Strengthening relationships with intermediaries and ensuring broker choice by offering access to diverse lenders are the key factors that have driven Nottingham Building Society’s mortgage growth over the past few years, senior manager for mortgages, Ben Osgood, told Mortgage Solutions.
Unusually for a mortgage lender, The Nottingham (as it is known) offers its own independent mortgage brokerage service, with access to over 50 lenders, called Nottingham Mortgage Services (NMS), launched in 2007. It also offers its own mortgage products through its intermediary channel, The Nottingham for Intermediaries.
Osgood explained that The Nottingham for Intermediaries lends its mortgage products throughout England and Wales via an network of expert mortgage brokers, with access to its business development managers, intermediary support and underwriting teams. It has partnerships with a wide range of networks, including Legal and General, Openwork and SimplyBiz.
From an NMS perspective, The Nottingham’s products are in the mix with thousands of other products, offering a whole of market search via both its branch network and over the phone.
Osgood explained that the business model, both from an NMS and The Nottingham for Intermediaries perspective, is set up to make sure that the customer gets the right deal for them and their circumstances.
He added: “Many banks and building societies only offer customers their own mortgages but we know a Nottingham mortgage is not right for everyone.
“Customers who visit one of the branches, phone or make an online query about a mortgage are put in touch with an NMS adviser who will listen to their requirements before searching thousands of mortgage products, not just The Nottingham products, across the market.
“NMS brokers are employed by The Nottingham, and the Intermediaries team work with other independent advisers, such as from London and County, who have access The Nottingham’s products should they be the right fit for their customers.”
Advice should be at the heart of things
Following the Financial Conduct Authority’s Mortgages Market Study finding that intermediary firms using a small number of lenders recommend more expensive products on average compared to intermediary firms who use a greater number, Osgood said: “We do not favour any lender and our priority is guaranteeing diversification in lender choice.
“However, our overall aim is sourcing the right mortgage for the customer, whoever the lender may be. Around 98 per cent of NMS recommended mortgages secured for members are with providers other than The Nottingham,” he added.
Commenting on the FCA’s MMS report’s re-examination of the centrality of mortgage advice to the application process, Osgood said that advice should be at the heart of things.
He said: “The overwhelming majority of the feedback we receive from members, including those who have significant experience of buying properties, is that they prefer expert advice before deciding on their next steps.
“There are of course some who favour execution-only, particularly in the digital space, but here at The Nottingham it is very much an advice-led model, whether that be following online leads, via our central team of phone advisers, in-branch mortgage advisers or our state-of-the-art Nottingham On Demand video conferencing mortgage advice service, available in all of our over 60 branches.”
In 2018, the society saw its mortgage book increase four per cent, with mortgage lending exceeding £800m, bolstered by maintaining a customer satisfaction score of 79 per cent.
Over the past ten years, the number of pieces of mortgage advice provided by the NMS team stands at 11,812.
Looking at the future, Osgood said that the Nottingham BS expects to find new ways to do business with intermediaries, despite short-term market, economic and political uncertainties.
“We have just entered the RIO market and we are expecting to grow this year.
“We will be also investing further in technology to better serve the intermediary market.
“At The Nottingham we are also aware of the changes within the market and always listen to broker feedback – RIO mortgages being an example of that. The team is always looking for opportunities to be able to support brokers and customers with the right products and services for them,” he concluded.