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Abbey for Intermediaries takes poll beating over service levels

Brokers have voted Abbey for Intermediaries as having the worst service currently out of the largest five mortgage lenders.

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In a Mortgage Strategy poll asking which of the top five lenders are currently worst for service, 38.1 per cent of respondents voted for Santander, Abbey’s parent lender.

Conversely, Mortgage Strategy ran a poll in February 2011 asking which of the largest five lenders offered the best service, which Santander won with 39 per cent of the votes.

Barclays had 26.4 per cent of the votes, followed by Lloyds with 12.8 per cent of the votes and then Nationwide and Royal Bank of Scotland, both of which grabbed 11.2 per cent of the votes.

Brokers have speculated that Abbey’s recent spate of seven-day deals have led to an increase in applications, which has resulted in a drop in service standards in some cases.

Coreco director Andrew Montlake says that Abbey staff have told him that service slow downs have been due to backlogs. But he says that service among all the main lenders has started to slow in recent weeks.

He puts this down partly to the fact that brokers are busier and distributing greater volumes of business and that lenders are still operating on the same reduced staffing levels they brought in when the downturn struck.

He adds: “It’s all about how lenders react and Abbey has continued to take in business in the front end.”

Presently, the lender says it has an average application to offer time of 12 working days. By comparison, Woolwich, Barclays’ intermediary arm, is currently quoting an average offer time of nine working days.

NatWest Intermediary Solutions and Nationwide Intermediaries both have a current average application to offer time of 13 working days. Lloyds could not provide figures before Mortgage Strategy went to press.

Abbey sales director Brad Fordham says: “We are committed to supporting our intermediary partners with great service and we apologise to any intermediaries who haven’t received our usual high level of service. Over the past few weeks we’ve seen strong demand for our market leading seven day specials and we are working hard to manage this demand.”

John Charcol senior technical manager Ray Boulger says: “We would have put Woolwich as the worst at the moment, which has been particularly slow at the moment. It claims this is temporary, which I have no reason to disbelieve as it is changing its systems. We would put Santander second.”

Speaking to Mortgage Strategy in this week’s cover feature, Barclays’ managing director of retail lending Steve Weston says it has just introduced a new processing platform to give faster response times. It has also increased the opening hours of its broker contact centres from 9am-5pm to 8.30am to 6pm, with brokers given a named contact when they get in touch.

He says: “Our aspiration is for us to become the go-to bank in the intermediary channel.”


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  • don 12th April 2013 at 5:13 pm

    I cannot believe that Abbey are getting this much stick for their mortgage processing. Woolwich and Nationwide are far worse. At least with abbey they tell you what they need and stick to it, and their online system is slick. Woolwich are a complete joke and their BDM’s are non existent and when you do get through they are chocolate teapots. unlike Abbey and Halifax who are contactable and relieble if needed

  • colin chapman 2nd April 2013 at 3:26 pm

    This surprised me a little as Abbey been pretty good of late, but think they might be creaking at the seams with the 7 day wonders

    Yes have to say Woolwich are defo the worst……we use MTE because their MAX system is such a poor system, but when they swicthed across to the new online system I think MTE got left off as all of a sudden the turnaround times for getting an application number went to about two weeks. Upon continual pressing they did admit an issue. When I then eventually got hold of a techie they didn t know what MTE was and where these applications were coming from!!!!!

    Abbey don t escape total critiscm as they have their own little quirks…… the guy that pays off his credit card in full every month, but bureau shows a balance on the day of keying, is a treat as a full blown committment knocking down the required loan amount………….but the best one…wanting my written confirmation of affordability when a pension in payment ceases…….er the guy will be dead!!!!! LOL……..was waiting for the underwriter to ask for proof of death ahead of it happening!!!!

  • Chris Poole 2nd April 2013 at 1:13 pm

    It is ludicrous to say Santander are the worst. Woolwich are a complete shambles – nobody knows what is going on. The UK call centre are unable to communicate with the Indian centre (where everything appears to be processed). The Indian centre have a very limited understanding of the English language. It takes up to an hour to even answer a phone call. Any answers given to enquiries appear to be fabricated as nothing we are told ever materialises. Heads need to roll at Woolwich, starting with the people who wrote the computer program for their ‘new’ online system.

  • Russell Watson 2nd April 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Woolwich is the worst. it takes them 10 working days just to look at a case and then the service isn’t up to scratch from that point as well. BDM’s there are very good but they cannot do anything!

  • James 2nd April 2013 at 11:46 am

    They’re nearly all as bad as each other. What with taking ages to answer their phones, obscure requirements that make no sense in the scheme of things and online facilities that must have been designed by someone who never completed a mortgage application in their life. The same online systems that get referred to in their recorded messages every time you ring them, for you to go to, to get updates on your cases but aren’t actually updated for days if not weeks on end.
    And, all this is from companies who supposedly support the intermediary channel. I’m just thankful mortgages are not my core business or I would have gone barking by now.

  • Arron Bardoe 2nd April 2013 at 10:49 am

    The trouble with polls such as these are they take a snap shot in time and a unrepresentative straw poll of brokers – usually those annoyed enough to bother to vote or who have some other axe to grind.

    In addition, the bigger the lender, the more business they handle and so the more negative votes they will receive. Smaller lenders will escape criticism for all the above reasons.

    All experienced brokers know that a lender with market leading rates will have slower processing times. If a lender gets double the business, then we all know SLAs will be breached, so we should not be giving them urgent cases.

    Moreover, in this fickle lending age, lenders with the best criteria will also be slower, especially when they are near the top of the table.

    It is our job to be highlighting this with clients, to ensure all documentation likely to be required is sent in and to be patient.

  • Poacher turned game keeper 2nd April 2013 at 10:24 am

    What rubbish , Abbey are leading the way on funding the inter market and as long as cases are packaged correctly whats the problem. Maybe you those that voted against Abbey should manage their and and their customers expectations! Get a grip .Woolwich are and always have been the worst.

  • Edward Riordan 2nd April 2013 at 10:20 am

    From recent experience AFI’s turn around times are ok at the moment. I think most people (including myself) are still put off by AFI with the issues they had 6-24 months ago.
    I think AFI still need to do alot to win the broker population back over.

  • Colin Payne 2nd April 2013 at 9:55 am

    “By comparison, Woolwich, Barclays’ intermediary arm, is currently quoting an average offer time of nine working days.”

    This is just for assessment, not application to offer and I was told last week they are taking 13 – 14 working days to just assess cases between £500k -£1m.

    I woould therefore agree with Ray and put Woolwich worst. It will be interesting to read the MS article from Steve Weston as the delay above just isn’t acceptable.