expats in 2013 and has since expanded to include non-nationals as well. Outside of sanctioned countries, Skipton has a strong presence across the globe from Hong Kong and Singapore to New Zealand and Dubai, and across the United States. Closer to home, Skipton stands out by lending to Scotland along with England and Wales, which many other expat lenders don’t do, Le Prevost noted.

Offering competitive products and market-leading criteria, over the years Skipton has increased its lending to meet market needs including recently rolling out special purpose vehicles (SPVs), also known as limited company mortgages. This product allows borrowers to purchase a buy-to-let property through a limited company set up for the sole purpose of property investment, and where personal offerings are just for people living outside the UK, with SPVs the directors can be UK residents purchasing a buy-to-let — a differentiator from other lenders.

Skipton also has an enhanced rental calculation to fit for higher-net-worth clients whose income is over £100,000, for example. They can access that more generous rental calculation that’s more likely to fit with the borrowing they’d like to achieve.

“At the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is help people buy a property or remortgage a property they’ve got through investments or retirement planning,” Le Prevost, who started at Skipton 11 years ago on the underwriting team before moving on to business development summed up.

“I just love helping people and whether I’m speaking to direct clients or assisting brokers in supplying documents correctly, it’s the satisfaction of seeing cases get over the line. Skipton gives you the space to make that happen because we’ve all got a voice. If one part of the criteria isn’t working, or there’s a bit of criteria we think we should add in, that’s considered. I work with a team of like-minded individuals who are all keen to dive in and find solutions.”

The Skipton difference

Above and beyond offering comprehensive and innovative products, Skipton is committed to providing personal service. With a dedicated BDM team, “we’re always on the other end of the phone,” Le Prevost said, adding that everyone’s direct dial and personal email are available, as opposed to a generic team email, and even if someone calls the main Skipton number you get a real person not a telephone menu.

“You’re able to speak to someone immediately — none of this press 1 for this or 2 for that,” Le Prevost laughed. “We offer one individual point of contact all the way through the process, be it a direct client coming to us or be it the broker’s BDM team.”

The lender’s relationships with brokers have deepened over the years, and while part of that is due to marketing the majority is due to word of mouth. When brokers move companies, for example, they take the knowledge with them and let them know what Skipton offers. For international brokers specifically, they know they can reach out at any time and hear back in a timely fashion. If the office is closed, there’s an online submission route they can take to key the case into the system so it’s waiting for review as soon as the doors open. There’s also a dedicated section of the website for brokers, with an affordability calculator available 24/7 that can be used to get an idea if the case will fit with Skipton. 

“Even when the office doors are closed, we are available 24/7,” Le Prevost noted.

Skipton does a lot of outreach as well, keeping in contact with brokers across the globe and watching for trends and opportunities. The lender has seen a huge rise in applications from Hong Kong, for example, where there’s been a lot of civil unrest. British people living there or Hong Kong nationals with a British passport especially, want to position their money in a more stable part of the world. They’re looking at buying real estate in the UK as a way of keeping their investment safe from the turbulence as it’s regarded as a solid place to buy properties, and Skipton has made a point of marketing and engaging with brokers based there so they know Skipton is available if they want to come to them for a mortgage. There’s a lot of opportunity in the international arena, and for brokers looking to build business in the space, Le Prevost recommends the same proactive approach.

“Explore the local culture, learn about how the people work, observe the trends of expats and non-nationals within that country, and grow their knowledge of the UK housing market,” she advised. “Get familiar with the differences: we try to keep our offerings as simple as possible so it’s not hugely different from doing buy-to-let with somebody in the UK, but a lot of other lenders aren’t quite so simple. Investigate and get to know what’s available.”

And, of course, brokers should never hesitate to reach out to Skipton, where the doors are always open — and they welcome the challenge of the “I’ve got a funny one here, how can you help?” cases.

“Phone us, or drop us an email, and know you’ll always speak to the same person who’s eager to find the best solution for you and your client,” Le Prevost said. “Come and talk to us because we’re here to help you.”

You can contact the team at Skipton International on +44 01534 509501, or email Kate directly at: [email protected]