Ian Larkin, Co-Group CEO responds to the latest CML lending trends data

It's pleasing to see that the market regained some balance in May as the huge spike in lending driven by buy-to-let activity in March and the subsequent dip in April has evened out to a steady 8% growth year on year.

It seems this has been driven largely by lending to first-time-buyers.  While this is clearly positive news, the really pressing question for lenders now is what next following the Brexit vote? The market  is not likely to see double digit growth in the near future following the unprecedented uncertainty unleashed by the vote to leave the EU and the economic headwinds that seem likely to emerge.

Added to this, all indications are Mark Carney and the Bank of England will cut interest rates imminently and so margins for lenders will be squeezed even lower at a time when rates are already close to rock bottom and competition is intensifying between traditional lenders, challenger banks, specialist lenders and alternative finance providers. In this uncertain and intensely competitive marketplace, lenders will need to work even harder to source and keep the right kinds of borrowers, and as a result, service and cost efficiency will be key to ensuring growth continues. Equally, I expect many lenders to look to their existing customers and potential re-financing opportunities to try to keep lending volumes closer to the targets they will have forecast at the beginning of the year. A move that will make a customer-centric approach and better customer information even more crucial.