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It’s surprising how quickly things change and how good we are at adapting and evolving. I think a glance back over the last 12 months is testament of that.

Jon Rawley

The iPhone launched in 2007 although it feels like it’s always been around. And there’s been 29 iterations of the phone so far. We’d be a bit disappointed if there wasn’t another new version, and another and so on. Even though I’m not really sure what additional features the latest version offers, or whether I actually need them, I still expect Apple to keep improving the product.

Businesses are pleased to be able to say ‘you asked, we listened’ an example of this is a couple of years ago McDonald’s ditched plastic straws in favour of paper ones. The move came as the result of a customer campaign that gained hundreds of thousands of signatures of support. Observing wider trends can also help inform. In 2017, Adidas sold over one millions shoes made from ocean waste –combining well made shoes with a desire to help the planet. In the more mundane world of mortgages, innovation and technology might feel a little more prosaic. However, I think there’s been investment to make the ‘product’ easier to access, understand and transact.

At Skipton Building Society for Intermediaries we have adapted too, our teams have been able to adapt to home working throughout the pandemic without any major impact on the service we offer. Our existing service offering of automated valuations, desktop reports, and physical valuations, plus the recent additions of automated income verification and automated ID checks serve as examples of how we’re continuing our service but also making improvements to benefit brokers and their clients.

The feedback we’ve received from intermediaries has helped us develop and shape our proposition. When we wanted to improve the way in which we assess mortgage applications for contractors we contacted several broker firms to ask what they felt our lending rules and process should look like. The input from them was then used to help us rewrite our lending policy for these clients. We used the same approach to develop our buy to let top-slicing criteria which has resulted in a simple process being used and created many more opportunities for brokers and their clients.

Our business development team – the ones brokers talk to every day – have regular ‘coal-face’ meetings with underwriters and credit risk stakeholders to pass on the feedback from intermediaries and explore how we might change or improve our criteria or processes. Many changes, in addition to those referred to above, have had their genesis from this forum. We were hearing regular feedback regarding our applicant declarations, required as part of a mortgage application and a product transfer. The upshot of this is that we recently removed the applicant declaration for a new application and amended our requirement for product transfers.

Technology is often a solution to create more efficiency but, as Alex Beavis, our Head of Mortgage Products explains, we recognise the need to continue to be ‘people-led’: “…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 winning combination will improve the service we offer and expand our reach and ability to serve for brokers and their clients.”

And Karen Appleton, our Head of Lending, endorses this approach: “…a quick chat with a broker through the intricacies of a mortgage application can save a lot of back and forth, making it easier for everyone. We want to lend where can, responsibly and where it’s the right thing for customers. Sometimes, the easiest way to do that is by talking.”

The words agile, adaptable and pivot have been used a lot over the last year. But basic talking and meaningful conversations and listening to what brokers need remains at the heart of providing a great service. Your feedback told us that staying up to date with fast changing rules, for example lending to your self-employed clients, was really important. We’ve been unable to visit you to talk through these changes or chat about lending rules over a cup of coffee (although, one day I hope we can return to doing so!). However, what we have provided, based on these requests, is regular bitesize webinars: delivering information you need to know.

If the past 12 months has taught us anything it’s that collaboration and supporting each other will achieve better outcomes for all. Skipton Building Society for Intermediaries remains true to it's purpose: making things easier for you and helping more people own their own homes. With your help we will continue on this journey.

These views are Jon’s own.

Jon Rawley
Business Development Manager

All information correct at time of publish.

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