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17 June 2019

Head and Heart Lending

By Vicki Harris
Chief Commercial Officer of Kensington Mortgages

Hi - I’m Vicki and I oversee Kensington Mortgages' customer proposition.

For most people, buying a house is the biggest and most important purchase they will ever make. At Kensington we are passionate about helping people own their own homes, so I’m starting a blog to raise awareness around issues that impact would-be homeowners. Issues, that I see our customers struggle with every day, but that the mortgage industry is struggling to resolve. As this is my first article I want to share some reflections on how changes in the way people live and work are challenging the industry, and what we are doing about it at Kensington.

As a nation we are experiencing big shifts in how we work, with fewer and fewer people in a 9 to 5 job with a single employer. As more and more people join the gig economy or have jobs with unpredictable earnings and/or multiple sources of income, the mainstream mortgage lenders are not keeping up with these changes - if you’re not a full time, PAYE-enrolled employee, then you are likely to find it difficult to get on the housing ladder with a high street bank. As a general rule, their systems and processes just can’t cope with anything non-standard.

At Kensington we take a different approach. We lend every day to people in the ‘real’ world - self-employed workers whose income varies from month to month, older workers nearing retirement without certainty yet on the size of their pension, gig economy millennials who are party to a number of different freelance contracts, and young professionals whose income will grow substantially over the next few years but can’t afford a deposit for their first property today. We lent over a billion pounds last year to help them to buy properties with an average value of near £250,000.

It’s what we call Head and Heart Lending - we need to understand and analyse your financial situation (the Head) but we then layer a common sense, human judgement on top of this (the Heart) to come to our lending decisions. There is no ‘computer says no’ mentality at Kensington, no simple algorithm we use to determine the outcome of a mortgage application. We pride ourselves in scratching below the surface of the numbers and treating every customer like a human being. We call it #KensingtonDifference - it’s our response to a changing society and it allows us to offer mortgages to thousands of would-be homeowners when other lenders shy away. 

Over the coming months I’ll talk more about challenges facing the industry and how we can respond.  In the meantime, please follow us on LinkedIn (Kensington Mortgages) or Twitter (@KensingtonChat) for our regular updates. Or if you want to start a conversation directly, then just email me on

Vicki Harris has 20 years of experience working in challenger financial services brands, working across asset management, banking and specialist lending. She is Chief Commercial Officer of Kensington Mortgages, the UK’s leading non-bank specialist mortgage lender.


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