The pair continue to dual-run the broker side until the handover completes in June, with plenty of change ahead for the bank including a refresh of its buy-to-let proposition and a transformation of their back office processing.
Speaking exclusively to Mortgage Solutions, Felstead said the team, driven by Gary Sutherland, distribution director, has been working hard to incorporate learnings from the pandemic, including improving its service proposition and the next steps in its evolution.
“Following something like a pandemic you see the areas that require enhancement and you need to improve on.”
He said there’s been plenty of industry consultation with brokers, networks and sourcing systems to understand what the future ought to look like and how to establish a true end-to-end process both internally and externally.
Christodoulides who will also report to Sutherland, confirmed a raft of changes are underway on the mortgage side at the bank.
“The first change we announced today is a move from a hard footprint to a soft footprint. We are replacing our front-end scoring system with a bespoke, in-house designed system which will give us a lot of benefits and enable us to move faster in the market as well.
“If you get a front-end system right, rather than updating multiple systems, you can simplify and make propositional changes faster.”
Refreshed buy-to-let proposition
“We also want to review and refresh where we sit in the buy-to-let market so you’ll see some changes coming over the next few months,” said Christodoulides.
“We want to develop further into that market.”
The bank is also working towards reducing paper from the mortgage submission process after the decision-engine implementation is complete.
Felstead started in financial services in 1982 and joined RBS on the intermediary side in September 2001 as a corporate account manager.
He progressed through the ranks to head of corporate and then onto head of intermediaries to lead the re-named NatWest Intermediary Solutions in 2009.
He said it was a tough time, post-credit crunch and at that time brokers were simply not a focus for the bank. However, Felstead said he was allowed to open the door to broker business which has meant a quadrupling of volumes since 2009.
“The proudest thing for me is that we’ve become a top three lender and trusted partner. Brokers know what to expect from us and they know what to use us for and our focus has always been service first.”
Career highlights include a raft of awards for individuals and service, including his 2016 business leader award at the British Mortgage Awards.
“I’ve been asked many times by various bosses what do you want to do next. I always said I didn’t want to do anything else. I love the industry, the people I work with both internally and externally and the industry has been forever changing over the last 40 years.
“Now’s the right time to stop and think about what’s next for me personally and professionally. It will be very mixed emotions as I move on from NatWest after all these years, but I am excited to see from the outside looking in what happens. I am really excited about the future, even though I’m not going to be there as the transformation happens. It’s a real second wave of all-important changes for the industry and NatWest.”