Family BS to outsource admin for underwriting

Intermediaries have told National Counties and Family Building Society not to buy a computer and instead stick with its individual approach to underwriting, according to associate director business development Keith Barber.

The feedback was given to chief executive Mark Bogard in conversations during his first 12 months in the job, with the clear message being that the society should steer clear of systematising their approach to underwriting.

Mr Barber told FTAdviser: “We’d long known that individual underwriting is a strength of several smaller building societies, but it reinforced what we suspected”, adding that in response the lender has continued to let underwriters concentrate on doing what they do.

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“We’re in the process of implementing a service with a firm called Brilliant, where we’re looking to let them do a lot of the administrative chasing around, using their CX system, rather than the Activate system we’ve got.

“That should improve the speed of service for intermediaries, and it also tied up with being able to offer an online portal.”

Mr Barber accepted the inherent contradiction in this two-pronged approach, both avoiding ‘buying a computer’ whilst enabling intermediaries to submit cases online.

“But in between there we’re still trying to keep that distilled benefit of individual attention to each particular case.”

As part of a new push to get products and services out to advisers, Cameron Amaira, recently-appointed head of intermediary sales, will be going around the country at the start of next year.

Mr Barber said: “We need to be a lot more proactive about going out and talking about the things we have to offer, so the whole point of his appointment was to get someone doing that very task, because intermediaries can’t use services they don’t know about.”

Across National Counties, product sales through intermediaries have risen to around 80 to 90 per cent compared with in branch sales, from 50 per cent to 60 per cent in 2011, according to Mr Barber.

He said: “We’re looking for growth on both fronts, so the traditional National Counties products and individual underwriting process primarily through intermediaries, and the Family mortgage and building society proposition is available both through intermediaries and direct.

“I see most of the growth next year coming from intermediaries,” he added.

Earlier this year the rebranded Family Building Society teamed up with four financial advisory partners - Chase de Vere, Key Retirement Solutions, Kings Court Trust and Bridgefast Property Services - to cover issues including funding care, inheritance tax and managed property sales.