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Nationwide ranked worst for service in network survey

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  • 23/06/2016
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Nationwide ranked worst for service in network survey
Nationwide’s service levels have come under fire after brokers ranked the society bottom out of 10 lenders in a survey covering quarter one, conducted by Personal Touch Financial Services (PTFS).

The network’s members were asked to rank lenders on their service, products, confidence in using them and the quality of their business development manager (BDM) support.

The building society scored lowest for its service, just below Accord Mortgages, and seventh place for its BDM team, but shot to the top of the table for its products.

Brokers voted Platform and Accord ninth and 10th respectively for BDM support and the confidence which brokers had in using them, while Platform scraped the bottom of the table on products allowing Halifax to escape last position.

Despite brokers showing a lack of enthusiasm for Halifax’s mortgage products in the first quarter of the year, it topped the lender league for service and brokers’ confidence in using them. RBS scored consistently well in all four categories securing second place in all areas except for BDM support, where it edged ahead of Halifax to claim first position.

Gary Fairhall, company director, The Mortgage Shop, a member of the PTFS network, said he was not surprised Nationwide had landed in last place for its service, describing the lenders’ underwriting processes as ‘rigid’ and ‘black and white’. He said the building society had a ‘tick box mentality’ when it came to assessing cases.

“Its underwriting is too rigid, that’s my biggest bug bear,” said Fairhall. “I’d like to see them apply common sense a lot more.”

He used the example of a recent case he had submitted which underwriters had ‘quibbled’ over because the applicants’ payslips were not consistent after his client had been paid for extra shifts.

“I don’t understand why it was issue, he had clean credit and the case had come in at around 30 to 40% loan-to-value,” Fairhall added.

“Perhaps there are internal training issues because some team members are fairly new, but at present Nationwide’s service is very frustrating for brokers.”

Tom Cleary, senior mortgage adviser at Charles Cameron & Associates, said Nationwide’s service had suffered because it had priced its products so low it was being swamped with business which it could not manage. “Its products are really competitive but there is nothing more frustrating than not being able to cope with the amount of business you have generated yourself,” he said.

He added: “It needs to price its products a little higher which will allow it to offer better service, and ironically it will end up with more business this way.”

Accord was criticised for having systems which were ‘stuck in the dark ages’.

Its credit-score was labelled as unreliable and inconsistent, which one broker said threw out cases if the address was not keyed in, in a certain way. Fairhall heaped praise on his Accord BDM for his efforts in trying to help get cases to be accepted but said he was too busy fighting fires because the lender’s proposition was so poor.

Accord has recently completed a programme which has seen it upskill its processors to be underwriters in a bid to improve its offering, but Fairhall said the lender needed focus on its front-end systems as much as its underwriting if it wanted to instill confidence back into its intermediaries.

“I want to see a proactive approach from Accord, I want it to say ‘ I can see you don’t use us, what can we offer you?’ rather than sitting back and waiting for someone to submit a case,” he added.

Cleary said if Accord wanted to change the opinion of brokers, it needed to shout louder about the improvements it had made and be less ‘woolly’ with its decisions..

On Halifax’s low rating for products, brokers said pricing had greatly improved in quarter two but its decision to reduce its income multiple to four times for loans of £500,000 and above was unhelpful for the London market.

A spokeswoman for Accord said: “We are naturally disappointed to see where Accord is ranked in the survey. We are working closely with PTFS to ensure that we provide the best possible sales support to its membership through our recently expanded BDM and telephony BDM sales team.

“We have heavily invested in our broker support and underwriting teams recently, and we are confident that intermediaries across all networks will have begun to experience an improved service and benefited from the positive changes that we have been introducing this year to our intermediary proposition.”

Neil Wyatt, head of sales, Platform, said: “We work with our key partners to develop our overall intermediary proposition, customer feedback really helps and I look forward to working closely with Personal Touch and their members to continue shaping our proposition.”

A spokesperson for Halifax Intermediaries said: “We value all broker comments and it is important that we shape our products accordingly to ensure they meet our customers’ needs.

“We regularly review this feedback, which not only enables us to enhance the way in which we do business, but to innovate, improve and respond by developing new solutions as demand continues to evolve.”

Nationwide declined to comment.

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