Being the grande dame that I am, I do not frequently have to involve myself with lenders’ online systems. I usually pass anything technical like that to my wonderful colleague Rachael, and thereafter smile and carry on with the more interesting parts of my job.
I have to own up to being a bit of a technophobe and I admit to occasionally passing on work to her that I do not want to do myself because of this weakness.
But last week I needed an equity release Key Facts Illustration from Northern Rock and not wanting to bother the busy Rachael, I took the old-fashioned approach and telephoned it rather than contacting it online.
Having gone through the endless questions on its message system (‘What is your phone number/Financial Services Authority number/inside leg measurement?’), I was asked whether I knew that if I did this on its online system I would earn 150 more in proc fees. I did not know this and so immediately set about addressing my fear of technology and getting into its system.
To cut a long story extremely short, I discovered that you can’t get into the online system through Northern Rock’s website and that you have to have an icon installed on your workstation. Of course, Rachael has this.
I insisted that I needed to get myself sorted and so I borrowed the necessary disk. Some two hours later, having installed and uninstalled the system and downloaded an update, I still had no KFI. We still haven’t got to the bottom of why this might be the case, but suffice to say that Rachael will shortly be printing one off for me.
This situation resulted in a discussion between my colleagues and myself about the ease of use of various lenders’ websites and online systems.
For example, why do the Halifax and Northern Rock systems require you to have something downloaded onto your computer, leaving you with a desktop icon which is the only way to enter the online system? Why can’t we enter these systems via their broker websites?
And once in their systems, opinions differ regarding their usefulness. My new colleague Martin loves the Halifax/BOS system whereas James dislikes it. I think the GMAC-RFC point-of-sale system is fantastic while the others are unsure. Meanwhile, edeus’ system certainly looks the business but we’ve yet to test it, and I like Alliance & Leicester’s website while Skipton’s, for me at least, has some irritating things about it.
Every lender you meet will tell you that its online system is the bee’s knees and that it has taken the time to look at what the rest of the market is offering, but have these companies road-tested their systems before rolling them out to us brokers? Have they sent their IT wizards into brokers’ offices to see what we have to deal with on a daily basis and experience how stressful and tedious almost every little five-minute job can become?
I am growing weary of doing much of the legwork for lenders in return for a relatively feeble proc fee. How about you?