Lender provider and adviser

Rory Joseph is director and Sebastian Murphy is head of mortgage finance at JLM Mortgage Services

Lender, provider and adviser may not live in perfect harmony, side by side on their respective pianos, keyboards, oh lords, etcetra… but we should be able to reach a point where we are able to work together, to increase efficiencies, and let’s face it, to actual deliver the mortgage products required by borrowers.

Running a network, where we want our advisers and member firms to feel like they’re getting a two-way conversation with lenders and providers and where they are listened to regularly, having that ability to have frank, open and honest conversations with our partners, is vital.

And we want to provide that forum, so new members can come in, have all the benefits of the network, access to the wide range of benefits and opportunities, the compliance coverage and support, but also know that we’re working with forward-thinking lenders who recognise the need for adviser feedback, take it on board and actually do something with it.

Sometimes in our public utterances we get accused of ‘lender bashing’ but these articles, and the examples we use, are not conjured up out of thin air.

Both of us carry out the job of providing mortgage advice every single day, we see clients, we source products, complete applications, and everything else that goes with the job, which we find often goes down well with our AR firms because they understand that we understand exactly what the market is doing and what they are going through.

So, we can see where the log-jams are, where there is terrible service (which should be called out), where lenders are getting it both right and wrong, and where you sometimes have to sit back, scratch your head and just wonder what is going through some people’s minds.

We’ll also freely admit that sometimes advisers don’t do themselves any favours here. For example, spend any time working in the mortgage market and you soon come to the natural conclusion that there is no loyalty as such, which may be viewed as something of a poisoned chalice by both lender and consumer alike, but can certainly work in the favour of the underperforming former at the expense of the latter.

For instance, if you’re a lender going through a period where your service isn’t worth the application form it’s written on, an outsider might consider this to present significant problems.

After all, if you’ve been messed about for weeks, months on end, you would think, at the very least, you’d think twice about recommending that lender again in the near future, or at worst, you’d be putting distance between you and that lender at the end of a very long barge pole.

However, and this is a problem not helped by adviser actions, what can happen within certain advisory practices is that memories are short, rates can dazzle, advisers can be blinded, and the consumer might be enamoured of the rate they could get, but the only problem is they may never get it, and if they do it might take many months to secure.

The adviser will have had that experience, will perhaps know full well they’ll be on a sticky service wicket by recommending that lender/product, but will go with it because “surely their service can’t be as bad as it was back then”.

They will normally get their answer and it will be – to misquote Thomas Hobbes on life – “nasty, brutish and [long]”.

It works both ways though. Lenders have to be honest with advisers when it comes to service. It helps that we have systems like Mortgage Broker Tools and the L&G Criteria hub because that provides us with service knowledge and transparency to allow us to provide data and information to evidence our decision, to go with the lender that will get it done, rather than the one who might just happen to have a decent rate.

But, there are for example, lenders who still don’t give their service level details out, who quite frankly are scraping the bottom of the service barrel, but still think it’s okay to keep releasing market-leading product rates, which will only swamp them more and secure another layer of clients who have to spend weeks, months on end waiting for completion.

We saw a recent interview with the head of one intermediary lender who talked about being “passionate about service” – this following a lengthy period (and this is still ongoing) where the service has been attrocious.

Either that individual has his head in the sand, or is hoping advisers will have short- to medium-term memory loss, because it has been one of the worst culprits for pushing out product when its pipeline isn’t moving.

We don’t want lip service, we want action. Being delusional about your own capabilities is not a good look, and if you were passionate about service, you wouldn’t have let it reach a point where you had to pull back on your lending levels, LTVs, and the like, in order to work through the cases you’d already brought in.

So, while we understand these have been tricky times and the pandemic has thrown a spanner in the works, lenders are also there to lend, and intermediary lenders are there to lend through advisers.

Be honest, cut your cloth accordingly, don’t attempt to fill your yearly order book in a matter of months, and engage with networks and advisers like ourselves.

When we work together, everyone gets an excellent result, especially the client. Who wouldn’t want that outcome?

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