View more on these topics

NatWest slashing its BDM team is a kick in the teeth

The news last week that NatWest Intermediary Solutions, the intermediary arm of the Royal Bank of Scotland, is cutting its field-based BDM team from 40 to 19 was really dreadful.

It is reducing its sales managers from four to two and cutting another six roles within its administration/business support team, although Its phone-based BDM team remains unaffected at 11.

Graham Felstead, head of intermediary channel at NatWest Intermediary Solutions, was brought in to migrate four lending brands into one which he did well.
The service has improved dramatically and I have some great people looking after my business.

Our BDM ranks among the best. I am sure she will survive but she will now have to go through the angst of reapplying for her job.

Lender’s service has improved dramatically and I have some great people looking after my business. Just as it’s going so well this happens

NatWest says that it is looking to redeploy a number of BDMs within RBS, but the exact numbers will not be known until the consultation process comes to a close.

Our telephone-based case manager Mark Hammond is one of the finest in the mortgage industry but he is now seen as surplus to requirement.

NatWest is one of our biggest lenders and just when everything was going so well this happens. In addition to this our commercial BDM, a fabulous credit manager, is also being made redundant.

And to make matters worse, my sources in private banking tell me that NatWest may be planning a big recruitment drive for branch-based mortgage advisers.
All in all the news was a kick in the teeth for intermediaries and a sad day indeed.

James Lindon-Travers

Cutting its excellent BDM team could lose NatWest my custom

I could not believe the news that NatWest Intermediary Solutions is cutting its field-based BDM team from 40 to 19.

One of the main reasons I use NatWest is because of my great BDM. If I no longer have a BDM and am forced to accept the decision I am given on its instant messaging service LiveTALK, NatWest is likely to get less business from me.

I find the operators on LiveTALK do not have the same criteria knowledge as the BDMs.

It makes you wonder whether NatWest wants less business.

Tim Lynch

Useless LiveTALK is no better than just looking at a manual

It is a major mistake for NatWest to cut the number of BDMs it has if it is interested in increasing business.

Its BDMs are key to its business and it has some excellent ones – mine is the reason that it gets as much business as it does from me.

I have tried LiveTalk and found it to be useless. It’s like reading a manual, which any of us can do.

Incidentally I used to work with all the guys so I know what a great team it is. Such a shame. I wish them all the best of luck.

Aaron Griggs

Heartless Clydesdale is not treating this customer fairly at all

I am writing in disgust at what I feel is a lack of Treating Customers Fairly from Clydesdale Bank towards a client of mine.

I have a client who took a life and critical illness policy with PruProtect when she remortgaged her property in May 2011. She opted to not have the income protection as well as she was on a budget.

Sadly, she was diagnosed with ME in November 2011 and will be off work for several months.

The PruProtect policy doesn’t cover this condition for a partial claim so I approached Clydesdale as the client wished to change to interest-only for the foreseeable future to make her monthly payments more affordable.

She is also attempting to rent a room out, which will help her financial situation while she is off work.

Clydesdale has declined to change her to interest-only as apparently in its terms and conditions, which I have been unable to locate, it states that you cannot change the repayment method of a fixed rate.

It has also advised my client to speak to Shelter for assistance. It seems it would rather see her go into arrears which would prevent her from borrowing in the future and lead to greater arrears on the repayment method, than offer her the more manageable interest-only short-term option.

This is shameful. I will be taking this to the Financial Ombudsman Service and will be telling fellow brokers all about it to ensure others do not get into this situation.

Michelle Lawson
Prospect Money

But bank defends its efforts and pledges to stay on the case

In response to Michelle Lawson’s complaint about Clydesdale Bank, we endeavour to treat each person fairly and recognise that everyone’s situation is unique and changeable.

Following a change to the customer’s financial and health circumstances last year, we discussed a range of responsible and affordable options to help her meet mortgage repayments in November 2011.

This included reducing her monthly mortgage payments. The client decided against that option.

We will continue to work closely with her to ensure she receives the right advice and support.

Clydesdale Bank

FSA is missing the point in warning lenders on contracts

I was interested to read in last week’s Mortgage Strategy that the Financial Services Authority has warned lenders over the wording they use in their contracts for interest-only mortgages.

It is advising them to ensure their contracts are fair when they are switching customers from an interest-only mortgage to a repayment one.

It would be better to clamp down on lenders that refuse to allow switches to interest-only when clients hit financial difficulties. Most lenders now treat this as an arrears situation, despite the fact that they are gaining from it.

Stuart Duncan

Rethink your notion that interest-only is of benefit to lenders

Reading the comments on Mortgage Strategy Online last week regarding the FSA’s warning to lenders over interest-only contracts, I notice that some people have made the classic mistake of thinking interest-only is beneficial to lenders, but the opposite is true.

Repayment loans can generate more income and it was not so long ago that an interest-only loan cost 1% more than a repayment one to make up for the smaller returns.

I remember some findings from a leading building society which calculated that even this differential is insufficient to cover the lesser return on interest-only.

Also, contractually nearly every loan is repayment and interest-only is a concession. So if a customer can’t meet their obligation why shouldn’t it show as arrears? It might seem harsh but that’s the way the world is.

If someone couldn’t afford their car loan you wouldn’t ask the lender to manipulate the situation so arrears didn’t accrue.

Grey-Haired Underwriter

FSA is protecting the government, not us everyday customers

With regard to the FSA’s warning to lenders over their interest-only contracts, I feel it is not interested in the everyday customer on the street – it is simply protecting the government.

I have read the FSA’s polices on treating customers fairly and they only serve to deliver the opposite.

As a consumer I can make my own decisions and can safely say without fear of contradiction that the FSA has made matters worse rather than better.
If I make a mistake I would rather take responsibility for it and take my own legal action against so-called rogue brokers or a bank

It’s time for the FSA to back off and stop bullying the people of Britain. I would also like to know what the financial institutions and brokers of this country are doing to defend their clients’ rights.

Name and address supplied


Expected rise in B2L business reflects housing predictions

It was hardly surprising to read research from Paragon Mortgages last week that more than half of brokers say they expect to complete more buy-to-let business this year than last.

The poll revealed that 53% of brokers believe they will do more buy-to-let business in 2012, with just 3% expecting to do less.

Of those that said they expected buy-to-let business to increase, 19% are predicting a rise in business levels of 10% or more.

Home ownership is predicted to fall from 71% in 2012 to 61% by 2020, while the private rental sector is predicted to increase from 29% to 39% in the same period.

It’s clear to see from the large numbers of lenders relaxing their buy-to-let criteria and some now re-entering the buy-to-let market that this is where mortgage business will be written in the next few years.

With the average age of a first-time buyer without assistance now in the late 30s and the average house price at eight times average salary, we are going to see fundamental long-standing changes in the property market.

The European housing system of a lifetime of renting is likely to grow in the UK as wages fail to keep up with house prices.

Name and address supplied

All the best to the nicest guy after 23 years at Paragon

I read on Mortgage Strategy Online recently that Andrew Lees, head of sales at Paragon Mortgages, is retiring after 23 years at the firm and I would like to wish him well.

He is one of the nicest guys the industry has known.

He is always more than willing to do his best for his broker friends and I would like to wish Andrew good luck and a long and happy, healthy retirement.

Robert Smith


MPC vote unanimous again in January

The Monetary Policy Committee voted unanimously to keep the base rate on hold and maintain the quantitative easing programme at £275bn earlier this month, minutes of the meeting have revealed.

Caring for clients can bring great rewards

The value of your advice should never be underestimated. Brokers can provide clients with the right products to protect them from events that could devastate them or their families financially – something few industries can do.

Europe: why persist with value today?

By Rob Burnett, Neptune’s Head of European Equities The Neptune European Opportunities Fund remains committed to a value bias. We see a broadening array of opportunities in diversified industries at compelling valuations today. The most complicated part of the market is the European banks. We are currently overweight in this sub-sector as many banks are […]


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up
  • Post a comment
  • Maddog 26th January 2012 at 2:10 am

    Why did Natwest Intermediary Solutions slash phone staff in the first instant. Natwest Intermediary Solutions offered great service from knowledgeable staff with a simple phone call.

    It sounds like Graham felstead made the wrong decision with the first onslaught of redundancies a year ago, the service has not been the same and I wonder if this is RBS looking at cuts more than business sense again.

    They contradict themselves with their customer at the heart of everything we do strapline, it should read bonuses at any cost is the thing we do.