Let’s pay brokers more than lip service

Do lenders value brokers\' business? How hard do they work to secure it? Do they care about brokers and their clients?

The soundbites, straplines and sales pitches used by mortgage lenders strongly suggest they do. But the everyday reality tells a radically different story.

Too many lenders spend hours telling brokers how important their business is while keeping them on hold at one of their inadequately staffed call centres.

Lenders’ marketing would have us believe an efficient personal touch underpins every product yet borrowers are lucky to see their funds within a month.

This is especially true of some of the biggest brands. Too many lack the drive to put their marketing into practice. If they did, developing, implementing and using the latest IT would be at the heart of their propositions.

Over the past decade, specialist lenders and new entrants have been the engines of change in the market. They have invested large sums of cash, taken the time to design systems that work and put management teams in place that are capable of driving efficient, customer-led propositions. While other lenders have changed their processes as the market has evolved, they have been swept along with the tide. Change has been driven more by the need to keep up than a genuine ambition to deliver improved service. As such, they have tended to lag woefully behind the leaders.

Perhaps some lenders do not have the capital or the foresight to centre their administrative departments on the most sophisticated IT. Perhaps they think instant online credit decisions are not the shape of things to come.

There is no problem with this for some cases but when physical valuations are required or a degree of manual underwriting is needed we still complete cases in less than a week. Others regularly take over a month.

The argument runs deeper than IT. It’s more about competence – which some of the biggest lenders have lost, having become bloated and complacent over the years.

Lending in today’s commercial environment is all about delivering a convenient, integrated and quick service to brokers and borrowers. Those that fail to take this into account will soon find themselves extinct. May they rest in peace while the rest of us get on with the job.