Talking to Mortgage Solutions, Fleming explains the strategy he and his team have been working on since taking up the post in December last year to set Scottish Widows clearly apart from Halifax, Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Bank.
Professionals are one of the main target customer groups for Scottish Widows. To serve this segment of the market better, it has undertaken a programme to improve its mortgage underwriting for medical professionals by allying itself with the industry trade bodies.
The bank has enlisted the help of the British Medical Association to train its underwriters on the different income types received by doctors with the goal of tailoring its credit policy to suit the needs of those working in the medical profession.
Fleming (pictured) said the initiative was part of a wider project to promote the bank’s image of being a mortgage provider for professionals and high net worth customers.
“Doctors can receive up to 31 types of income,” said Fleming. “Trying to understand how they vary between primary care trusts is difficult for underwriters.”
The training began in March this year and has now been completed. A formal income policy is set to follow, but Fleming said this is largely already in practice. The bank is also working on improvements to its foreign national policy which will benefit non-British citizens working for the NHS.
“We’ve been working with a group of brokers who specialise in arranging finance for medical professionals, they told us how we can improve our service and products, so that’s what we’re doing,” he said.
One improvement which intermediaries can expect to see is an automated approach to the use of projected income. “If a locum doctor becomes a partner in a GP practice, he or she may not have a track record as a GP, but the practice may have been established for many years,” Fleming explained. “Using projected income for this type of borrower would generate a referral which can be frustrating so we are looking to change that.”
The British Medical Association is the first of many partnerships Scottish Widows plans to establish. Its long-term strategy is to create a ‘professional affinity’ with bodies such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Law Society.