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Community focus brings a loyal customer base

Q: How is The Hanley Economic structured?

A: The Hanley Economic is proud of its mutual independent status and is committed to maintaining its role as a modern, customer-focussed organisation owned by its members. In addition to its four branch offices in North Staffordshire, the building society has a network of agents in this and neighbouring areas. The Hanley Economic has its own teams of mortgage advisers and IFAs who give one-to-one consultations with customers within the branch network.

Q: What sets you apart from your competitors?

A: The Hanley&#39s decision to launch its own mortgage brokerage service two years ago has given the society an edge over competitors in its operating area. By sourcing products from a select panel of lenders we are able to offer tailor-made mortgage solutions to meet every customer profile. This strategy has greatly increased the range of mortgage products we offer and has been achieved without decreasing the take-up of our own mortgage products which we strive to make as competitive as possible.

Q: What are the pros and cons of your core product range?

A: The Hanley seeks to offer a competitive range of mortgage products. Deals incorporate features customers want such as free legal processing and free valuation with interest rates that compare favourably with those offered by larger lenders. The quality of our personal service to customers is another factor in winning and retaining mortgage business within our operating area.

Q: What is your distribution strategy?

A: As individual customer care is a central theme of our offer to the public the majority of mortgage business is done by personal contact within the network of branches where the mortgage brokerage service team of advisers is based. Similarly, our IFA team meets customers one-to-one in the branches.

The society&#39s full range of products is offered by its agency network and postal savings accounts are also operated. In addition we have developed a customer contact centre which, as well as responding swiftly to customer enquiries, plays an important role in keeping us in touch with our client base by telephone.

We have pioneered the use of software to aid staff flexibility within the organisation and our website is being developed to give customers the facility to view their accounts and make applications online.

Q: What impact will regulation have on your business?

A: The Hanley sees regulation not as a threat but an opportunity – a chance to reinforce our reputation for professionalism and transparency and in so doing win new customers and recruit the highest calibre staff.

Maintaining the competence of staff will be vital in meeting the requirements of the legislation and we have already made a major investment in the training and competence of our people. An important appointment in recent months has been that of a training and competence supervisor who is responsible for the development and implementation of a detailed training strategy. Detailed performance monitoring is undertaken, both internally and through a mystery shopper programme.

Q: How do you see the market in two years&#39 time?

A: At a time of fundamental change it is impossible to predict accurately the market in two years&#39 time. Certainly the introduction of regulation will have an impact on the size and number of networks and on the total number of organisations operating in the market.

The need for consistency andcompliance will certainly lead to much greater use of technology in the application process, providing an accurate and easily accessible audit trail.

Jason Mellor – Ideal Mortgages Direct

As an independent adviser working mainly in The Hanley Economic&#39s core area I find a local mutual is an extremely useful option with clients. I value the flexibility of lending criteria it offers when assessing business, which is further complemented by the human touch it applies to the underwriting process. Its friendly, well-trained staff are invariably willing to discuss reasons why they can do business rather than look for reasons to decline a case. Occasionally service can be an issue and presently the product range is limited for brokers, but overall it remains a first-class lender.

David White – David J White Pension & Life

My relationship with The Hanley goes back 20 years. The society is probably more focussed on branch than intermediary business but the service is excellent. You can usually call up and get straight through to the underwriter dealing with your case which makes the process much quicker than having to go through the anonymous centralised systems of larger lenders. It is also pretty flexible, particularly on buy-to-let, and will always look at a case individually and try to adapt to that borrower&#39s needs as far as possible. This all means we can offer better service to our clients.

Brian Evans – Lark Capital Planning

The Hanley is a friendly, approachable society. It takes a flexible approach to lending. By that I don&#39t mean it offers 5 x income but it will look at a person&#39s circumstances based on affordability rather than stark income multiples. A lower LTV ratio will usually mean a lending stretch as well which makes sense. Case handling is usually efficient and you can speak to someone who knows about the case as opposed to a call centre. Small lenders have their advantages and should not be overlooked as they are keen for repeat business and therefore work well with brokers.

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