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.”