From Mike King
I agree with comments in the June 7 issue of Mortgage Strategy that there should be an awards event for lenders based on service. And I was interested to read the comments in last week's letters page (Mortgage Strategy June 21) in relation to Northern Rock. I have five instances which replicate the comments made by John Stewart – and this from a lender which regularly comes out top in searches on Mortgage Brain.
The service provided is an utter disgrace and I'm finding it increasingly tough to get through to Northern Rock's call centre or to my local rep.
I would also include Abbey, Bank of Scotland, Standard Life Bank, BM Solutions and Mortgage Express in the list of culprits who need to take a good look at the way they process business.
Four of these lenders have a supposedly ground-breaking AIP/offer system based on the latest technology. While they should be applauded for this, it is of no use when you need to speak to a human to discuss the nitty-gritty of an application in relation to queries ranging from “when is the valuation going to be instructed?” to “what do you mean you haven't got the paperwork I sent you following your request?” I am a sole trader and employ an office manager who I pay to chase these mortgage applications – money and time that could be far better spent in other areas.
When passing information on to clients we have to rely on information passed to us from call centres which is often incorrect.
I know that volume is an issue for lenders in terms of applications received but on a pro rata basis I am sure they are dealing with a similar number of cases to me – and I have to make sure I do not lose paperwork and am recording accurate information. Volume is no excuse.
What lenders do not appreciate is that brokers – their main source of business – work hard to get a customer to commit pen to paper. It can result in a referral, an introduction from an introducer or an expensive marketing campaign.
We lose face rapidly when confronting the issues above and have to fight harder to keep business that is in the pipeline with lenders than we do to attract it in the first place.
It is simply not good enough to have lenders' chief executives grinning out of your pages holding trophies for innovative products (which without question most of the lenders above offer) when the real issue is getting the business agreed within realistic timescales and a subsequent mortgage offer.
Lenders, you would do well to remember that there is no point in having a fantastic product if it is painful to access or brokers lose face while trying to place business with you.
Mike King MLIA
Waterfront Financial Services
Name and address supplied