Consultant Zone

Underwriting service levels

We have seen, over the last few weeks, a deterioration in residential and commercial underwriting service levels. Brokers complain that the time from submitting an application to receiving a ‘useable’ mortgage offer is getting longer. Several lenders have temporarily withdrawn from the lending market, suggesting they need to protect service levels. Such tactics are damaging to a lender’s reputation and should be an unnecessary step.

That is because there are solutions to the service level issue which are readily available – more of that later. Historically, funding issues or portfolio risk re-balancing were the main reasons behind temporary market withdrawals. Those factors do play a small part in the current situation. However, recent industry commentary from various lenders and intermediaries includes phrases such as “Lenders are having to take practical decisions so they can get their service back on track”, “we continue to effectively manage capacity” and “absences due to holidays mean there are challenges to manage increased case volumes”. There is no doubt that service levels are the main driver of current market withdrawals.

We know lenders cannot adjust permanent staffing levels to match their highest predicted volume. Equally they don’t want to lose hard fought intermediary partners by not delivering service level expectations. So, what is the solution to this challenge? One way is to engage with industry experts to help them through these volume or calendar peaks by supplying skilled support. We engage with many lenders who are open to the primary benefits of outsourcing which include increased efficiency, capacity management, re-deployment of staff resources and the resultant maintenance of service levels. All of that can be achieved on a variable cost basis too. Operational resilience requirements and oversight by regulators have been behind a more pragmatic change in attitude – that is why we have built our ‘staffing services’ team.

That team is busy right now – lenders using our trained and skilled workforce to help manage peak flows and/or staffing shortages. Our team can assist with all aspects of mortgage processing including underwriting, collections, customer engagement and QC across all product types. As a third-party supplier, our processes and procedures have been independently assessed as evidenced by our registration with FSQS, the financial services supplier qualification system managed by Hellios.

If you would like to find out more, or if you would like to chat about how we can help you manage service levels give us a call.