While that may be the case for those who need immediate direct banking access, when it comes to the mortgage market, brokers are constantly working to ensure that when such things out of their control occurs, anything they can do on their end will result in their client’s needs being handled swiftly and with little issue.
So this week Mortgage Solutions asked brokers: How do you manage system outages at lenders?
We don’t really suffer many actual full-blown outages at all.
Lenders, just like any business, upgrade their websites and usually do so out of office hours. They are mostly also quite keen to issue an advance downtime warning, but as all lenders have numerous contact points, any outages are really only just a minor inconvenience.
Criteria can always be checked via a number of other resources which we have available. The only real issue when websites are disrupted, and systems are down is when we need to have access to keyfacts illustration (KFI) production to present and submit a case.
We can usually manage this inconvenience too, via the ‘file note’ process. But overall, none of this happens very often at all.
Usually if we need to call a lender, it’s to discuss a quirky case or double check criteria. Sometimes the client is waiting on the answer too, so timing can be an issue.
We have strong relationships with most of our lenders and their business development managers and can usually speak directly with them to assist with any challenges that may occur.
To manage this, we can arrange times out of standard working hours which is sometimes okay for the client albeit its less convenient for us – but that’s always been part of the job.
Generally, I receive advanced notification from the lender that it’s going to happen, and we do also find that lenders mostly go the extra mile to put things right as soon as possible. Communication is generally prompt.
Regarding our own system, we outsource our own IT support and instead concentrate on being proactive and productive brokers.
It all depends on whether the system outage is a planned operation or an unexpected bug or failure in the system.
Most lenders schedule planned maintenance outside of normal working hours which is highly appreciated, but unintentional outages can occasionally happen.
I only get to find out about those ones if I am in the lender’s portal or get an email update. As I am ‘whole of market’ with a large lender panel, the chances of me being affected in the middle of an application are fairly slim. If it is an update I need, nine times out of 10 I can wait without too much inconvenience.
Whether a planned outage or not, the main objective is to continue to meet client expectations. If that means providing extra communication and coming back to the office later when the family have gone to bed, then I will.
Outages do not happen that often so I can easily absorb these things on an occasional basis.
I think from a lender’s point of view, it is a black and white scenario. They want to keep mortgage brokers working just as much as mortgage brokers need to work, so at least we are all singing from the same song sheet.
Lenders invest significantly in providing high quality systems which are well maintained. I would expect there are procedures in place to deal with unplanned outages. Lenders tend to communicate well under the circumstances.
As for our own in-house arrangements, we believe that investing in good quality scalable systems is essential, and preparation for outages should be anticipated.
We find that outages with lenders are far more infrequent compared to a few years ago and they do not tend to have a huge impact.
The biggest issue for us is typically a provider’s system only working on certain web browsers or when you are looking to key in a case late at night and there is maintenance taking place.
Of course, we realise that overall, the evening is the least disruptive time for this to occur.
If there is an issue during working hours it is a case of updating the client so we can manage their expectations. We find lender communication to be strong when this does occur, as it may take some time to catch up on any delays that have been caused.
Internally at OnPoint Mortgages everyone works remotely which does provide protection against issues with the power supply or phone lines, along with the use of mobiles.
In regard to our customer relationship management (CRM) system there is protocol around reporting any problems as soon as possible and keeping the customer informed.