It's with great pleasure I am now able to share the findings from my latest Intermediary Mortgage Survey. The survey findings represent 27 lenders, who between them represent an 86% share of gross mortgage lending as well as the views from 592 intermediaries.
So what are the big stories this year? Well, firstly for the third year in a row we have seen improvements in the functionality lenders offer to mortgage intermediaries. They are clearly listening to demands with 89% of participating lenders now providing the important scan and attach functionality, allowing documentary proofs to be added quickly to the mortgage application at the point of sale. Considering this was provided by just 43% two years ago we can see there has been decisive action by lenders in quite a short time frame.
Other services rated highly by intermediaries have shown improved provision too, with 59% of lenders now offering an online single status view of all cases, up from 44% in 2016. And real time case tracking is now offered by 85% of lenders.
So a positive start, but what about where improvements can still be made? The overarching message from intermediaries was for portals to offer clearer, easier and faster application processes. It's true that whilst some lenders were praised for their ease of use, 42% were criticised as being average to very poor. This highlights the inconsistency in the level of services provided across the industry. Many intermediaries complain that some of the data requested by lenders is unnecessary and even irrelevant.
Another area where lenders can look to improve is by providing details on telephone service levels. Only a third offer this information. It is an offering lenders need to consider as intermediaries are reporting they still rely on telephone rather than online systems, SMS or email for case updates. 83% claim they call lenders between three and six times per application.
Let us consider the next 12 months. Is it too bold to say the market has a positive outlook? I don't think so. It defied the commentators who said economic uncertainty would deflate the market in 2016. This in turn means I expect to see further investment from lenders in response to intermediary requirements over the coming months.
I expect to see new technologies and distribution developments across the whole mortgage market including the key intermediary segment. Digitalisation will enable a step change in the market with developments enhancing the customer experience, driving down costs and increasing efficiency.