The value of broker feedback, plans for retention proc fees, training all mortgage processors as underwriters to speed up decisions – and egg-juggling mishaps
As intermediary sales manager at Accord, what do you value in broker relationships?
My role has enabled me to build strong relationships in this industry. I’ve learned a lot from my intermediary colleagues and, hopefully, I’ve helped to add value to their businesses.
Feedback and advice from intermediary partners help us to shape and improve our propositions, and also inspire new initiatives.
Accord plans to introduce retention proc fees this year. What was the motivation for this?
We’re committed to developing a long-term partnership with brokers to meet the needs of their clients and help them to grow a sustainable business. We aim to do this by offering competitive rates and an efficient service, but also by recognising the effort brokers make to ensure their client gets the right deal.
Last year we piloted a scheme to pay a proc fee of 0.3 per cent gross for retained business on residential mortgages; we recently extended this to a number of additional partners. We are using the pilot to fine-tune the initiative before rolling it out to the full broker market, which is planned for the second half of 2017.
What impact has the raft of BTL changes seen in the past year had on business?
Since the introduction of the stamp duty levy we’ve seen the purchase market decrease substantially and we anticipate the highs of 2015 will not be achieved again in the coming years.
In 2017 the emphasis will be on remortgages, where we expect volumes to increase. This year will remain challenging for both landlords and lenders: the reforms to the industry as a whole, including the new PRA rules and the reduction of mortgage interest relief, could slow down the buy-to-let market. This means landlords will have to take a step back and review their portfolios.
Is there anything specific you’d like to achieve as a business this year? And what is the hope for the market overall?
During 2016 we made significant improvements to our service. For instance, all colleagues who process mortgage applications are now fully trained underwriters with the authority to make lending decisions. Each case is managed throughout by the same underwriter, who starts by calling the broker to discuss the case; plus the broker can contact the underwriter directly.
These improvements have enabled us to offer quicker lending decisions and reduce our application-to-offer time by six days. We plan to build on them to ensure we offer brokers a more efficient and consistent level of service.
Also, with changing work and lifestyle choices there are more borrowers who may find it less straightforward to access a traditional mortgage, including self-employed and contract workers. We’re exploring innovations to help people buy homes responsibly, by taking a principle-based, common-sense approach to lending.
If you had not chosen this career path, what else would you have liked to do?
I’d have loved to try my hand at becoming a celebrity chef. I’m hooked on Masterchef and always fancied running my own restaurant.
Who is your all-time hero, and why?
Anyone linked to Northern Ireland sporting success. It’s always great to see someone from my home country do well, from George Best to Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy and Carl Frampton.
Do you have any secret talents?
I am a mean juggler, although I’ve had a few mishaps with eggs in the kitchen.
What do you do in your spare time?
I enjoy cycling. I also love travelling and planning my next holiday.
What is the best advice you have received?
When I left home for university, my dad said to me: “No regrets.” He meant ‘Don’t die wondering,’ and it’s always stuck with me.
If you were chancellor for a day, what would be your priorities?
Economic policies that sought to achieve the best outcomes and didn’t pander to audiences; one of many reasons why I’d never be chancellor.