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As a regulated industry we need to deal in facts, not hearsay – Firth

by: Nicola Firth, CEO of Knowledge Bank
  • 02/07/2018
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As a regulated industry we need to deal in facts, not hearsay – Firth
I have spent a great deal of time over recent weeks chatting to brokers and it’s always great to get their perspective on what’s going on in our sector.


As usual during these chats, after what I considered a respectful amount of time, I steer the conversation around to criteria – it’s like I’m obsessed isn’t it?

I was chatting with a lovely broker from the Midlands about how frequently lenders tweak or change their criteria.

I started making the point that lender changes are coming thick and fast at the moment and that it’s not easy to keep up… This was my incredibly subtle way of steering him to a lifetime subscription of our criteria sourcing system.

This professional broker, and a very nice chap with years of mortgage experience, uttered a phrase that sent a shiver down my spine.

He said: “I didn’t look at them because I heard that they’re not going to accept self-employed any more.”

Who did he hear that from? Where did he hear it? Was it from the lender or someone else? How was this person who told him ‘in the know’? Did they have a secret link via a red phone, my imagination was running away with me by now, to the head of lending?

I then thought what did the broker mean by self-employed?

In criteria terms alone we have 13 different conditions relating to the self-employed.

Did he mean that this lender was changing the number of year’s accounts they needed or would be disregarding all self-employed applicants from now on?


The problem with hearsay

His only way to resolve the argument was to give the lender a call and check and that horrified me.

It was his call at his expense and there wasn’t even a guarantee that there would be someone on the end of the line to answer his query as it was now past 5pm.

As an aside; I read a recent survey on the intermediary mortgage market that stated that mortgage brokers spend 25% of their time checking lender criteria.

We continued the chat and after a bit of digging it turned out that the supposed change in criteria was nothing more than hearsay and no, not the 2001 one-hit wonders.

After further investigation we discovered that the supposed change wasn’t even regarding the lender he quoted.

His contact was actually thinking about a different lender altogether.

As a regulated industry we need to deal in facts. If this chance meeting had not happened then this lender would not have been considered, even though they may in fact have offered the most suitable mortgage option.

We report on over 55,000 pieces of criteria from over a hundred lenders and so it’s not difficult to see that even the most proficient rumour-mill would be hard pressed to keep pace.

Please don’t rely on hearsay for your mortgage clients any more than you would rely on that bloke in the pub’s best mate’s brother who ‘knows for sure’ which horse will win the grand national.

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