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Santander removes Highclere from broker panel for abusive language

Santander has removed Highclere Financial Services from the Abbey for Intermediaries broker panel with immediate effect, following accusations that the firm’s partner Alan Lakey used abusive language towards the lender’s employees.

Alan Lakey 160 byline

The lender has written to Lakey, who is also a council member on the Association of Professional Financial Advisers, to inform him of the decision on the basis that, as a responsible employer, Santander must support its employees and ensure they are not subject to written or verbal abuse.

The ban follows two emails sent by Lakey to staff at Santander.

Lakey was informed by the lender’s operations team that his fast-track functionality was being removed following an audit of the cases he was submitting on 29 November.

He then sent two emails to the lender about the decision on 29 and 30 November. As a result of the language used in both emails under Santander’s mortgage and insurance terms of business, the decision was made terminate Highclere’s involvement with immediate effect.

Section 11.2.2 of Santander’s terms of business states: “Any misconduct by the Intermediary or any person or body for which it is responsible (including and appointed representative) which is or could be reasonably viewed as prejudicial to our business or reputation.”

A spokesman for Santander says: “Mr Lakey is fully aware of the reasons why we have removed him from our panel. We have nothing further to add.”

The lender also confirmed this latest ban takes the number of brokers removed from its panel this year for reasons relating to professional standards to four.

Lakey says: “I have endured six months of idiotic and unacceptable rigid underwriting and precise attention to pointless detail to the ultimate disservice to myself and my clients.

“The total failure to accept any responsibility and their total inability to allow me any type of discourse with someone who can make decisions has led my clients to ask me why they have been put with this lender.

“There comes a point where you reach the straw that broke the camel’s back. The email I received yesterday led me react the way I did. “


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  • Matt Cottle, Y3S 10th December 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Alan Lakey has dealt with our company for the last 2 years, and has been nothing but the perfect gentlemen in his dealings with us.

    Any person having to deal with continuously bad service from any organisation can only take so much.

  • Karl Hopper-Young 7th December 2012 at 11:06 am

    I have successfully avoided dealing with lenders directly for many years.I have colleagues who do that and relay to me the mindlessness of lenders and to date I never cease to be amazed.
    We need some new centralised lenders to start up, using those poor people who are living in “Lender Hell” to grasp the nettle and take the market by storm. Finally a granite wall placed at Canary Wharf naming and shaming all those turn coat lenders. lest we forget.

  • charlotte Dean 6th December 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Think I’d want to see the emails in question before passing judgement. Think all the other comments about quality of underwriting etc are irrelevant really. Surely we all owe it to eachother to be courteous and professional? I don’t really want to live in a world where it is acceptable to behave hideously to one another (as implied by some posts here). If your job is making you that angry…it’s time to hang your boots up.

  • b patterson 6th December 2012 at 9:09 am

    well done Mr lakey

    If you have ever dealt with these corporate ” one size fits all ” it is enough to make you cry.

    Santander are useless – honestly small is beautiful.

    Mr lakey I do beleive this brave stance will generate more business for you – well done sir

  • Andy 5th December 2012 at 10:00 pm

    He deserves everything he got. End of. This is why brokers have such a bad name in the minds of lenders employees. There are so many comments here from brokers that are so ridiculous its embarrasing.” client has an rental income of £250k but Abbey will not do it because they cannot prove a minimum of £20k” doh!
    If you dont like the lenders criteria or service stands, go elsewhere. Otherwise accept the situation and work with it. If you have an urgent case dont place it with a lender that has a two week service delay. Its not that hard. Or is it.

  • Andy 5th December 2012 at 8:57 pm

    He deserves everything he got. End of. This is why brokers have such a bad name in the minds of lenders employees. There are so many comments here from brokers that are so ridiculous its embarrasing.” client has an rental income of £250k but Abbey will not do it because they cannot prove a minimum of £20k” doh!
    If you dont like the lenders criteria or service stands, go elsewhere. Otherwise accept the situation and work with it. If you have an urgent case dont place it with a lender that has a two week service delay. Its not that hard. Or is it.

  • GHU 5th December 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Isn’t it amazing how this story has caused so much response and I am a sucker for it as well. In my experience no lender goes out of its way to upset a good intermediary. Most employees would be given a ‘sharp verbal slap’ if they upset a broker and for Abbey to do what they have doen suggests they feel fully vindicated

  • Chris Gardner 5th December 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Its sad that you can n longer speak your mind passionately without it being bullying. The business community at corporation levels are getting lilly-livered and flaky.

    Business requires tough talking at times and staff need to of a calibre that can take it.

    Everywhere you go now there are stickers warning you against rasing your voice at staff etc etc. Its pathetic.

  • Egg in a Box 5th December 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Agree abusive language should not be used. BUT

    I think, although not good for Alan, this is actually good for the broker community as a whole that Abbey (to their detriment) have decided to go public with this and it has happened to a high profile person such as Alan.

    Hopefully this will highlight (to the FSA/Networks) some of thing brokers have to put with from the lenders along with the usual dual price/dual underwriting issues;
    • If Alan had been an AR of a Network, he would be suspended and ultimately struck-off; that’s someone’s livelihood taken away and potentially career in FS over for an alleged abusive email, no appeal process, where the lender is the Judge and Jury.
    • The FSA also ask the question if you have been stuck-off from a lenders panel. I’m sure it affects your application to the FSA but not sure if it would be an outright rejection.

    Given that this could potentially end someone’s career shouldn’t the FSA force the Lenders to be more transparent and have an appeal process?
    Reading other forums it seems like some brokers have been stuck-off Lender’s panels for their DIP to App ratio, fair?

  • gobsmacked 4th December 2012 at 10:34 pm

    Has no one thought Abbey just made the first move here as most of us know Alan writes for MM and from the tone of some of his previous articles I would hardly say he was professional. I would imagine it would take a lot of pushing and abuse for a lender to take this action and make it public. Brokers like this give our industry a bad name

  • Shaks 4th December 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Alan Lakey I agree with your protest at Abbeys ridiculous, pointless, pontificating and causing delays without cause or explanation. The people at Abbey are as good as any other lender and just as professional. However it seems they have had some Nazi like regime inflicted upon them. They are prevented from being sensible and straight forward. I doubt if Abbey would publish the precise email tpo prove their claim. Perhap Alann yoiu should publish it here, after all you do own the copyright on it.

  • Ancient a mortgage broker in N3 4th December 2012 at 4:28 pm

    There’s no excuse for abuse and nasty emails to lenders – after all, we are all suffering in many ways with tougher new underwriting and have to accept it.

    Lender delays are causing problems for everyone.

  • Bob the Builder 4th December 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Seriously people let’s all take a small step back, someone being abusive either by email, on the phone or face to face is in essence being abusive and should not be tolerated end of.

    Maybe instead of ranting on a public thread about what is whole of market and what isn’t we should all maybe get on and start looking for clients in that whole market so we can write some more business, for the record Jon T is right it’s in the MCOBS as suggested!

    Now let’s have an end to the matter as at the end of the day this doesn’t affect any one of us as advisers other than Mr Lakey so really who cares about the outcome of this story unless you are pre-planning a verbal assault on your BDM anytime soon?!

  • Bobby 4th December 2012 at 3:55 pm

    I would still do the business if they abused me as I cannot afford to lose any cases ! Mr Lakey has been tarred and feathered and now some people are saying is he rude to his clients ?! I just think it sets a very bad precedent and is not a reason to strike someone off the panel of lender. The world has gone mad and I am very sure Mr Lakey has a very good reason to act as he did. My mantra is ” no one knows what they would do unless they have walked in a man’s shoes ” Think on that.

  • anon 4th December 2012 at 3:32 pm

    bore off with this now. get over it. dont like them dont use them

  • anon 4th December 2012 at 3:32 pm

    bore off with this now. get over it. dont like them dont use them

  • john smith 4th December 2012 at 2:51 pm

    no excuse for rude insulting behaviour. Is he like that to clients he is frustrated with too.

  • Phil 4th December 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Bobby, if a client was abusive to you, you would have the right to say you do not want their business. This is what Abbey have done.

  • Stephen Reynolds 4th December 2012 at 2:09 pm

    It must be best part of a year since i last did a mortgage case with Abbey that went according to their lending criteria. since then, every case i have done has hit a rocky road with trumped up silliness about why unable to lend and has required a firm but illustrative suggestion about how they might feel comfortable with the lending proposition. It is a symptom that will always prevail, that if you shut the door to communication, protesters will march and chant and rant outside until they are heard !!!!!!! regrettably, Abbey have not learned from their mistakes of 1992 and its business and piffle as usual. I avoid them like the plague but reluctantly have to deal with them from time to time.

  • Hugh Wade-Jones 4th December 2012 at 1:58 pm

    If (and that’s a big if) Alan has acted unprofessionally then Santander have blown him out of the water making this public and have no moral ground to stand on whatsoever. I might suggest a turning of the tables on Santander and making the emails public?

  • no need for a name 4th December 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Anonymous | 4 Dec 2012 8:59 am

    Jon is right and you are wrong. read MCOB old son, the rules is the rules.

  • shock horror 4th December 2012 at 8:59 am

    Re Jon T 1:47pm

    So what if a deal with HSBC/First Direct, Britannia, Norwich & Peterborough, West Bromwich Building Society is best for the customer and because you don’t “give advice on any of these lenders” the customer misses out.

    Thats what the word WHOLE means, you work in the WHOLE market and if you aren’t then you aren’t WHOLE OF MARKET as you are only working in a limited space and hoping that is the best advice

  • Fat Mortgage Bloke 4th December 2012 at 7:17 am

    Fair play Alan….you are a customer and entitled to an opinion,So they have given you the Spanish Archer.(no pun intended).
    They are not the only show in town and if Santander left the Market Place then life would still carry on??

  • Bobby 3rd December 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Thinking about this sorry state of affairs this makes me very uneasy. It seems Alan has been struck of the Abbey panel as he used some ” harsh words ” out of total frustration. Surely a lender only has the right to strike someone off if they committed a fraud or a misrepresented a delibertaly incorrect mortgage application. When has it become right to strike someone off if they used some industrial language ? That is not the remit of this lender, this is way over the top. Lenders have no right to do this. Lenders should only be able to do this if mortgage fraud can be proved. Alan has not done this and if I were him I would be seeking legal advise as they have restricted his trade. We as brokers need to stand up to this bullying as we could all do what Alan did and I for one feel very uncomfortable about this. I think it is disgraceful they struck him off and even more so they made it public, truely disgraceful.

  • Sandra McWhirter 3rd December 2012 at 8:56 pm

    There is no need to be abusive to anyone! I am sure if the staff at Abbey were abusive then they would be fired so why not the other way about?
    The fast track facility is not a right of any need to show that you can evidence income if asked and to match what you have updated on the application. sorry this is not hard to do. They also provided calculators so that you can work out what the correct net income should be.
    Yes lending has been hard for all lenders and brokers all year but abbey have in recent weeks been trying as have reduced rates and amended their systems/underwriting criteria to let more business in.

  • nobody cares 3rd December 2012 at 3:39 pm

    ..and in other news thousands of brokers across the UK remove Abbey from their panel due to poor service and costly time consuming underwriting.

  • JT 3rd December 2012 at 2:48 pm

    You have to question Shabby Abbey’s reason for going public on this matter. I don’t recall seeing the other brokers being publicised in this manner! To me this seems like bully boy tactics, something the broker market is now all too familiar with from the likes of the mainstream lenders! (LBG anyone)!

    I for one now only use Abbey as a last resort due to their service levels, ever changing lending criteria, pedantic underwritting, poor communication and the hit or miss centralised BDM’s! I also advise clients of my opinion relating to specific lenders so they are fully aware of my reasoning when recommending a product and product provider.

    I await alan’s next published article with some anticipation! I hope you use it constructively to strike back at these bullies!

  • We're All Doomed!!!! 3rd December 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Indeed Jon T 1.47pm – Whole of Market advice, in this context, is defined as a firm that has “considered a sufficiently large number of regulated mortgage contracts which are generally available from the market”.

    I am sure that Alan no longer considering Santander products would have absolutely no effect on his stance as offering Whole of Market advice.

  • Jonathan Burridge 3rd December 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Come on Ed,

    Publish my comment asking to see the emails! If Santander are confident in their decision they should be able to stand by it.

    Consider it professional training for us all, clearly no-one wants to be struck from a panel because they got a bit “shouty”. Let us have some guidelinez so that no-one else falls fowl of the same error……..

  • Jon T 3rd December 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Anonymous | 3 Dec 2012 11:25 am:

    I think you need to check the definition of “whole of market”. My understanding is that it does not in fact mean “every single lender who is out there”.

    You may call yourself whole of market, but do you advise on HSBC/First Direct products? Britannia? Norwich & Peterborough? West Bromwich Building Society? One can choose not to give advise on any of these lenders, particularly if the client is not enthusiastic about paying a fee. Doesn’t stop you being whole of market.

  • Steve Waterhouse 3rd December 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Abbey are impossible to work with, their anti business campaign are working harder than ever to turn away quality business. I had a case turned down on affordability which I successfully then placed with ING, client earns over £100K pa and needed £276k over 18 years, she nets £5500 per month, Abbey are a joke and I have added them to my list of banned lenders alongside the equally hopeless Accord Mortgages.

  • Simon Collis 3rd December 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Don’t know what all the fuss is about. We swear at out Abbey BDM all the time and he gives it back just as vehemently!! It’s called a good old-fashioned working relationship!!

    Why don’t you conduct a poll amongst brokers to see who’s happy with ther service Abbey provide? Having said that, don’t bother, we all know what the answer would be!

  • Jonathan Burridge 3rd December 2012 at 11:49 am

    Mr Lakey,

    Have you submitted the offending emails to Mortgage Strategy for publication? Would like to see what you said that was so shocking and threatening to their reputation……….

  • Bobby 3rd December 2012 at 11:37 am

    This beggars belief ! Everyone working in this industry has know for the last 5 years lenders and particularly ones like Abbey have treated mortgage brokers like something they have trodden in, with utter contempt , pick them up when they want with a ” 7 day deal ” and then they turn the tap off ridiculous underwriting and rubbish rates so the business dries up. No consistancy. They also held back a brokers proc fee without recourse on a fasttrack dispute. I have bitten my tongue on numerous occassions but don’t blame Mr Lakey for finally “losing it “. To then make it headline news is cowardly to say the least but we all know we can expect no symapthy from lenders or the FSA.

  • The Cynical Broker 3rd December 2012 at 11:35 am

    Asking a lender to grow up, or use common sense, is like aksing the sun not to shine!

    Abbey is just typical of a number of lenders who continually offer products that can’t be ignored, and then hinder the process with a never ending series of piecemeal requests for information, many of which are duplicated.

    “More Common Sense”, says the FSA, “Pointless, nit-picking and adherence to beauracratic process”, reply the lenders!

  • shock horror 3rd December 2012 at 11:25 am

    How can a company who on their own website advertises themselves as “whole of market” be removing lenders from their panel?????

    Im sure the FSA would have something to say about advertising yourself as whole of market when, by your own admittance on here, you actually aren’t!

  • Trevor Mackey 3rd December 2012 at 11:18 am

    It is a shame the lenders do not apply the same criteria to themselves. I sympathise with Mr Lakey’s frustration. I cannot condone abusive behaviour. Unfortunately the lenders make the rules up as they go, are totally unprofessional, incompetent and obstructive. Roll on the day we have competition in this market, the big banks are broken up and can no longer control the market and ignore regulators. Why not have local branch based underwriters. Thers is a radical thought. A bank providing customer service? Sorry think I’m in wonderland!

  • John Lacy 3rd December 2012 at 11:11 am

    It says a lot about Santander (to their detriment) that they choose to go public about a dispute between a broker and themselves
    I think that it is a total disgrace to act in this unethical manner.
    I hope that Abbey senior management get to read this thread as it may warn them against such a high-handed approach in future.

  • Jonathan Burridge 3rd December 2012 at 10:54 am

    Someone once said to me that if you are not prepared to take ownership of a view then it is probably best not to air it, just a point for “Anonymous”….

    We don’t know what went on and I am sure that Santander did not take this decision lightly. I am certainly not going to make a judgement without all the facts, but is no-one else alarmed by this?? What happened to “Sticks and Stones may break my bones…..”?

    I am not condoning aggressive or abusing language or behaviour, but, what must Mr Lakey have had to endure, bearing in mind his Council Member Status of a trade body, to make him act in such a way. He has been struck off a lenders list because he spoke to them in a way they didn’t like???????

    Come on, grow up everyone.

  • Ben Wall 3rd December 2012 at 10:53 am

    I sympathise, I regularly feel like swearing at Abbey’s staff. They pass the buck to the broker for everything, even their own (regular) incompetance and ridiculously overzealous underwriting.

  • We're all Doomed!! 3rd December 2012 at 10:42 am

    The fact is that Santander’s systems are shocking – staff there have to put up with numerous workarounds, systems that do not work, and multiple criteria changes that are found only by reading extremely long documents (i.e. not built into the process).

    This is across their business, not just Intermediary Mortgage Processing, and it is getting beyond a joke.

    The staff there face a contant battle in order to just do their job, but are hampered at every turn.

    They take the brunt of customer frustrations – in this case, a highly respected intermediary. Alan’s comments that he cannot have a conversation with anyone who can make a decision is typical of the generally poor service offered by this Bank, who seem more interested in getting their staff to make daily pledges on how much business they must write, without any consideration as to how they are equipped to write it.

    Santander – it is time for you to update your systems – expensive? – Yes, but absolutely critical for you.

  • John Lacy 3rd December 2012 at 10:38 am

    Thanks for having the courage to put your name to your post “anonymous” so I don’t know how much you have to deal with the staff at lenders like Santander.
    A lot of them have absorbed their instruction manual wholesale to the detriment of their ability to use common sense and a little understanding of someone else’s view point.
    I will not condone the use of “abusive” (again open to interpretation) language but I can quite understand what drove Mr Lakey to state his dis-satisfaction with the teatment of his client and himself

  • Alan Lakey 3rd December 2012 at 10:38 am

    Of course, the headline always tends to obscure the reality.

    Last week I advised Abbey that I had removed them from my panel due to their corporate imbecility.

    To dress this up as them removing me is to rewrite history.

    Abbey chose to release the correspondence aiming to discommode or embarrass me. Didn’t work.

    The ‘abuse’ was directed to Abbey, not their staff who, in the main, I find to be pleasant and who i feel sorry for labouring under the rigid nonsense that purports to be their lending policy.

  • Phil Reading 3rd December 2012 at 10:33 am

    I am a Mortgage Broker and although there is no excuse for being abusive, I can understand Mr Lakey’s frustration. Many lenders appear to work these days with the mindset: what obstacle can we use to avoid giving this customer a mortgage! There are times when such ridiculous and unyielding criteria makes you want to pull your hair out. For example: I have a client earning £250,000 per year through rental income. His property portfolio is in excess of £5M. One of the major high street lenders will not give him a buy to let mortgage because he cannot show a minimum of £20K earned income. It beggars belief!

  • Andy 3rd December 2012 at 10:24 am

    I totally agree with anonymous 10:10’s comment, “professionals should not conduct themselves in this manner”, in their defence, I don’t think anyone would ever regard Santander as “professional”!

  • Phil 3rd December 2012 at 10:23 am

    Having dealt with ALan as a BDM many years ago he was alway polite and professional. I am rather surprised that he has overstepped the mark but if he has then yes staff should not have to put up with it.

  • jc 3rd December 2012 at 10:22 am

    very peculiar story to be released. would you really want clients googling about your firm and finding this?

  • Jon 3rd December 2012 at 10:19 am

    I agree, If you can’t deal with rigid lender underwriting then you are in the wrong business!

  • robert lundon 3rd December 2012 at 10:10 am

    maybe Santander should look at training their staff and tell the truth when you call them. I now refuse to use this lender at all now as it was taking them a month to get a offer of loan out

  • shock horror 3rd December 2012 at 10:10 am

    “following accusations” – surely if he has sent 2 e-mails, as the story states, and those e-mails contained abusive language it isnt an “accusation”, its a fact!

    Serves him right for this if you ask me, professionals should not conduct themselves in this manner.


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