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Time for review: mortgage sales practices

The FSA’s mortgage market review guidelines pose a number of issues for retail banks in the UK, and are set to have significant impact on the way mortgages are bought and sold here. Although new regulations can often add additional pressures within the industry, anything that can reduce liabilities without imposing onerous costs ought to be welcomed. As mortgages are a key part of people’s personal financial planning, with genuine significance to the wider economy, it is arguably more important to safeguard this process against improper sales techniques than to do so with any other financial product.


However, with most mortgage advice dispensed by advisors in-branch, this leaves a serious issue of how to ensure that the right questions are asked, and the right processes and background checks are adhered to, while making sure that the process remains as efficient as possible. Financial services advisors based in the contact centre have long had to remain conscious of the fact that their conversations will be recorded and analysed automatically, and that they may be questioned if such examination reveals that they did not follow the procedures correctly. Some managers might shy away from the thought of recording face-to-face conversations, but there is no reason why it shouldn’t quickly become commonplace in the branch environment. In an instant, this would vastly reduce the sort of ‘he said, she said’ arguments that arise when customers claim that they have been mis-sold products or it is found they are unable to afford the mortgages given to them. Proper recording and analytics can ensure that the rights of customers remain protected, while the bank is safeguarded from spurious claims.


Five years ago, this would have been something of a technological challenge, and would have taken significant human resources to administrate. Now, however, the capture, storage and automated analytics equipment necessary is widely available, and can be operated and used without frequent recourse to specialist staff. Desktop process analytics can keep track of the  visual elements of the mortgage advice process, and automated voice analytics can scan recorded conversations to check for statutorily required statements, meaning that human analysis is only required when impropriety is already suspected.


In the specific case of mortgages, which demand a complex and lengthy approval process, these technologies can  be integrated with a workforce management system to map out the process and give end-to-end visibility of the entire customer  journey, along with the capabilities and aptitudes of the staff involved at each stage. In fact, the advantages gained from implementing such technology and using it properly mean that the capital and ongoing costs are significantly offset by the potential savings, not just in reduced liabilities but also in the potential streamlining of business processes. With the FSA’s new guidelines changing the requirements for all retail banks, now could well be the time to think differently about using in-branch analytics for compliance purposes.



Comments: (2)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 13 December, 2012, 11:17Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Recording shouldn't be required for a face-to-face interaction where the simpler and time-worn alternative of wet-ink signature exists. So, why won't a simple signature of customer and banker on a printed mortgage proposal suffice? The proposal should summarize the key points discussed during the in-person meeting. 

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 17 December, 2012, 16:14Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Thanks for your comments. While gaining signatures on documents is a key part of the sales process, we actually believe that recording the actual conversations between bank representative and customer will benefit both sides. Firstly, it provides a clear record for both the bank and the consumer of exactly what was said during the meeting.  As a result, any subsequent disputes can be resolved very quickly and easily.  Secondly, through analysis, it allows banks to understand and continuously improve the customer experience, based on real-life customer interactions, rather than training exercises. The insights that can be gained from this analysis can highlight problems or areas for improvement, and flag areas where staff training can be used to improve overall service levels. This is already standard practice for telephone based service and we believe the same principle should be applied to the branch environment to provide a consistent customer experience.