I’m not the first person to go to the ‘dark side’ as I often affectionately labelled our BDM colleagues when I was an Underwriter.

I know from speaking to fellow BDMs at other lenders that many have been an Underwriter in a past life, and in many respects, I feel this gives us an extra level of insight that we can share with brokers on what could help a case when it is submitted.

I think as a BDM, one of the most important parts of our role is stakeholder relationships. I don’t think I’m overstating the role when I say that we are often the oil that sits between all of the different cogs in the mortgage application process, this is something that I’ve realised even more during my first 15 months in the role.

At the heart of those relationships is the one between the BDMs and the Underwriters.

Back in my Underwriting days the best relationships I had with the BDMs was when there was a level of mutual respect, a bit of fun and also some challenge. There will always be a level of friction between the roles, but the important thing is that whilst you might not always agree, you listen to each other’s views and agree a way forward with a clear explanation to the broker on what is needed and why.

More so than ever, given the volatile economic environment that we are operating in, I think these communication lines are crucial and could add real value to the broker and customer journey when dealing with a lender.

In my understanding, Underwriters across all lenders, are operating within a tightened credit risk appetite and if a certain case requires them to look ‘outside the box’, they would need to have a detailed rationale as to why. The reasons why Underwriters are asking for those additional pieces of information is to look for reasons to approve the case rather than decline it, that is a last resort.

They’re putting their names to cases against a backdrop of a furlough scheme, payment holidays (deferrals) and an economic road map in this country, which currently seems quite uncertain. It is a role that I always enjoyed but one that I would not envy at the moment.

So, at this time when as BDMs, Brokers and Underwriters we are all quite literally in this together, what can brokers do to present their cases in the best way possible? It won’t guarantee a 100% success rate; however it could help with securing that mortgage offer.

Tell the story and be clear

An Underwriter is the proverbial bloodhound. They’re happy by nature but if their senses indicate that something is not matching with the scenario presented, they become more intrigued and will ask more questions.

If there is something unusual about the case talk to your BDM up front.

At Skipton every BDM has access to a dedicated Underwriting Team Leader who they can discuss the scenario with. That means we can give you a quick ‘no’ as to whether we’ll accept the case which allows you to move to the next lender, or if it’s a ‘yes’ we can tell you what we want to see with the case. That information will then provide comfort to the Underwriter when they assess the case.

Check the shopping list we give you.

In September, Skipton launched Auto Income Verification (AIV). It automatically assesses your client’s income when you submit a Decision in Principle (DIP). On suitable cases, our verification model can assess your client’s income and could eliminate the need for payslips to be uploaded to eMortgages and income to be assessed manually by an Underwriter. Check the shopping list we give you on eMortgages, if our verification model can validate your client’s income when you submit the DIP, your shopping list will not include payslips and the Underwriter doesn’t want to see those documents. But if you send them in, they will have to assess them.

Submit the supporting documents with the case.

If it's drip fed in with the application, it delays things. Trust me, an Underwriter doesn’t want cases sat around any longer than you do so please include all relevant documents on day 1 of submitting the case. On the flip side, one thing that our Underwriters aim to do when they’ve asked for additional documents at underwrite, is to review those documents within 24 hours of receiving them.

Talk to the Underwriter

If you want to discuss a case once it has been assessed by the Underwriter they are on hand to help, alternatively you can give your local BDM a call and they'll try their best to help or get you in touch with the Underwriter. The Underwriter will try to call you when there is something out of the ordinary on a case but due to busy schedules, there may be some phone tennis.

At Skipton we have an Underwriting team who are accessible, commercially minded and keen to help customers into their homes. Like all of us they are facing the logistical challenges of remote working, dogs barking in the background, spilling coco pops on their computers (that may be just me…) but I think they are doing an amazing job and it’s one that I appreciate even more since moving to a BDM role.