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Lenders need service culture says CML chair

Martijn Van der Heijden, chairman of the Council of Mortgage Lenders, has told lenders they need to have less of a sales and more of a service culture.

Speaking at the CML annual lunch in London last week, Van der Heijden, who is also head of lending at HSBC, told attendees that before the credit crunch mortgage lending sleepwalked into becoming more of a sales culture.

He told the audience: “I think we have to get more honest, more transparent, more intelligible, to our customers. More importantly, we need to make a true cultural shift from a sales culture to a service culture.

“Somehow, after deregulation but before the credit crunch, mortgage lending sleepwalked into becoming a commoditised sales business rather than a true customer relationship business.”

In May 2009, Michael Coogan, former director-general of the CML, said: “Some brokers acted like sales people more interested in cash flow than the customer’s interests.”

Van der Heijden added that while he has great respect for other professionals such as intermediaries, lenders must take to heart that they are the ones with the long-term customer relationship, and its risks and rewards.

Van der Heijden also used the event to question whether the bridging sector is fit for purpose.

He says while lenders should defend their turf against regulatory excess, they should step in when attempts are made to avoid regulation.

He told attendees: “We should support efforts to identify areas where there are attempts to circumvent rules and allow poor lending to slip through the net.

“While there are undoubtedly some good lenders in the bridging and short-term lending market, is it at the moment universally truly fit for purpose, for example?

“Would it benefit from regulatory scrutiny, and would it really damage us to say so?”

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