Donna Wells, Director at F4B
It’s been a long and winding road to get back to a point where physical events are now a thing again. Throughout the industry, we’re now seeing awards ceremonies taking place in person, expo’s reopening their doors and a multitude of smaller, regional events happening on a more regular basis. Of course, boundaries need to be maintained to ensure individuals feel reassured that permitted health and safety measures remain in place but we, as an industry, are certainly getting there.
Within this time, the importance attached to face-to-face interactions has certainly not diminished, if anything it has intensified. This was evident in our recent series of specialist lending seminars. Held in conjunction with a number of specialist finance providers, these focused on bridging, complex buy-to-let, second charge and commercial finance and offered attendees real insight into how lenders and packagers are approaching the current lending environment.
Although we were limited by the number of brokers we could invite, it was highly encouraging to see such positive interactions and levels of engagement take place with our team and our lending partners, many of whom were there in full force. It was also interesting to seek feedback from brokers we hadn’t worked with before and offer them the platform to voice their frustrations from a lending and packaging perspective.
I’ll swerve the direct lending-related feedback and focus on some of the frustrations from previous packager interactions and how we can overcome these.
Having to submit everything through a portal so you can’t discuss a case with someone directly.
Not having a go-to person, meaning it can be a struggle to receive updates or get call-backs in a timely manner.
Taking too long to come back with terms when an enquiry was submitted
These represent the most common frustrations we heard from brokers at these events and also when discussing previous experiences of working with some packagers in the past.
Technology is an interesting one. This is something that can be a blessing and a curse when it comes to the more specialist cases. We all utilise technology. Whether this is to help source relevant information, to communicate with people or streamline some of the simpler processes we encounter on a daily basis. Having said that, I fully understand the frustrations when technology becomes a barrier to getting an answer, rather than providing one instantly.
As a packager we have to embrace the best elements of technology but this can’t and shouldn’t come at the cost of direct interaction with a person who can source an appropriate answer/solution, provide reassurance or deliver a simple update on a case. This interaction is certainly at its most effective when brokers have one point of contact which shoulders the responsibility for cases and this is certainly something that we are huge advocates of.
As a business we are constantly monitoring the speed and efficiency of our team when it comes to dealing with cases from application through to completion. The recruitment process is never easy but in recent weeks we have attracted two outstanding talents in the form of a key account manager – covering London and the surrounding areas – and an underwriter to provide an even stronger level of expertise and support for new and existing intermediary partners.
It remains vital to build relationships and better service the needs of our lending partners as well as our introducers. After all, if we can’t match cases with an appropriate lending partner in a timely, effective and responsible manner then we will soon become redundant, and this leads me nicely onto the final frustration.
Brokers feeling that they still did most of the work but the packager was getting paid a lot of money for it
For any good packager, the value stems from their expertise and experience. By this I mean how they identify the right solution, how they collate the relevant information and how they have a clear insight into how individual cases can fit within certain lending criteria to provide the right outcome, often within tight timeframes. Lenders also trust us to receive expertly-packaged cases which allow them to generate valuations, instruct solicitors, complete and release funds within these highly restrictive timelines.
This is the type of value good packagers have to offer on each and every case. All whilst providing reassurance that the borrower in question will always remain the introducers clients and by picking up as much of the admin slack as possible along the way. It’s vital that intermediaries continue asking probing questions of their packaging partners, and if they aren’t performing to the required standards then they should simply move on. After all, there are packagers out there who can support all their specialist needs.