We all deserve a pat on the back

Industry professionals may have been feeling overworked and underappreciated in the past few weeks but most have been doing a fine job in trying circumstances, says Katie Tucker

All of us in the mortgage industry should take a moment to congratulate ourselves for keeping our heads while everyone around us is losing theirs.

The past few weeks have been absurd. Some lenders’ in-terest rate sheets have had two-day lifespans, BDMs have resorted to texting emergency rate withdrawals and lending criteria have been rejigged daily.

Any semblance of order has deserted the financial markets and many things we took for granted about lenders’ policies no longer apply.

Prospective borrowers gasp in disbelief that they can no longer have the 5 x income products at 100% LTV they just decided on and PR departments’ phones ring to the continuous tune of ‘journalist after an explanation for it all’.

Yet brokers, administrators and sourcing systems have carried on regardless, and done a jolly good job too. Data teams of all sorts have found themselves working silly hours keeping Key Facts Illustration databases and best buy tables up-to-date.

Products have been withdrawn with hours’ notice, leaving brokers hardly any time to call clients with KFIs and explain that they have to decide their fate for the next two years instantly. Brokers then have to arrange for forms to be signed, key in applications within hours and sort out the documents to be marched to lenders’ offices.

Staff at lenders’ mortgage centres haven’t had it any easier. The rate of product withdrawals shows that anyone working for a lender that played even a cameo role in a best buy table recently has been buried under five times the normal level of applications.

I remember my days in the Halifax business centre when if we had two-day queues, it warranted ‘crunch hours’ whereby we stormed through whatever queue we were quickest at and blitzed the lot. The current market brings new meaning to the phrase. Meanwhile, the Money Advice Trust, in conjunction with the Council of Mortgage Lenders, has released a leaflet for borrowers who are coming to the end of their fixed rates.

This has been produced be-cause, as it says, “experience suggests that if you get into difficulty, seeking free independent advice as soon as possible is the best option to help you sort out your problems”.

It gives contact details and advice to borrowers and the list of referrals is thorough, although I’m puzzled that none are to existing lenders or brokers.

So however unrecognised we feel for holding together the nation’s family budgets, we should give ourselves a pat on the back. Several thousand clients appreciate us too.