How are lenders resourcing up for the current mortgage volumes?

The end of the first lockdown saw a surge in home buying and demand for mortgages. With most staff in lending firms working from home, apart from the branches, lenders have been working hard to keep up with the volume of business.

Lenders have been busy recruiting, training, offering overtime to staff and utilising technology to improve communication and processes. They have also been managing demand by changing criteria and product availability with mortgage deals being withdrawn as tranches of funding get taken very quickly by borrowers.

The Building Societies Association said building societies are coping reasonably well and have been retraining and redeploying staff to support those borrowers affected financially by the pandemic.

Santander has recruited additional people and offered existing colleagues overtime while Leeds Building Society has increased its usual capacity by more than 20%. In addition, Leeds has completed the phased roll-out of Mortgage Hub, the society’s new online technology platform.

Mortgage Hub streamlines and simplifies the application process from start to finish, providing Leeds with additional automation and freeing up colleagues and capacity to support more complex enquiries.

Accord Mortgages, the intermediary arm of Yorkshire Building Society, has boosted its underwriting team through both recruitment and the return of team members who were seconded to support customers on mortgage payment deferrals.

It has also created more time to process applications by making efficiencies to the way brokers can get in touch. There are now more opportunities to self-serve with case updates via its online portal and it has expanded its webchat facility.

Shelley Connelly, head of underwriting at Masthaven Bank, said:

“We’ve recruited new staff, upskilled case handlers so they can do ‘mini’ initial underwrites and put in some extra hours – all of this has had a positive impact on our offer time.”

Skipton Building Society hasn’t needed to increase its resource but has been cross training consultants to make them more multi-skilled enabling the society to cope with current volumes.

But it’s not just about resourcing up to handle increased volumes, said Chris Pearson, head of intermediary mortgages at HSBC UK. Technology, self-serve, creating efficiencies and clear communication are also key. He explained:

“The introduction of Live Chat is a typical example of introducing an additional communication channel for brokers to get case updates and criteria questions answered quickly and without the need to pick the phone up.

“Increased utilisation of automated and desk top valuation methods is another example of adopting available technology and processes where face to face isn’t feasible. Working smartly across our global operations and underwriting units has also allowed us to adapt to increasing work flows.

“From a resource perspective, we’ve absolutely geared up to handle increasing demand, adding more people to the broker contact centre team and training them up rapidly.”

At Lloyds, intermediaries can receive updates on simple cases via e-mail, check criteria detail online or through its webchat facility.  It has also recently introduced new functionality online for BM Solutions, which includes improved self-service options, built-in document upload and alternative lending proposals at decision stage where available.

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