Brokers should look to their own shortcomings before blaming lenders

From Jonathan Burridge

Most lenders’ service is poor. Some are terrible and few are good. Look at the evidence. In the trade press recently Ricky Okey of Abbey said Your Move had noticed a “dramatic improvement” in Abbey’s turnaround and GMAC-RFC stated that 79% of brokers said its service was “better than average”.

Hardly impressive claims are they? At one time my niece’s tortoise could have carried a piano up Ben Nevis before Abbey answered the phone so a dramatic improvement could mean the tortoise only being able to get halfway up before the receiver is lifted. And I wouldn’t want to brandish a badge on my lapel stating, ‘My clients think I’m mediocre’ so why does GMAC-RFC?

The letters pages in our trade press are full of complaints from brokers and fingers being wagged at various lenders, but there are some that deserve special mention for providing consistently appalling service, The Woolwich for example. We recently sent an application to The Woolwich which claimed never to have received it, then some days later called saying, “We have a cheque for a mortgage but no other paperwork.” How did it know who to call? Silence.

A member of Mortgage Express’ staff recently asked us to provide evidence of the right to reside for a Spanish citizen living in the UK and last week Cheltenham & Gloucester refused to issue a mortgage offer until it had sight of a client’s bonus payments, overlooking the fact that the loan was affordable on his basic income.

I have experienced these types of problems (and probably been responsible for a few) again and again in my years as a lender, packager and now broker. It has always been thus. Generally, a lender’s service goes up and down depending on product range and volume of business. We have to spend a great deal of time with a shoulder behind our clients’ applications pushing them through systems. But we don’t begrudge it – it’s a part of our job. For lenders to offer competitively priced products they have to limit overheads and I’m happy to give our clients a well priced product and a realistic indication of the service that they will get, then make sure it happens.

How many brokers who complain about a lender’s policies or service have made an application blindly assuming they have an understanding of the lenders’ criterion or with an unrealistic expectation of the service they are likely to receive?

If some brokers looked to themselves for a root of the trouble before blaming lenders they would find a much smoother passage for their applications.