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Ascent Builds Market Share

Growth Due To Increase In Mortgage Arrears Visits


Ascent, the specialist provider of external field counselling services for major financial institutions, has announced that it is on target to boost its share of the market in the UK for completing mortgage arrears visits.

The announcement by Ascent, a subsidiary at national law firm Irwin Mitchell, follows news by the Association of Arrears Mediators (AAM) that its members have experienced a fall in activity during the first six months of 2012.

AAM was established in 2009 and currently represents four agency businesses including DMS and NCI. According to AAM, its members experienced a 25% drop in pre-litigation mortgage arrears visits and an 18% fall with pre-eviction visits during the first six months of the year compared to the same period in 2011.

During the same period, Ascent, which last year posted a turnover of £3m, saw a 41.8% and a 70% increase in the number of pre-litigation and pre-eviction visits which it was instructed to carry out.

Niall Gilhooley, Chief Executive at Ascent, commented: “Although it would be true to say there is a general improvement in lenders mortgage portfolios and that the demand for these services will reduce in the future, we are certainly not seeing a fall in the number of instructions from institutions. On the contrary, institutions increasingly see our early intervention as the best way to improve the performance of their portfolios.

“We are confident about the future and believe we are in very good shape. As portfolios improve, the effectiveness of these visits and their value and therefore the performance of suppliers will be subject to closer scrutiny and challenge. Along with increasing regulatory compliance pressure, we are confident that this will play to our strengths.

“Looking at the numbers of visits completed by AAM members, and estimating those completed by non AAM members , our current market share for external field counselling appears to be in the region of 15% from a standing start three years ago. I’m confident that we can continue on the same growth curve over the next 12 months and substantially increase this again to become the UK’s undisputed market leader in this space.”

Home visits are carried out on behalf of most mortgage lenders after a household has defaulted on their mortgage. During the visit, counsellors discuss the outstanding arrears and aim to develop a sustainable and affordable payment plan for clearing the debt.

In July this year, Ascent revealed the latest findings from its ‘Domestic Arrears Report’. Here the company analysed data from over 24,000 households across the UK which have missed monthly mortgage payments and subsequently undergone debt counselling on behalf of their lender.

The study found that the proportion of homeowners who paid off some of their mortgage arrears following a visit increased by 11.1% in Q2 of 2012 compared to Q1. During April, May and June in 2012, 60.3% paid a proportion of their debt back to their lender. This compares to 36% of homeowners who were paying debt back in Q3 of 2009.