Opening at weekends shouldn’t be a priority

Bob Hunt

March 13, 2018

Bob Hunt is chief executive of Paradigm Mortgage Services

Being part of an organisation that has pushed for a much closer relationship between advisers and our lender partners, you would think there wouldn’t be any area of business where I didn’t want ‘more’ from lenders.

More retention procuration fees for advisers? Absolutely. More acknowledgment of advisers within lender communications to clients? Certainly. More of a commitment to better tech, systems and processes for use by intermediaries? It goes without saying.

However, I saw a recent request and did wonder whether it was completely necessary but, at the same time, can appreciate that in some instances it would be a ‘nice to have’ for some advisers.

This was around a call for lenders to be ‘open for business’ not just during the working week but also over weekends, with a number of advisers talking about the fact their business is not 9-5, Monday to Friday, and it would be helpful if they could, for example, have decisions from lenders over the weekend, rather than having to wait until Monday.

In the great scheme of things it might not seem a ‘big deal’ for advisers to ask for this – after all, I’m currently sat in the middle of a huge snow storm that has meant many people simply haven’t been able to get into their offices and therefore a backlog of work might well be gathering which will need dealing with at some point.

In this situation, it would certainly be helpful if lenders were open over the weekend to work through this, but part of me wonders whether it is really necessary for the other 51 weekends in the year.

Certainly, I understand why some advisers might appreciate access to lenders over a weekend, rather than having to deal with the rush on the Monday – indeed it might be a good idea to introduce, perhaps at the very least, a Saturday morning ‘open for business’ structure.

And of course, we’re all aware that being a mortgage adviser – as mentioned above – doesn’t tend to mean a traditional ‘working day’ especially when many people want to deal with their mortgage/financial arrangements when they’re back from work in the evening, or over the weekend.

Having that ability to deal with, and provide tangible feedback, to clients immediately would – in these circumstances – be helpful and it would certainly show a level of intent and commitment from advisers that matched a potential client’s wants and needs. So, in that respect, I’m sure some ability to provide lender services over the weekend might be utilised and appreciated.

And yet I have something of a nagging doubt, because there is also something called work/life balance which I’m rather keen on as both a working individual and in terms of the people who work with me.

I suppose at Paradigm we’re lucky in that we have individuals who will respond to queries and questions out of hours and over the weekend, but would I really want them spending their entire weekends doing this?

We all put a lot into our working lives which is fine, but there’s also much to be said for having down/leisure time where we can switch off and recharge the batteries. That’s the case whether you work for yourself, or work for a larger institution like a lender.

Would waiting until a Monday for a decision really impact too much on the adviser/client relationship?

It shouldn’t if you’ve been able to manage expectations and I think most clients would certainly appreciate an email reply or quick phone call from their adviser over the weekend, but they wouldn’t necessarily expect you to have ‘sewn up a case’ with a lender out of traditional working hours.

There are many things we might expect of lenders – indeed it’s been incredibly positive to see the Nationwide, for example, about to reference adviser channels in its client communications and let’s hope others follow its lead – but I’m not sure weekend opening should be the highest of all priorities.

If lenders want to offer this then all well and good, but in the great scheme of things, I believe there are other areas which we should prioritise first. Weekend opening should remain a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘must have’.

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