Portman removed from Openwork panel after service survey

Ramesh Sharma

June 1, 2004

Its Mortgage Advisory Panel (MAP) survey, which asked for feedback from 200 of its advisers, covered all aspects of the proposition provided from lenders including products, technology, underwriting, case processing, KFIs, documentation, complaint-handling and sales development.

Openwork said the decision to remove Portman was based on a number of factors including poor MAP results, feedback from members, volumes of business and profitability.

The Mortgage Works (TMW), the subsidiary lender of Portman, was also in the bottom end of lenders. Bristol & West, Capital Home Loans, NatWest, Scottish Widows and the Woolwich complete the bottom seven.

HBOS dominated the top of the table. Halifax was best overall lender, coming in the top quartile in five of the seven categories explored. It was closely followed by BM Solutions, Alliance & Leicester, Bank of Scotland and GMAC-RFC. In total, the HBOS Group accounted for four of the top seven highest-rated lenders.

Mortgage Introducer asked a selection of the top and bottom lenders from the survey to give their reactions.

Matthew Wyles, group development director at Portman, said: “We always welcome constructive feedback from our partners. The Openwork survey results were, in the case of both Portman and TMW, based upon a handful of respondents and it is clear therefore that Portman’s exit from the Openwork panel is based upon a broader commercial rationale.

“ TMW has had a hugely successful year and we readily admit this growth has led to service pressures. Our investment plans for 2006 address these issues and we look forward to an enduring and fruitful partnership with Openwork.”

David Finlay, intermediary business director at the Woolwich, said it was extremely disappointed to see the results of the survey but added: “We have seen this as an opportunity to gain objective feedback on our performance. We are already in dialogue with Openwork and are developing an action plan. We are determined to do whatever is required to continue this vital relationship and to ensure that the next survey shows Openwork promoting our success.”

Mark Howell, head of marketing at Bristol & West, said: “While the results from this survey are disappointing, feedback we have received from our customers over recent months has been extremely positive and reflects the developments we have made this year. These improvements have helped us experience strong sales in a benign market and I am confident this will be reflected in future surveys.”

Martin Reynolds, head of sales at BM Solutions, said: “We are extremely pleased to be placed so highly. The most important aspect for BM is how brokers rate us. Positive results such as this do not mean we will rest on our laurels; we continuously look for ways to improve and develop further. The lenders at the lower-end of the results need to take this feedback seriously. To survive in the industry you must give brokers what they need.”

Peter Izard, senior manager corporate accounts at GMAC-RFC, said: “These results are fantastic and a credit to the hard work of all our staff. We have only been working with Openwork for four months and it is a top five distributor of ours.”

Mehrdad Yousefi, head of intermediary mortgages at Alliance & Leicester, said: “The findings really demonstrate we are committed to providing brokers with a range of highly competitive products, a market-leading online system and a first-class service. This sort of independent recognition is great to receive and it is a big incentive for us to maintain and enhance our offering to the valued intermediary market.”

Paul Shearman, mortgage proposition director, commercial development at Openwork, said: “Clearly some lenders were delighted with the results and some not. We’re disappointed with all bottom seven lenders. We’ve asked them to come up with action plans on how to improve so they don’t end up in the bottom quartile in the next survey, due in December.”

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