SPECIAL FEATURE: Rockstead expands again

Robyn Hall

July 12, 2013

Having originally launched at the start of the global recession in 2008 the company provides a far wider range of services than was originally envisaged having taken advantage of the need for mortgage industry expertise that has grown substantially since its launch.

As a result it has launched a recruitment campaign to boost staff numbers.

The company was formed to take advantage of what was seen at the time as a lack of competition in the due diligence and audit space, particularly in the loans and mortgage sector.

By bringing together a number of well-known industry experts to create one of the strongest management teams around, Rockstead has made a significant impact with a number of large banks utilising its services across Europe.

Brian Pitt, CEO, said: “When we originally launched it was against the background of lender withdrawals and closures and there were a number of very talented individuals who, through no fault of their own, were immediately without work.

“Richard and I believed that talent pool could be consolidated into a unique mortgage and loans audit and consultancy business and we set about creating Rockstead as the only truly independent business in the sector.

“The business is owned by the individuals that run it and that has helped create a great environment – not only to work in but also to grow steadily. That’s a fantastic achievement against the background of launching during a recession.”

In 2012 the business created offices in Spain and Ireland and employed skilled local professionals to drive forward its expansion plans.

Having its research it was clear to Pitt at that time (and it remains so today) that what was needed, if it was to be successful, was credible people working in an existing established business, with local knowledge at the heart of the proposition and which was committed to the market over the long term. Banks, investors and asset holders need the re-assurance of a sound balance sheet and proven experience if they are to commit to do business with a service supplier.

“It is fundamental principle within our business that we tell it like it is, and that includes being honest about our own position,” said Pitt. “We are completely committed to our customers wherever they are located. It is relatively easy now to set up offices in different countries but employing local, trusted individuals is a different ball game.

“They are not easy to find and we worked extremely hard to find our people in Spain and Ireland and work closely with them to develop our country propositions. Knowledge of the different compliance and regulatory regimes across Europe is a challenge and can only be achieved with experience and a strong local presence.”

So, having successfully built the infrastructure needed to expand across different frontiers the investment seems to be paying off. Contracts have been secured with a number of UK based and overseas banks, plus professional institutions and investors in asset backed securities, to help them in a number of ways.

Rockstead has a long term contract in place to help review collections activities and recommend process improvements at a bank in Ireland. It recently carried out review of loan books in Spain and Portugal and has a current project to help a UK mainland bank with short term staffing solutions.

“We have now reached an exciting stage in the development of our business which includes the need to widen our proposition by the employment of more experts,” Pitt told Mortgage Introducer. “As a result we are on the lookout for good quality people with a mortgage or loans background who are looking for temporary or contract work, some of which can develop into longer term or permanent placements. At the moment we are specifically trying to expand our database of underwriters, collectors, compliance and quality control professionals.”

The new regulatory regime has created problems for some and opportunities for others and Rockstead has its feet firmly in the latter category.

Pitt added: “As companies in the financial services sector have rightly had to focus on regulatory compliance they often are not in a position to carry out extensive internal reviews of processes and policies due to lack of resource. By the efficient use of external experts and the benefits of a variable cost base we continue to help companies with risk assessments, third party supplier oversight, staffing services and strategic consultancy.”

As the mortgage market improves, funding lines will start to open up again and opportunities for origination strategies are already being discussed. There are suggestions that a number of new lenders are waiting in the wings for the right time to launch. Companies like Rockstead, with the wealth of experience of its board, all of whom have been involved either directly or indirectly over many years with lenders, are no doubt going to take advantage of whatever opportunities are there.

Pitt said: “There is no substitute for experience in the lending sector and we are ready and willing to help potential new entrants build their teams and strategies and the need for a sound supplier of such services is crucial.

“We have built a great team of people so far and are looking to build on that as we prepare for the return of the mortgage market.

“We do not expect things to go back to where they were, particularly with past distribution strategies now recognised as have being flawed but we are prepared to be pro-active in helping bring our expertise to the new world of lending, trading and servicing that exists post regulatory reforms.”

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