David Robinson has seen a lot of change in his 25 years of working within the Yorkshire Building Society brands.
Now as the national intermediary sales manager for Accord, Mr Robinson is full of admiration for how much more professional the mortgage market has become.
He said: “We have seen massive changes brought on by regulation such as the mortgage market review, most of it really good and positive, most of it has been to the strength of the intermediary side. Regulation has driven up standards and the advice a customer gets.”
It all could have actually been so different had Mr Robinson followed his desired career path. A Belfast boy, he attended Queen’s University where he did a business management degree.
Rather than dreaming of financial services though, his ambition was to work in marketing, but these hopes were dashed when he was rejected for a job at a brewery, instead ending up at Standard Life.
But he is by no means drowning his sorrows now, and is proud of the Accord brand, which has seen its application processing times drop and its relationship with brokers improve.
He said: “In the past, some may have thought we were hard work, fussy and slow – that feedback is changing. We have had a number of brokers say we have moved from zero to hero.
“We have been through a journey over the past six or seven months by listening to broker feedback, and last year we embarked on a multi-million pound investment scheme to improve the underwriting and application process.
“There is now an underwriter on the case all the way who can speak to the broker and make a decision and sign it off. This helps us deliver a faster mortgage application and a common sense decision.
“In the mortgage intermediary market this has bought our speed of application time down from 17 days at start of the year to 12 days. That has been a good improvement.”
There are more plans to improve the Accord service, for example the lender is now making welcome packs with the broker’s branding. Mr Robinson said: “One thing we are working on is how we recognise that relationship with the broker.
“One of the things brokers constantly say drives them is making sure they have a happy customer. We are running a pilot scheme with a welcome pack that goes to new Accord mortgage borrowers branded as coming from the broker. That helps with cementing the relationship.”
As well as service, Accord is also getting a good reputation for decent rates. For example, it recently released a 10-year fixed rate at 2.88 per cent for 75 per cent LTV.
Mr Robinson said: “Borrowers are more aware of what is out in the marketplace and are understanding credit scoring and affordability, so competition is providing real options.”