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Hey, So: Craig McKinlay

20th April 2022

Hey! So, Kensington is a new name to a lot of people. Give us an intro

We’re the UK’s biggest specialist lender for residential mortgages and have recently celebrated our 25th anniversary. We’re focused on helping customers with complex circumstances such as self-employed those who’ve had credit issues in the past.

How come you can help people when the high-street banks won’t? 

Every mortgage application that Kensington receives is reviewed by a human underwriter (like Haysto, there’s no “computer says no” here!). This allows us to understand a customer's unique circumstances and take a common-sense approach and try to find a way to say YES. This flexibility means that if you have a low credit score or rely on variable income such as commission or even zero hours contracts, we’ll still look to try and help you.

Why do customers have to use a broker to get a mortgage from you? Why can’t they come to you directly? 

We believe it’s in the customer’s best interests to get professional advice from a specialist mortgage broker. A mortgage is a big financial commitment and there are huge amounts of possible options and choices in terms of lenders and products. An independent advisor is best placed to use their knowledge and expertise to help customers navigate their way through.

It’s a common misconception that self-employed people can’t get a mortgage - how are you tackling this? 

We’re primarily known as a self-employed lender because this accounts for around half of our business, whereas most lenders do a very small amount. Our underwriters are experts in understanding self-employed applications and we have a very flexible policy such as requiring only one year’s accounts for customers who are newly self-employed. We’re also able to lend up to 90% loan to value. 

What advice would you give to self-employed people looking to get a mortgage this year? 

1. Don’t give up! There are plenty of solutions that a mortgage broker can help you find that are beyond the obvious big lenders.

2. Get your paperwork together – personal and business bank statements, tax returns, company accounts etc. The more evidence you have, the better. 

3. Check your credit file – there are lots of free credit check companies online that can show you if your credit data is correct so you can fix any issues before you apply for your mortgage.

What types of cases are you seeing more of at the moment? 

We’re seeing lots of self-employed customers being refused by the big high street banks - even though they have a very strong application. There’s also a big increase in customers who have low deposits and are struggling to find a lender. 

How can specialist lenders be more innovative?

We’ve always been at the forefront of innovation – we were the first specialist lender to understand the importance of green mortgages and launched our ‘eKo’ range to offer enhanced cashback to borrowers who improve their home’s energy efficiency. We also launched the ‘Hero Mortgage’ offering enhanced affordability to specific key worker roles who’ve been so exceptional throughout the pandemic. 

Most recently, we launched long term fixed mortgages up to 40 years, providing peace of mind over rising interest rates. In a way, that allows those with a deposit as small as just 5% to have a larger loan than wouldn’t otherwise be available. We have a busy roadmap of product launches this year and have lots of exciting plans. Watch this space!

What’s your personal ambition for this year?

To help as many people as possible achieve their home buying dreams, especially those left out in the cold by the big banks.

What changes do you hope to bring to the mortgage industry? 

I would like to see a far bigger focus on customers' needs rather than what size deposit they have. We’ve addressed this through products like our ‘Hero Mortgage’, ‘self-employed mortgages’, ‘long term fixes’, and ‘eKo Mortgages’. The pandemic has affected a huge amount of people, so it's really important that we help them find a way to get on the property ladder by showing some understanding and flexibility.


Craig McKinlay is the New Business Director at Kensington - a specialist mortgage lender for the self-employed, contractors, first time buyers, and those with complex incomes. Read more about specialist lenders in our Guide. 

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