Communication is a matter of timing

In a highly competitive market and at a time of considerable strain for the industry, lenders are continually updating their mortgage ranges.

The list of deals was already complicated en-ough to baffle all but the most determined mind. Now, keeping up-to-date with every product change is even tougher. But on the front line, brokers need to maintain a grip on the changing marketplace.

Last week, a letter in Mortgage Strategy criticised our latest rate change and the way we communicated it to brokers. The letter was less than flattering and I thought I’d take this opportunity to respond.

I’m the first to admit that the old Abbey may not have always been the most efficient when it came to communicating rate changes, but things have changed a lot in the past two years.

We have taken significant steps to ensure that we now communicate changes to as broad an audience as possible as quickly as possible.

Among the techniques we use to get the message across are email and online desktop alerts, and we even offer a service whereby brokers can receive rate change texts on their mobile phones.

Furthermore, our network of regional sales teams open their contact books and our key account teams ensure major networks and mortgage clubs are kept in the loop. According to our feedback, by far the biggest concern brokers have is the timing of announcements, and we are often criticised for not giving enough warning about rate changes.

It should be pointed out that this is a service that not all lenders offer – many withdraw mortgages or change rates with no notice.

When the time comes to change our products we try to give as much notice to brokers as possible. This can be as much as three working days.

The high level of demand we have to cope with when these changes are announced shows we are doing our job when it comes to communicating with brokers.

As a progressive lender, we are ready to break with protocol where necessary if it means standing up for our broker customers.

On one occasion, demand was so high that we extended the deadline to ensure we could accept as many applications as possible.

But we always strive to do more and our challenge now is to take what we’ve built in the past two years and push it further.

We welcome feedback on how to achieve this objective but we also hope brokers recognise that we already go further than many of our competitors in the way we communicate with them.