Homedirect loanOne to One: Graham Sellar, head of business development - mortgages, Santander

One to One: Graham Sellar, head of business development – mortgages, Santander

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Graham-SellarSum up your role at Santander

I look after our intermediary key accounts team. I work with my internal colleagues to help our intermediaries have the best experience with Santander when they select us for their mortgage customers.

Buying your first home is a very special moment. It is great to be involved in helping customers make the right choices

I bring the challenges the brokers face to the bank and ensure we are aligned and responsive to the wider environment of the ever-changing mortgage market.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

I have been at Santander, working with our intermediaries, for more than 26 years. We have worked together through full interest rate cycles, the global financial crisis, and now the fallout of Covid-19 and Brexit, and the immediate challenge of the rising cost of living.

Our industry is stressful, challenging and emotive, so we need to work together and treat each other in the right way

The Mortgage Market Review in 2014 was the biggest challenge. Many said regulation and the extra requirements would cause harm in the market and drive business away from brokers. Eight years later and, in this rising interest rate cycle, it is good to know that all customers have been assessed at stressed payments and intermediaries still write more than eight in 10 mortgages in the UK.

Over the past decade, we have seen borrowers become more unique in their circumstances, with a higher proportion now self-employed or with complicated credit profiles, and a homebuying process many find stressful and complicated. Intermediaries have become even more vital to the market in guiding borrowers through the process and finding the mortgage that fits them.

What are some of Santander’s priorities in its intermediary space this year?

Santander has supported intermediaries for more than 30 years. Through Abbey National, Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and now Santander UK, we have predominantly created new mortgage customers through partnerships with our intermediary channels.

When I started in the mid-1990s, offers took around two weeks and the legal process was seen as too slow. Twenty-five years on we haven’t seen a shift

We want to continue to support mortgage brokers and seek new ways to make the relationships even stronger and the customer journeys easier.

The 2021/22 market has proved very challenging for all parties, with the increase in volumes, the continued impact from Covid and the rising cost of living. We aim to be seen as a lender that supports the market and offers the best service through our teams, systems and processes.

What are some standout moments in your career to date?

The way the market reacted to the pandemic.

In March 2020 activity was strong following the general election and the Brexit agreements. Then came Covid-19 and a great challenge to the housing market: surveyors not being allowed to enter properties; bank staff, brokers and solicitors adjusting to a working-from-home model; payment holidays being introduced; and various restrictions on different types of employment.

I work with my internal colleagues to help our intermediaries have the best experience with Santander

In 2021 and 2022 we have seen the strongest market for 14 years and, although we still have challenges around recruitment, as an industry we have managed to continue helping so many customers. This should make us proud.

What do you most enjoy about the mortgage industry and what would you change about it?

I love the fact our industry is so high profile and makes a difference to so many people.

Buying your first home is a very special moment and a mortgage is most often the pathway. It is great to be involved in helping customers make the right choices.

We aim to be seen as a lender that supports the market and offers the best service through our teams, systems and processes

When I started in the industry in the mid-1990s, offers took around two weeks and the legal process was seen as too slow. Twenty-five years on we haven’t seen a shift to a quicker customer journey. We must all continue to work together to make the process of buying a home less stressful for customers and more streamlined for brokers.

If you could work in any other field, what would it be?

I’m a West Ham season ticket holder and being a sports commentator was always my dream. Anyone who knows me and how I sometimes muddle my words would suggest I chose the right field as it is more numbers based.

Although we still have challenges around recruitment, as an industry we have managed to continue helping so many customers. This should make us proud

What is the best advice you have received?

Treat others how you would want to be treated. Our industry is stressful, challenging and emotive, so we need to work together and treat each other in the right way.

Company profile

Year established: 2010, originating from three constituent companies — Abbey National, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley — all former mutual building societies.

Headcount: 19,200 (at 31 December 2021)

Address: 2 Triton Square, Regent’s Place, London NW1 3AN

Tel: 0800 085 1390

Santander UK is a financial services provider that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. At 31 December 2021 the bank served around 14 million active customers via a nationwide branch network and telephone, mobile and online banking.


This article featured in the July edition of MS.

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