Broker satisfaction has decreased; highlighting the winners and losers

Today we have released the fifth edition of our Mortgage Lender Benchmark, the most in-depth study of UK mortgage lenders in the industry.

The key themes from the report are:

  • Reduced broker satisfaction with lenders;
  • Often inadequate online systems and resources; and
  • A surge in dissatisfaction with speed of response and customer service.

Overall satisfaction with lenders is now 77.8%, a drop of 4.9% since H1 2020, and is the lowest score reported since tracking began in H2 2018. This drop is seen across all sectors, except for specialist lenders, whose performance remained consistent with H1 2020. However, a third of lenders have improved their overall rating, indicating that some were able to build on their relationship with brokers during the pandemic.

Jacqueline Dewey, CEO of Smart Money People, commented: “The latest edition of our Mortgage Lender Benchmark shows that brokers are becoming dissatisfied with lender performance in reaction to Covid-19.

“Many are fed up with the pandemic being used as an excuse for poor service or slow processes.

“Despite the difficulties faced in the market this year, some lenders have continued to outshine their competition. A third of all lenders in our report have seen an increase in their overall rating. We found lenders who performed well in comparison with H1 2020 were particularly strong around customer service. Lenders whose overall rating fell often did well around product range and rates, but very poorly for speed.”

Top bank: Halifax
Top building society and Buy to Let lender: Godiva
Top specialist lender: Fleet Mortgages
Top lifetime lender: Pure Retirement

Net Promoter Scores (NPS), a key measure of loyalty, ranged from +68.8 to -76.9, with the average across all lenders falling to +12.8, from +30.8, a drop of 18 points.

Speed to process an application remains the most commented upon theme in the report and it has the biggest impact on a broker’s likelihood to recommend a lender. The rating for speed saw the biggest fall and is down from 75.8% to 67.2%, highlighting broker annoyance. One broker in the report commented:

“Service levels are huge. Currently 23 working days to complete initial assessment of an application. No response from the BDM to my emails. Hold wait for processing centre is over an hour.”

As well as speed, online systems remain a key influence on NPS and feedback is very mixed across the market. The report found that positive sentiment towards a lenders’ online systems led brokers to be more positive about other aspects of a lender’s process including ease and communication.

Customer service has risen tothird in the list of reasons not to recommend a lender, and the report saw skills and knowledge enter the list of detractors, which had the strongest negative impact on NPS when it was mentioned. The lack of knowledge of staff, which may be symptomatic of more frequent product and policy changes in H2 2020, was an issue for brokers, and saw one broker comment:

“Getting to speak to someone who can understand what your question is seems to be difficult.”

The report covers feedback from 494 brokers on 44 lenders across banks, building societies, specialist lenders and lifetime providers, as well as their thoughts on the mortgage market in general.

Along with asking brokers to rate lenders on different aspects of their proposition, we analyse the comments that brokers provide when asked what they like or what could be improved for each lender. These are mapped across 20 themes to give a rich insight into how each lender is performing. 

Other key findings include:

  • The rating for lender communication saw the second largest fall – down 5.3% against H1 2020
  • Building societies remain the highest overall rated sector, despite seeing the greatest decline in scores, although banks now outperform them across several areas
  • Overall satisfaction with first time buyer and home mover cases fell the most, by 7.1% and 6.8% respectively, with speed and communication again being pain points
  • Cases involving the self-employed also attracted lower satisfaction, with the rating for speed falling from 74.8% to 65.0%. Product transfer and commercial Buy to Let remained consistent with H1 2020
  • Broker sentiment around customer service noticeably decreased vs H1 2020, although this was concentrated across banks and building societies. Customer service, together with speed, also attracted a greater share of feedback and when talked about negatively, both themes had a strong downward pull on the NPS of many lenders. Conversely however, brokers were particularly likely to recommend a lender if they said cases progressed quickly
  • Broker sentiment towards product themes was slightly higher across all sectors

Visit our dedicated Mortgage Lender Benchmark page to download a summary copy of the report or find out how to purchase a copy.

About the Mortgage Lender Benchmark:

  • The Mortgage Lender Benchmark is a bi-annual report released by Smart Money People in June and December each year.
  • The report captured 494 brokers feedback. Mortgage brokers were asked to leave feedback on the last five lenders they’ve attempted to place a case with recently, as well as other providers they use within their mortgage business, and their comments on the mortgage market in general.
  • The data capture period was October 2020.
  • 77 lender’s data was captured as part of the study