"The mortgage industry was not traditionally a pioneer of technology, but we are starting to see this change. Fintech is making its mark and changing the way lenders, brokers and clients communicate."
We spoke to Jodie White, Manager of Mortgage Support Services at Legal & General Mortgage Club, about how the market has changed over the past decade and what more can be done to help clients with difficult cases.
FR: Your current job title is Manager of Legal & General Mortgage Club Mortgage Support Services, what does your role involve on a day-to-day basis?
I manage our Mortgage Support Services team who deal with over 90,000 calls per year and help support over 9,000 advisers. We have over 65 lenders on our panel who venture to Barnsley to visit the team to ensure we are kept up to date on their lending aspirations and propositions. We also work with brokers to support their lender relationships, helping them to understand what to do in challenging situations and introduce them to the right people. We have over 45 key relationships who we contact, educate and troubleshoot for. No two days are the same for me, which is part of the attraction to my role.
FR: You have worked with the Legal & General Mortgage Club Mortgage Support Services Team for over 11 years, in that time how would you say the mortgage market and lender relations have changed?
A lot has changed over the eleven years since I first began working with the Mortgage Support Services team. Firstly, arguably one of the biggest changes to be introduced into market regulation was the Mortgage Market Review after the financial crash. Ten years on, there is now a much greater focus on responsible lending to customers through intermediary distribution, stress tests and stricter eligibility criteria.
Since that period and the beginning of low interest rates, stricter criteria has also led to more diversity. Over the years, our support team has had to make sure we are fully aware of the variety of lending terms out there when advisers need help on a case. Whether that’s a certain income threshold, the loan term, maximum applicants allowed, or the loan to value and affordability checks – the combinations are endless!
In the past couple of years, we have seen a significant increase in new lenders and products entering the market, which has helped maintain healthy competition and provide consumers with flexibility and choice. We work very closely with our lenders and each year our panel continues to grow. Over the last year we have added six more, including new lenders like Digital Mortgages by Atom Bank and Vida Homeloans.
Lastly, although the top five lenders still play a huge part in providing customers with mortgages, we are also starting to see smaller lenders and building societies fill in the remaining gaps within the market. Specialist lenders saw their gross lending increase by 56% in 2015 and had the largest growth in 2016, while building societies now hold a market share of over a quarter in Q2 2017
FR: Would you say the market has also improved in helping clients with difficult cases?
Yes definitely, we have seen lenders engage with Mortgage Clubs to tailor their propositions to the needs of the market. This is especially true of the growing specialist market for self-employed customers, or those with adverse credit or complex sources of income.
Lenders are also beginning to hold regular forums and focus groups in their own specialisms, such as New Build and Self Build. Legal & General Mortgage Club is holding further events later this year, focusing on buy-to-let, specialist lending and the later life lending space.
FR: How is technology improving the way the mortgage industry works and how can brokers utilise this?
The mortgage industry was not traditionally a pioneer of technology, but we are starting to see this change. Fintech is making its mark and changing the way lenders, brokers and clients communicate.
Additional plug in tools available through technology companies are also brilliant in freeing up time for advisers to look at other opportunities. New customer relationship management systems (CRM) are helping brokers to automate laborious and repetitive admin tasks whilst allowing them to stay in close contact with their customers as well.
Technology should not be seen as a threat to brokers, but as a tool to access a wealth of information and guidance, quickly and effectively.
FR: If you could see one headline about financial services in 2017, what would it be?
‘Everyone has the chance to secure a mortgage or remortgage and lenders tailor their rates and terms for each individual’s needs’ - there are some lenders out there toying with the idea, and if this were to genuinely happen, it may make it easier for customers to move and free up housing stock for others.
FR: If you weren’t in the financial services industry, what would you be doing?
I would love to own a restaurant, so I would be eating good food and drinking even better wine!