Andy Moody, managing director, Loanoptions.co.uk
The question is not whether the relationships have improved or worsened, it is a case of everyone in the industry whether product provider or distributor standing together in the face of the worst situation we have ever faced. From our point of view at Loanoptions.co.uk, we are working very closely with our lenders and the relationships have if anything deepened. As distributors we better understand the strains placed on the lenders, who are still active, by the increasing volume of business they are processing. Equally, lenders have recognised that they need to engage us in dialogue in order that we can both plan our businesses better and ultimately help intermediaries and their clients.
These relationships are key to the survival of the business and anyone who is still criticising the way in which lenders are working and the sudden changes to criteria and service problems are fighting the wrong battle. Service problems are not new but given the extraordinary circumstances we are working with, put against the survival of the industry, immediate product withdrawal and criteria changes are something we have to learn to live with for now.
The important issue is not what is wrong with service/product changes but how we can do everything to ensure that the business we want to do with lenders is prepared to the best of our ability and no time is wasted on cases which have less than a chance of getting through. When the market returns, and it will return, lenders and distributors who have worked together in a mood of joint cooperation at this difficult time, will be better placed to benefit from an upturn because they have worked together through the bad times.
Managing relationships with lenders requires that both sides recognise the problems faced by the other. There is no doubt in my mind, that the working relationships forged in today’s problems will make for a more dynamic industry in the years to come.
Daniel Gale, head of lending, Help Personal Finance
We`re all in the trenches together. We have all, to some extent been working under a cloud of uncertainty and it has been difficult times for staff at the lenders, who because of the changes in criteria have been working to numerous deadlines and probably taking more and more flack from under pressure brokers. These guys on the front line are sometimes more in the dark than we are regarding what is on the horizon. Whenever possible we are kept fully in the loop and normally get a “heads up” before any formal announcement. We have always had good relationships with our lenders and if anything they have got stronger over the last few months.
There are exceptions. Some lenders have disappeared and some have dramatically reduced their staffing levels meaning that we have been dealing with people who are working their notice. It’s understandably difficult to keep yourself motivated in these circumstances, most have remained professional and got their job done but some business development guys have gone AWOL during their notice period meaning that it has been more difficult to get problems resolved.
Relationships can get also get strained when the staff at the lenders themselves are uncertain about the state of their funding. If there’s no communication then we are all left wondering where we stand and confidence can be damaged. Now is definitely not the time for finger pointing and in general, the members of the industry that we speak to have developed a siege mentality and the support we have received from lenders and competitors a like is a great help.