First Active must shape up when it comes to service

I\'d like to share my experience of the service provided by two lenders - Woolwich and First Active.

I recently submitted similar cases to both lenders featuring low LTVs and no credit problems.

With Woolwich, the case was submitted on Monday and I received a call from it on Tuesday to check a few de¬tails before offer.

This was fantastic service. Even in the past six months when it has been so busy, Woolwich’s communications have remained excellent.

On the other hand, First Active re¬ceived its case on March 3 and is still unsure if the valuation has taken place. It will probably be another two weeks before an offer is made.
Apart from the service gap, another notable difference between the two firms is in the technology they use.

Woolwich has in¬vested in a robust online system which is exactly that – online. It allows the use of desktop valuations that speed up the application process.

Meanwhile, First Active has a system whereby information is keyed in by brokers and then printed off at its end before being rekeyed.

Following its recent proc fee reduction and its statement that this would lead to better service, it’s clear this is not the case.

Although First Active’s problems may have been exacerbated by the volume of business it has received in the past few weeks, this can’t be used as a justification in future.

The Royal Bank of Scotland needs to invest in a system for First Active that is truly online and allows brokers to spend less time on what should be straightforward cases.

Most importantly, the lender must learn to communicate with brokers about its service levels in the way Acc-ord Mortgages, Woolwich and Scottish Widows Bank have recently proved is possible.

I’m not going to stop using a lender if it has a backlog as long as I know about it and it fits in with my custom¬ers’ timescales.

But I will think carefully about go-ing to First Active again unless it learns from its mistakes.

And after speaking to several brokers recently, I know I’m not alone in having problems with the lender.

It can’t continue to release att¬rac-tive rates every few months but ex¬pect us to use it all year round based on its service proposition alone.

Dan McGeehan
Seamless Mortgages
By email