Computer Says ‘Yes’: Top Class Service with the Human Touch


Alex Beavis

It’s no secret that we have bold ambitions at Skipton Building Society. We’re already one of the leading national building societies, but firmly believe we can continue to do more to help people realise their dreams of homeownership – after all, that’s exactly why we’re here.

Depending on how you measure it, we’re currently the 11-12th biggest lender in the UK. However, we believe we can do better, and our ambition in the coming years is to establish Skipton as a top 10 UK mortgage lender. Though size matters, this isn’t just about gross lending or book size, but rather a lofty ambition that seeks to establish Skipton amongst the very best lenders for service, broker satisfaction and customer experience.

Building on Strengths, Investing in Tech

Whenever I speak to brokers about Skipton, one of the main themes in the positive feedback I invariably receive is comments around the ‘human touch’ nature of our service. ‘You can speak to an underwriter’, ‘BDMs are helpful and knowledgeable’, ‘you treat customers as individuals’. To our regular supporters, hopefully these ring true. After all, we believe it’s what we do best and it’s often why you recommend us.

Our challenge now is to bring that experience to more intermediaries, allowing us to help more customers, but without losing sight of those existing strengths. To help us do this, we’re seeking to combine the very best of what we already have – our people and our human touch approach – with the latest in innovative technology. This is a winning combination we believe will not only improve the service we offer but allow us to expand our reach and ability to serve a growing number of customers and brokers.

Human Touch Lending, Powered by Technology and Data

Hopefully, those of you who’ve supported us recently can attest that service at Skipton is generally a step ahead of our peers. As I write this, we’re reaching the end of one of the busiest periods on record for UK mortgage lending and yet, on average, Skipton offered cases in just 9.5 days throughout the entire month of November, with 1 in 6 cases offered in under 5 days (and yes, these figures include purchase business).

So how are we doing this? Well, there’s no secret wizardry here, just a lot of hard work and investment in technology we believe matters most to you and your clients. Over the last two years we’ve invested in API connectivity and new collaborations to enable us to roll out instant checks for ID&V, financial crime and fraud, electronic income verification and automated valuations – vastly reducing the need for physical documentation, speeding up our time to offer and, importantly, freeing up our underwriters to focus their time and expert judgment on those tricky cases where more time is needed to get to the ‘story’ behind the customer. This need has never been greater in the face of the recent challenges posed by COVID-19 – take self-employed lending for example. So whilst the computer may say ‘yes’, we’ll remain here for you when it’s more complicated too.

Going Further, Delivering on Promises

But we’re far from finished. 2021 will see us going further with new digital connectivity to conveyancing and Land Registry to enable a fully digital mortgage experience for remortgage cases, whilst our upcoming full end-to-end integration with Twenty7Tec’s Mortgage Apply service will allow users to conduct a DIP, submit a full mortgage application, upload documentation (if it’s even required) and track cases without the need for any rekeying.

There tend to be a lot of big words, bold claims, and brave timelines when it comes mortgage tech. This isn’t the case here. Everything I’ve outlined above is either already delivered or publicly announced, with new collaborations and our agile approach to change allowing us to bring these innovations to market well ahead of many of our larger competitors – including many ‘top 10 lenders’.

Staying true to our purpose

We’re aware that technology isn’t the answer alone. Get it wrong and it can quickly become the problem. We know that intermediaries and customers don’t really want APIs and integrations, they want quick decisions, great service and ultimately, to secure the most basic of human needs – a roof over your head. So whilst we’re striving to establish Skipton as an innovator and leader in mortgage tech, we won’t lose sight of our key aims – to help more people own homes and to make things easier for you.

These views are Alex’s own.

Alex Beavis
Head of Mortgage Products, Skipton Building Society
January 2021

All information correct at time of publish.