A combination of regulatory changes, criteria tweaks and new products means it is impossible to keep on top of everything and find time to advise and make a living.
Technology helps, of course, and has made the process of sourcing and applying for a mortgage much easier for brokers. No more faxes and fewer postal delays are a great benefit of the digital revolution, but technology cannot solve every issue on its own.
Even if it could, brokers simply cannot be expected to remember the peculiarities of every lender’s submission system, and they each have their quirks, especially those you do not use very often.
That is why the key to improving service and support for brokers lies, not with a lender’s tech, but with its people.
The human touch
The best lenders invest in their people as well as their technology, to support brokers when they need an answer that cannot be found online, or to literally help them navigate a new system.
After all, you can struggle for hours to upload a document onto a lender’s website you are unfamiliar with or, if that lender has a knowledgeable and efficient helpdesk, they can help you sort it in five minutes.
A professional on the other end of the phone is often all a broker needs to solve their query quickly.
This need for offline support becomes even more apparent outside of mainstream lending, especially areas of the market you might not often come across.
At BM Solutions, we’ve seen this happen with portfolio lending cases. Unless you are a specialist buy-to-let broker, you will not deal with as many of these cases as you do with first-time buyer mortgages, for example.
As you know, lenders now need to see more information to assess the affordability of landlords with four or more properties, and that has led to changes in how brokers submit cases for their portfolio landlord clients.
In practice it means more online forms to complete and more documentation to upload. And if you only do a handful of portfolio buy-to-let cases a year you might not have even used some lenders’ systems yet.
To add to the challenge, there are stark differences between submission processes across portfolio lenders, not least because each may have partnered with different third parties to be help assess landlord portfolios.
It’s no secret that processing times slowed across the market when portfolio lending rules came in, and they still have not caught up with non-portfolio lending.
Making it simpler
While the rules have changed, the people have not.
These landlords are still your clients and their needs have not become any more complex. Of course, you do not necessarily want to refer them to a packager for specialist support. And you should not have to.
Lenders just need to make it easier for you.
We know portfolio cases can be time-consuming and difficult to complete online. So we have changed some of our documents to make them more straightforward.
But that is not enough. We recognise you still want to be able to chat to an expert to ensure you get it right first time.
BM launched a dedicated support team in October to help brokers with portfolio buy-to-let applications.
Our team of professionals deal specifically with these cases, so they understand which elements brokers find difficult and the specific documentation required.
Brokers have told us they value having one contact taking ownership of their case and the ability to contact them directly. Moreover, our application to offer times on portfolio business have halved since we introduced the team.
Not every broker needs a dedicated support team to help them complete a portfolio buy-to-let application, of course, particularly those specialists who have used our system many times.
But the service is there for them too, as well as for those who have never submitted a portfolio buy-to-let case before. For more details on the Portfolio Landlord team, and also to view an introduction to the team from Phil Rickards, head of BM Solutions, please click on the following link: https://www.bmsolutions.co.uk/portfoliolandlord
We will continue to invest in our technology because we believe it makes things better for brokers, but will never rely on it alone. We know it is our experienced people that solve your problems and lead to the best outcomes for your clients.
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If you do not have professional experience, you should not rely on the information contained in this communication. If you are a professional and you reproduce any part of the information contained in this communication to be used with or to advise private clients, you must ensure it conforms to the Financial Conduct Authority’s advising and selling rules. Birmingham Midshires is a division of Bank of Scotland plc. Registered in Scotland No. SC327000. Registered Office: The Mound, Edinburgh EH1 1YZ. Bank of Scotland plc is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 169628. This information is correct as of December 2019 and is relevant to Birmingham Midshires products and services only.