Respect for brokers who put ‘best advice’ first

Buster Tolfree, Commercial Director – Mortgages, United Trust Bank

“The customer is always right” – That’s fine if you’re working on the returns desk in M&S, but when they are trying to raise tens of thousands of pounds to renovate their kitchen, buy a car, extend their property or even just to consolidate their outgoings, the customer often doesn’t have the knowledge to know right from wrong in the first place. But that’s ok. That’s what the Advice process is for. With the limited availability of ‘execution only’ more people are being helped to make good choices and with mortgage advisers better qualified and more knowledgeable than ever before, it’s not difficult for consumers with even the most challenging of circumstances to find a suitable solution.

At UTB we work hard to provide great products to some of those consumers. Yes, you read that correctly; we will be an excellent lender for some, but NOT for all.

When we launched into mortgages our aim was to design products with a set of definable customer needs in mind, and we continue to review our customer outcomes and business performance. We’re not an everyman lender. We haven’t got the biggest product range and there are customers we just won’t be able to help. We cater for those who need certainty of payments associated with fixed rates, or the flexibility of a BoE tracker. Both come without early repayment charges allowing flexibility for overpayments and penalty free redemptions should they choose to sell or re-mortgage in future years. We have sensible credit criteria. We don’t use credit score shortcut’s, we review the full credit search and payment profile and place a high level of importance upon evidenced affordability through the loan term. For ‘traditional’ prime customers, UTB offers an excellent choice of products, but we don’t have every option covered.

I’d like introducers to send us the cases where UTB is the best option, given that introducer’s individual lender panel, best advice requirements and ‘reasons why’ advice process. I want brokers to actively recommend UTB because it’s the right choice for their client. Plus, and here’s something you won’t hear every day, we actually want our introducers to send their applications to other lenders where they believe they will give the customer a better outcome.

Really? Yes, really. An introducer who always gives best advice, who strives to do the right job for their client whilst keeping their own and lenders’ interests further down the pecking order is the sort of introducer we want as a long-term partner. And, in cases where the broker identifies that none of the products they offer are suitable for that customer, we have unbridled respect for those who’d rather them away than sign them up to something that isn’t right for their needs. At UTB we understand that the customer may not always be right, but we absolutely insist that the customer will always be King.