Mortgage brokers have reported a more than 20 per cent dip in service levels among lenders since pandemic restrictions were lifted.
During the pandemic, 96.4 per cent of brokers said service was ‘good to excellent’ during the pandemic, but this figure has dropped to 75 per cent after restrictions went away.
The majority (68 per cent) also said they have had to go as far as to complain to a lender for poor service in the last 12 months, citing the length of time it takes to receive a decision for their client as one of the most common reasons.
The survey, conducted by Mobas across 101 brokers on behalf of Saffron Building Society, has prompted the lender to commit to more accountability over service standards.
Saffron has launched ‘Intermediar-ease’ in an effort to bring more clarity to wait times and set out its different service level agreements (SLAs) for applications.
Currently, the “up-to-date” timeframe page says a decision in principle (DIP) will be looked at within one working day.
For new and existing applications, the lender’s processing team is adhering to a three-working-day SLA, while its underwriting team is operating under a slightly longer four-working-day SLA.
The building society said in the “rare event” a case falls outside the working day timeframe, brokers should call or email for an update.
Saffron’s mortgage sales head, Tony Hall, is spearheading the new SLA-led initiative. He said: “When I joined the society in 2020, I realised we had work to do to build our reputation, improve our service and engage more effectively with brokers.”
The recent research, said Hall, shows that there is some dissatisfaction across the board with brokers which needs to be addressed.
“While we know we can never be perfect, this initiative gives us a chance to reach for perfection and hold our hands up when we don’t get it right,” Hall added.
“In the coming weeks and months, we are holding ourselves to account like never before and ready to face the challenge.”
The revamped intermediary portal has been designed in order to make it easier for brokers to provide feedback, giving them more avenues of communication around products and criteria, as well as open access to underwriters.
“With so many changes it is hard for brokers to keep up, which can mean missed opportunities for them and their clients,” said Hall.
“Equally, we know brokers are busy and may not always take the time to provide feedback to us.”
With more and more lenders giving just a few hours' notice before they pull a mortgage rate or product, brokers have found that submitting cases as late as 11pm on behalf of their clients is becoming the new norm.
And on the eve of a potential base rate rise, many brokers have spent the last weeks working to secure their clients’ rates as lenders continue to hike them up.