Promising to avoid common bank practices, Metro Bank tries to succeed where others have failed
Two years ago, Britain’s first new high street bank in over 100 years opened its doors promising to “reinvent the rules” of retail banking.
Indeed, opening seven days a week, for 12 hours a day and actively encouraging its customers to bring in their dogs, Metro Bank has seemingly removed some of what it considers to be “stupid bank rules”.
And it seems to have worked. With over 85,000 current account customers to date, Metro Bank – who has always offered mortgages direct to account holders – said that now it is settled, it is ready to take its planned next step into intermediary mortgages.
Independent mortgage adviser, John Charcol, has stepped up to the plate and will be conducting a two-month pilot with Metro Bank before it looks to take on any further partners.
Paul Marriott-Clarke, commercial director at Metro Bank, explained that it has its next phase of brokers already lined up for when it is “more confident” in the process.
“We are talking to a number of brokers across London and the Southeast,” he said. “But at the same time, in terms of delivering service, we need to make sure that we can cope with the volume that we drive through.”
Mr Marriott-Clarke said that it will therefore initially be working to a quota system of a weekly amount of mortgages that it is willing to take, on a first come, first served basis.
Metro Bank currently has 12 branches across London and the Southeast, with targets of a further six branches by the end of 2012 and up to 200 by 2020.
“We aim to be where people work, live and play as well,” said Mr Marriott-Clarke. “We have made a commitment to deliver fair, long-term and transparent pricing. How that translates through to our broker proposition, is being available to the customer and the broker from a service point of view and forming a very personal relationship. So we have people who go down and sit with John Charcol in the broker offices to make sure that the communication channels are open.”
But with the woes in the mortgage market exacerbated by the current financial climate quoted on a daily basis, what makes this proposition different from the rest and why should intermediaries be excited?
Metro Bank claims that it is getting rid of the “computer says no” culture, and part of this comes in the form of manual underwriting.
Mr Marriott-Clarke said: “So it is not a situation where the company just says no. We take the case on its merit and make sure that it is reviewed properly. And then when it comes to issuing the offer documentation to the customer we will go directly to the customer or invite the customer into one of our stores and make sure that he gets to meet the lender of the money for his mortgage.