Black & White Bridging appoints head of underwriting
McLaren joins from loan review firm Rockstead, where she specialised in advising on short-term property finance portfolios for corporate clients. She also has over 15 years of underwriting experience with Bank of Ireland and Bath & West Finance.
McLaren will oversee the underwriting team and work with Nicholas Goss, the lender’s head of investment and capital markets, to develop products in line with funding demand.
Damien Druce, commercial director at Black & White Bridging, said: “With Lyn’s arrival, our senior management team is now complete for the next phase of Black & White’s development.
“Lyn brings with her an immense knowledge of the bridging and development market and we and our introducers will benefit hugely from her experience and expertise.”
McLaren (pictured) added: “I see this as a fantastic opportunity to contribute to the growth of Black & White Bridging.
“My skills are particularly well suited to the position based on my experience built up over many years in the lending industry. I am excited by this new position and look forward to helping Black & White become one of the pre-eminent lenders in this market.”
United Trust Bank launches online DIPs and auto-underwriting process
The auto-underwrite system analyses an applicant’s circumstances to provide a tailored response to their application.
It informs brokers of any additional information needed to reach a full mortgage application such as accounts for self-employed borrowers or further employment documents depending on the borrower’s profession.
The online DIP aims to give brokers a real-time decision with a pass, refer or decline outcome given following the application process which UTB said takes three to five minutes to complete.
If the product requested does not fit criteria, alternatives will be suggested.
The DIP is integrated into UTB’s credit search and auto valuation model to provide a 30-day decision.
These new enhancements follow UTB’s recently launched document upload functionality and are expected to improve turnaround times and increase broker conversions.
Buster Tolfree (pictured), director – mortgages, United Trust Bank, said: “There’s a lot of activity in the mortgage market but brokers aren’t necessarily getting the speedy service from lenders they deserve, especially with their more difficult-to-place cases.
“These latest process enhancements will enable brokers to quickly obtain a DIP, be referred to a specialist underwriter for further help or get a swift decline, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and our auto-underwrite system should help accepted cases fly through to a quick full mortgage offer.”
Aspen Bridging hires two to underwriting team
Wilson will take on the role of underwriter, whilst Iqbal (pictured) will join as an underwriter and risk team member.
Wilson joins from Precise Mortgages where she was a mortgage loan processor for nearly two years, and before that she was an administrative assistant.
Iqbal was formally at Latham & Watkins where he was a M&A virtual intern and before that held roles at Bright Network, Cooks and Citizens Advice.
The company has been hiring extensively this year, recruiting Ian Miller-Hawes to the newly created role of sales head, appointing Laura Randall as an underwriter and Jonathan Caddy as a senior IT developer.
Aspen director Jack Coombs noted that April was a record month for the lender, with £23mn in lending recorded, and it was on track for a record-breaking May.
He said: “To meet the increasing workload throughout this year and beyond we need to keep adding staff, and as is the case with Aqib and Katherine we will look to bring in more recent graduates who we educate through our own comprehensive internal programmes to ensure their service is the best in the industry.”
Digilytics AI launches to UK market to provide ‘first time right’ mortgage applications
The firm received an undisclosed investment from Innovate UK to support its launch and has plans to partner with more lenders later this year.
It uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to enter data onto mortgage applications and minimise errors during the submission and underwriting stage.
It reads documents submitted by a broker or borrower and runs the information against existing mortgage applications for verification. If any information is missing, this is auto filled by Digilytics AI to reduce manual entries.
Where the system is unable to populate data, the application will immediately be flagged so the lender can go back to the broker or borrower for corrections.
The firm said this would reduce the manual intervention from brokers and make cases ready for underwriting with minimal errors.
The technology works better at checking information for existing mortgage holders as their data will typically be held on lender systems. However, Digilytics said with every new application entered the platform continued to learn the data to improve accuracy, in a process which takes two to three days.
Digilytics AI works as a bolt on feature, meaning brokers and lenders who implement the technology to their platforms will not need to make changes to their system.
Arindom Basu (pictured), CEO of Digilytics AI, said brokers and lenders were often “mired in administrative and manual work” due to application entries and errors that prevented them from focusing on other tasks.
He added: “Digilytics AI takes care of the manual procedures involved in submitting validated information at scale from customer documentation.
“From upload to submission, the platform’s AI capabilities assists the borrowers with real-time understanding of errors to improve packaging quality.”
Basu said: “Artificial intelligence is increasingly becoming the yardstick to evaluate new and innovative ways to improve the mortgage origination experience.
“On average, applications are submitted four times before they are accepted and are often incomplete and inconsistent. With first time right applications, brokers and lenders can accelerate time to fund, become truly paperless, leverage online data, accelerate the recovery from the Covid-19 crisis and most importantly the UK’s green initiatives by 2030.”
Virgin Money and Atom Bank execs join Perenna ahead of 30-year mortgage launch
Both have extensive experience in their respective roles, with Moore working for Atom Bank for six years in its underwriting department. Her most recent role was head of underwriting, a position she held for three years.
Thompson joins from Virgin Money, where he worked for nine years most recently as head of mortgage originations. He also previously worked for Northern Rock, Bank of Scotland and Barclays in commercial and corporate banking roles.
Colin Bell (pictured), COO and co-founder of Perenna, said: “We approached Liz and Simon based on our vision to create a customer-centric and technology-driven approach to lending, as it matched their skills and experience.
“Once they heard about our strategy towards lending and our bond backed long-term fixed rate mortgage concept they quickly decided they wanted to be part of building Perenna and bringing it to life at the creative stages.”
Moore and Thompson began working for Perenna on 1 March and will start to build their teams in preparation for the lender’s planned launch of 30-year fixed rate mortgages this summer. It recently completed a £7m funding round to give it the capital to begin developing and providing these products.
The lender is also undergoing the licence process of becoming a pure covered bond bank, with aims to be the first of its kind in the UK.
Moore said: “I’m thrilled to be part of a team so committed to delivering true transformation to the UK mortgage market; ripping up the rule book, fully leveraging data and technology to create lending products that truly work for customers not just now, or for the next couple of years but through their life of homeownership, and all the events that come with it.”
Thompson added: “After speaking to Colin and hearing about Perenna’s ambitions to bring such a compelling customer proposition to the mortgage market, it was an easy decision for me to make the move.
“The ambition of the team to combine a technology-led customer experience, together with an innovative funding model is unique in the UK and I firmly believe Perenna will be well placed to disrupt the market, especially for those customer groups who are currently underserved and will benefit from this refreshing approach.”
Covid-underwriting has levelled playing field between specialist and mainstream lenders – Adams
Mainstream lenders have, on the whole, taken a lighter touch approach to underwriting, using automated data-driven processes to access large volumes of applications, whereas specialist lenders have been more hands-on with their underwriting, using technology to support and enhance a manual process.
Consequently, the expectation has been that a mortgage application to a mainstream lender will be processed more quickly than one submitted to a specialist lender.
Not anymore, however.
The problem with automated data-driven processes is that they require a track record of consistent information in order to make a decision.
They are less effective at assessing an application from a customer who has recently experienced a significant amount of change.
So, in the current environment where everyone’s lives and most people’s finances have been impacted by Covid-19, the large mainstream lenders are having to take a more forensic approach to ensure they continue to make robust decisions, accounting for any recent changes to a customer’s circumstances, particularly when it comes to lending to the self-employed.
This means changing processes and resource models that have been built to support light-touch underwriting, in order to accommodate large numbers of applications that now need a hands-on approach.
Turnaround times equivalent
Specialist lenders have built their entire operational model on the individual assessment of every application and recruited the expertise specifically to do so.
The result is that the perceived difference in turnaround times between mainstream lenders and specialist lenders no longer exists.
All lenders now need to take the time to understand the individual situation of a customer applying for a mortgage.
So all lenders are on a level playing field and as a consequence many mainstream lenders are currently working to significant backlogs, whereas some specialist lenders which are used to this way of working are up-to-date across their application processing.
For brokers who have not worked with specialist lenders in the past, because they have worried about the impact of individual underwriting on timescales, there has never been a better time to work with a specialist.
When it comes to choosing which lender you will recommend, take a look online at the published service levels to see which type of lender might provide your client with the better experience.
‘We want to return to 90 per cent LTV in a way that protects brokers’ – Kensington
Speaking to Mortgage Solutions, new business director Craig McKinlay (pictured) said he was “not a fan” of going in and out of the market for limited periods as the lender preferred to take a measured approach and avoid spikes in service levels.
McKinlay added: “We’re thinking about how we can introduce it [90 per cent LTV] in a sensitive way that protects brokers and gives them some certainty.
“We’ve always written a lot of business at 90 per cent LTV, it’s always been our bestselling product but there’s so much demand and so few lenders that we can’t go back to 90 everywhere. We’ll just get overwhelmed, service would get bad then we’d have to pull out or change things,” McKinlay said.
Instead, the lender could potentially release low deposit mortgages on a smaller scale, rather than opening it up to the whole of market.
McKinlay said: “What we might do is launch it very selectively or on a tranche basis or some kind of limited distribution then open it up over time.”
Government 95 per cent mortgage scheme
McKinlay suggested the government’s plans to introduce 95 per cent mortgages could go further to encourage lenders back into the high LTV market.
He said: “It looks quite similar to the first version of Help to Buy we had in 2013. That worked well because at that time lenders weren’t doing high LTV lending similar to today.
“Then what happened is because the scheme was quite expensive for lenders, they decided to do it themselves which was great because that scheme stepped back and lenders stepped in. I think that was the government’s aim.”
However, McKinlay said he had concerns about the success of the scheme as it was not apparent there was any collaboration from the mortgage market.
He also suggested the best time for the initiative to be introduced would be before incentives like the stamp duty holiday close, so lenders have confidence knowing there is “another scheme on the horizon”.
As the lender navigates the current busy market, McKinlay said its staff were back to carrying out normal duties after being reassigned to handle payment holidays.
Additionally, an expansion of its team has brought application to offer time down to 20 days, nearer to what it was before the pandemic.
No employees were furloughed during the property market’s shutdown and the lender has recruited 30 new underwriting and sales employees. As well as this, in-person meetings with brokers have resumed.
“Our sales team are out doing physical visits where brokers are happy to do it and offices are Covid-compliant. We’re looking to get back to business as quickly as possible,” he added.
Adapting to new realities
Looking forward, the lender is hoping to expand into new markets but wants to be innovative in how it does so especially since it adopted a new platform which has given it the capacity to do so.
“Our new IT platform gives us capability to enter new markets. One of the reasons we moved to it is it’s much faster to launch new things,” McKinlay said.
He added: “There’s a whole list of things we don’t do currently, like shared ownership, expat buy-to-let and holiday let. So, we’re reviewing all those segments to look at which ones we want to enter.
“Our whole thing is we want to innovate like we did with our Eco and Heroes mortgages, we don’t want to have the same proposition as everybody else we want to come up with something different.”
He also said the lender was having conversations about what new markets might emerge following the pandemic as existing schemes end and people’s living habits change.
McKinlay said: “There are conversations about private shared equity to replace Help to Buy, mortgage indemnity guarantees, different things like that and we’re keen to be at the forefront.
“Now is the time to innovate. The market has been stuck in two- and five-year fixes since the last crisis. Covid has brought a lot of changes to people’s lives and circumstances so it’s our duty to look at how we respond to that and how our proposition fits the new reality.”
Hands-on underwriting requires proactive and honest communication from lenders – Adams
The property market has been given a shot of adrenaline by the limited period stamp duty holiday and mortgage applications have skyrocketed, with many brokers saying they have never been busier.
At the same time, lenders are addressing every application with more scrutiny, which means the process is taking longer and the system is becoming clogged up.
So, why are lenders taking longer to review each case and what can brokers and lenders do to improve the situation?
Big shift for lenders
The first thing to consider is that complex is the new normal.
With so many millions of people being furloughed or taking payment holidays on their mortgage and other credit commitments, cases that were previously straight forward, now have different levels of considerations.
This is before you consider the self-employed, contract workers or people who previously had a record of adverse credit.
So, a more hands-on approach to underwriting and assessing the affordability of each case individually is now commonplace.
And this is a big shift for mainstream lenders.
In an article in Mortgage Solutions on the frustrations being experienced by brokers, Payam Azadi, director and partner at Niche Advice, said: “Historically lenders were confident by the aid of technology, but now more and more cases have to be individually underwritten.
“That’s not a problem for specialist lenders but it is for a volume lender. All of a sudden, they have to put a series of manual processes in.”
Communication is critical
It’s fair to say that the requirement to take a more rigorous approach to underwriting isn’t just reserved for mainstream lenders.
Any prudent lender in the current uncertain and unprecedented environment should be taking more steps in its underwriting process to ensure the mortgage will be sustainable and affordable.
However, specialist lenders have built their businesses on taking a hands-on approach to underwriting and so now that this is required on nearly every case, it’s specialist lenders that have the expertise in how to manage, not just the underwriting, but also the process.
A key part of the process is communication.
Specialist lenders often require more documentation to support an application than a broker might expect from a mainstream lender, and so we have worked hard to evolve our processes to ensure we ask for everything upfront and communicate openly with a broker about how these documents are being used and why we need them.
There are also often more contact points along the way working more closely with the broker.
The reality of the current situation is that cases are sometimes taking longer to process and that can be frustrating.
Clear communication and honest dialogue are the two things that can help reduce this frustration and, in the specialist market, these are qualities that have been important to all lenders in recent years as we have identified ways to best support our hands-on approach to underwriting.
Now that hands-on underwriting is becoming more common, so too should proactive communication and honest dialogue.
‘We have fewer issues where BDMs are still in contact’ – Star Letter 25/09/2020
The first this week was under the article: Correctly packaged cases will complete quicker – iVent2020.
Terry Arch said: “It’s okay asking to ensure the case is packaged correctly, but a lot of the problem is if there is a query and the broker responds to it, some lenders take 11 to 18 working days to get back.
“Then, if there is another query, a further period of the same length can result in an excess of 22 to 36 days before it goes to valuation. The issue at present is Covid-19 is causing lenders to be extra cautious.”
BDMs necessary in reducing underwriting hold-up
The second comment was in response to the article: Mortgage brokers disputing more underwriter decisions than before pandemic – analysis.
Arron Bardoe said: “I suspect these issues will continue until the business development managers (BDMs) are allowed to engage with brokers again, as we are experiencing fewer issues where the BDMs have been able to maintain contact.
“For some lenders, the BDMs are helping with the backlogs of admin and most seem to be dealing with herculean levels of enquiries.”
He added: “However, one might argue that a BDM’s role is to educate brokers, so it is only the right business is submitted and that it is packaged correctly.”
Underwriting time has quadrupled under lender pandemic strain – iVENT 2020
Speaking at the virtual conference iVENT 2020 , Hegarty said a lender had alerted him to the new timescales as a spike in activity added to the pressure already on firms tackling changes in borrowers’ financial situations.
He said: “That’s a huge difference [in timescales] and that’s a real strain on the capacity of how many cases an underwriter can look at in a single day.”
Hegarty said the additional information required by lenders was drawing out the underwriting process. Where 18 months of income would have been enough before, it does not tell a lender how a business is performing under current circumstances.
How to navigate lender delays
Hegarty said brokers could combat issues around service levels by thinking like an underwriter when submitting an application and giving as much detail as possible.
“The more information you give an underwriter the better, if not they’ll just ask for it anyway.
“You can ensure there is no delay as a result of something you’ve done. When you fill in an application, fill them in 100 per cent completed. Don’t leave any ‘to be confirmed’ address fields, it’s just going to cause a delay,” he said.
Hegarty also suggested brokers log all conversations with lenders in case it needed to be referenced later or used to defend a complaint.
He said brokers should ask clients how quickly they wanted to receive a mortgage offer so they could make informed decisions about which lender to choose.
Hegarty said: “Now is a really good time to understand what service levels are. There’s nothing wrong with excluding or including a lender based on their service levels.
“If time is really important to a customer, that’s a really good justification for why you’ve chosen a particular lender even when they don’t have the best rate.”