First-class customer service is fundamental for both brokers and customers alike. Simply put, beyond a memorable logo and good advertising sits a human being with significant industry experience and conveying this is key.
This is something Cambridge & Counties Bank pride themselves on, and something that the financial services industry would benefit from – revisiting some of the crucial elements of traditional banking. Combining the efficiency and know-how that’s needed to navigate through the modern lending space together with personal service that’s straightforward, fast and flexible without an online portal in sight! It adds value to the transaction – and that value starts by having experienced individuals interacting with clients throughout the life of the loan.
Over the last 12 months, the market has been unpredictable with unprecedented issues around Brexit and the stability of the Government resulting in a difficult macro-economic environment for property investors.
Despite suspected pent-up demand from investors seeking more stable market conditions prior to investing, there is a growing likelihood of a continued downturn throughout 2020. With this backdrop it is becoming increasingly important for borrowers to have confidence in the ability of their funder to deliver on new deals and, maybe more importantly, how their funder will treat them should trading conditions turn for the worse.
In these scenarios’ the relationship between the customer and lender is of paramount importance. During the credit crunch there was heavy criticism of banks that took a short-term view and pulled down the shutters at the first sign of trouble. Cambridge & Counties Bank seemed to take the learnings from the financial crisis to develop a model that is not rate driven or an aggressive risk-based model and instead looks to build relationships with brokers and provide security with customers, which is vital during uncertain times.
Forcing borrowers to submit applications through an online portal or wait in long automated call queues doesn’t always create a technological advantage. However, giving customers direct access to experienced individuals with years of industry experience creates a relationship that can help brokers and customers feel valued and secure.
These are uncertain times, and many lenders have felt forced to compete on price – creating a race to the bottom and stretching credit criteria in a bid to obtain market share in the face of increasing competition. The result of this has been that many new funders are suffering from material margin compression or lack of business whilst some funders have suspended business completely.
Put simply, without customers banks don’t have a business. Surely the right approach is to treat customers how you would want to be treated yourself, not because the regulator tells you but because, treating customers fairly, being transparent and building relationships is the right thing to do.
That brings us back to the question of, is the age-old saying, ‘people buy from people’ true? We certainly think so! One thing that remains clear is that all speculative borrowers would be wise to consider the culture of the lender from where they borrow as much as the interest rate offered.