Ignore mainstream players for complex needs and pay the price

Ignore mainstream players for complex needs and pay the price

A borrower with a complex set of requirements does not have to result in a complex process for brokers.

Increasingly, lenders are recognising the need to adapt their products and systems to work with those cases which, in the past, may have thrown a spanner in the underwriting works.

Communication is the key factor when it comes to a good relationship between brokers and lenders, and is imperative when it comes to handling those applications that could result in a few headaches along the way.


A vital stage for an adviser is making a call to their business development manager (BDM) in the first instance. That allows both sides of the deal to understand what can be done and get to the heart of what the problems could be.

Making the process simple for the client first time around stands brokers in good stead to retain business, once their product matures.

Existing customers are the lifeblood of any business.

Other measures, such as assigning a dedicated underwriter to each case, can help to form a trusting partnership that works for everyone. 

Each complex case has its own characteristics, but it is possible to draw some common themes which intermediaries and lenders should all have in mind when assessing cases: being willing to make time to ask and consider difficult questions, looking for sensible solutions to problems that might, at first look, insurmountable and trying to make the process as easy as possible.

Key points

  • Lenders are adapting their processes for complex cases
  • Wealthy clients can be challenging cases
  • Mainstream lenders have worked hard to shed the ‘computer says no’ image

Wealthy clients can present unique challenges. For example, say your client works in the City and, although they earn a good salary, their bonuses far outweigh their comparatively modest income.

This is where some lenders’ affordability criteria might struggle and the client’s adviser can take a proactive approach of liaising with BDMs and underwriters.

Of course, lenders should always take a prudent approach to borrowers whose bonus is higher than their salary; however if your client has a three-year track record of consistent income, for example, you have got the evidence you need to be confident the client will be able to meet the repayments.

Another example is a recent case involving a broker with a fund manager client in exactly the same higher bonus situation who wanted to borrow above a £3m lending cap. It proved to be a text-book example of when early communication and flexibility can really pay off.

The broker supplied all the documentation the underwriter needed to agree to a £3.9m mortgage with all the perks of any standard mortgage. 

Barristers are another group of borrowers who can find it tricky to get a mortgage with a traditional lender because of their unusual income patterns.

Most are self-employed; they have variable earnings and cash flows can be restricted by lengthy cases so proof-of-income can be difficult to provide.