In the spotlight with Lottie Clayton, Head of Intermediary Sales, Gatehouse Bank
This editorial was featured in the Financial Reporter.
1) Can you start by telling us a bit about you and your role as Head of Intermediary Sales at Gatehouse Bank?
As Head of Intermediary Sales at Gatehouse Bank, I am responsible for supporting the sales team to build and maintain solid relationships with a growing number of brokers and intermediaries.
My career spans over 20 years in the financial services industry, where I have held roles from both a lender and broker perspective. Earlier in my career, I worked as a Mortgage Adviser for a number of providers, including Countryside and NatWest, and I also previously held the role of a Senior Underwriter at Chorley Building Society.
My current role is something I am extremely enthusiastic and passionate about – establishing, developing, and maintaining strong broker relationships while helping our network of brokers provide their customers with Gatehouse Bank’s range of Shariah-compliant products.
2) Can you explain a bit more about what Islamic finance is and the principles that underpin Gatehouse Bank?
Gatehouse Bank is a Shariah-compliant UK bank, with offices in London, Milton Keynes and Wilmslow. Founded in 2007, Gatehouse Bank operates in accordance with Shariah principles, offering banking solutions with an environmentally and socially conscious focus.
Shariah principles rule out highly speculative investments, instead preferring a model that shares and mitigates risk, generating wealth for the benefit of the whole community.
Many perceive Shariah-compliant banking to be more ethical than conventional banking due to the natural alignment between Shariah principles and sustainable development frameworks. For example, Shariah-compliant banks such as Gatehouse Bank do not invest in sectors perceived to cause harm to society, including alcohol, gambling, tobacco, adult entertainment, and the arms industry. We value transparent and fair banking that facilitates the sharing of both risk and reward in an equitable way.
3) How is a Shariah-compliant bank different to a conventional one?
The main difference between Shariah-compliant and conventional finance is around interest. This is because Shariah principles state that money should be put to work to produce a return by generating wealth for the whole community, rather than producing profit in and of itself.
In line with this, Gatehouse Bank offers Home Purchase Plans (HPP) also known as “the Islamic alternative to mortgages”, which involve a partnership between the customer and the bank, who purchase the property together with the customer paying the bank rent on the proportion of the home they don’t yet own.
When it comes to our savings products, our customers are offered expected profit rates rather than interest rates, which the bank generates by investing in Shariah-compliant assets.
4) Gatehouse Bank has recently partnered with the Right DA Club - how important are these partnerships for you?
Partnerships like the Right DA Club are incredibly important to us as they give us the chance to provide our panel of brokers with access to our competitive Buy-to-Let and Home Purchase Plans. We collaborate with many different networks around the UK, including Envelop Network – another partnership that was announced earlier this year.
Our mission is to make sure we provide a suitable solution for our customers and allow them to align their financial goals with their ethics – broadening our network in this way helps us do just that.
5) What are some of the common misconceptions around Islamic finance?
The most common one is that people assume it is exclusive to those of Islamic faith, which isn’t the case. Providers like Gatehouse Bank ensure that there is good provision for the Muslim community, which is vitally important, but all products and services are available to everyone, of any faith or none at all.
In fact, the principles naturally align themselves to several sustainable development frameworks, so Islamic finance is actually a really good option for those who want to make sure they are doing good with their money as well as working towards their financial goals. This is especially relevant now when we are in the midst of both a climate and cost-of-living crisis – ethical finance and meeting your financial goals should not be mutually exclusive.
6) What’s the outlook for Islamic finance in 2023?
I am optimistic and excited for the future of Shariah-compliant finance. Gatehouse Bank entered the market in 2007 as one of the first Shariah-compliant UK banks, and we’ve grown significantly since then.
In 2022, we launched our Green Home Finance product range, where we became the only Shariah-compliant bank in the UK to offer these kinds of products. This product range was designed to support UK homebuyers and landlords that are purchasing or refinancing a more energy efficient home by offering a reduced rental rate on a 2 year or 5-year fixed rate product. We also continue to offset the carbon footprint of the average UK property for as long as the customer remains with the Bank.
Another exciting development has been updating our operational processes and reducing our case packaging requirements, with these changes positively impacting our application to offer times. With demand for Islamic finance on the rise globally, we expect the sector to continue growing in the future.