Let brokers work how they want to

The paperless mortgage process is almost with us and the drawbacks are becoming clear so brokers should be allowed to retain some options in the ways they work, says Sue Read

I note there is a general move to do away with paper-based mortgage applications. This is fine by me provided I can continue to gather information in a paper format before submitting applications online. Being the dinosaur I am I tend to complete a paper application with clients and then use this to submit the online application afterwards. This may take up more time but it allows client and broker to think before submitting. It’s amazing how often clients remember a crucial piece of information the day after you see them – such as the one month’s arrears they inadvertently forgot to mention to you the week before.

I do not have a laptop. This is not through choice but because that’s the way my firm works. Although several of my colleagues have them, generally speaking they don’t take their laptops with them to visit clients. You may think this is archaic and in many ways I’d have to agree. But I also see the alternative argument that when you sit down in a client’s living room on a wet Wednesday evening, you don’t really make them feel like you’re listening to what they are saying if you’re concentrating on typing in their details and fiddling with your mouse.

Don’t get me wrong, technology is a wonderful thing. I can see that laptops offer the chance to show clients several possible mortgage schemes instantly. I also see that putting client information straight into your database saves duplication of effort and possible errors in the transposition of data from paper to computer records.

And I know that submitting an online application and getting a practically instant underwriting decision is impressive and often useful.

We are just getting used to scanning in documents in our office. I have been a strong proponent of the paperless office for many years and I couldn’t wait to put theory into practice. But now it’s here I’m not so sure – although maybe it’s just a teething problem and I will persevere.

Most lenders seem to assume we all have laptops with us at all times – that paper is something we no longer use. That is a misconception. Many brokers still rely heavily on the trusty biro.

So please don’t do away with paper applications altogether. Let us work whichever way we prefer. If I were in a cynical mood I would suggest it saves lenders an awful lot of work if we input cases for them.

Finally, I never thought my position on self-cert mortgage could be ambiguous. I dislike them in general, although I can see their place for the right clients and sometimes recommend them.

But I hope I didn’t give my fellow columnist Neil Johnson the impression that I would even subliminally attempt to persuade clients to use poetic licence on self-cert applications. Or that I would deliberately “cleverly word” advice so that I could not be complicit in any fraud (Mortgage Strategy May 22). I agree with Johnson’s comments – the risks to clients are potentially even greater than the risks to brokers and should under no circumstances be thought to be acceptable. Please accept this as my unambiguous view.