In recent years, a host of lenders have opened up access for brokers to discuss cases in detail with underwriters in a bid to process cases more efficiently.
Paul Flavin, managing director of Zing Mortgages, said that if brokers have to go through a helpdesk, they are likely to get different answers to the same question depending on who they speak to.
He continued: “Speak to an underwriter and it’s a whole different matter. You are actually talking to someone with the authority to pass a case, so for an adviser there is more confidence in the advice offered.”
A better chance of case approval
Stuart Gregory, managing director of Lentune Mortgage Consultancy, said that access to underwriters can help boost the relationship between all parties.
He continued: “It enables the underwriter to better understand the case. I’ve had cases where speaking directly to an underwriter has explained a situation which they weren’t previously comfortable with – and led to a mortgage offer being issued.”
Sebastian Riemann, financial consultant at Libra Financial Planning, praised Accord for making a point of allowing brokers to speak with the underwriters assigned to specific cases.
He added: “This makes it easy to supply the correct information at the first attempt and also explain complex or difficult scenarios. Having one individual assessing a case also provides for consistency in how the rules are applied.”
Andrew Montlake, director at Coreco, said that speaking to the person who will sign off the case, rather than going through a third party, ensures “things do not get lost in translation”.
He adds: “I have had examples of numerous cases having issues and a 10 minute chat with the underwriter clears things up. This works both ways and sometimes the underwriter can make what seems to be an irrational decision make perfect sense and means the broker will think again and accept their decisions. It is all about communication.”
He noted that lenders such as Clydesdale and Halifax are particularly good at this, while the high value lending teams at Santander, NatWest and Barclays also use underwriter access well.
Note who you are speaking to
Flavin argued it was important that brokers always make a note of the underwriter they are speaking to, as well as the time and date of the conversation. This way, if the submitted application is handled by a different underwriter who then finds fault with it, there is the possibility of redress with the lender.
He added: “This also applies to helpdesk staff, but if it’s the helpdesk advice that’s incorrect there’s less chance of anything happening than if the advice came from an underwriter.”
Previously, BDMs were essentially case managers, updating brokers on whether a case had been accepted or rejected and the reasoning behind the decision. With increased access to underwriters, is that role changing?
Gregory said: “There are great BDMs who can create this contact point, but also there are some BDMs who you only hear from when they want a vote in some industry awards, or if they are going on holiday. A good BDM relationship is regular contact, even just by email, on a monthly basis.”
Riemann added that BDM support is still essential as “they are the first underwriters in the process, who can discuss criteria and suitability of potential cases”.