What do brokers want for Christmas? A good BDM…

At the end of November, we released our H2 2023 Mortgage Lender Benchmark covering broker opinions on UK mortgage lenders for the second half of 2023.

This was the eleventh edition of the Mortgage Lender Benchmark which analyses the state of the mortgage industry according to brokers’ views and incudes in-dept data and insight from over 790 mortgage brokers, providing 3,666 individual pieces of feedback on 105 lenders.

In a brief recap, the latest results remained fairly stable, despite a slight dip from the record broker satisfaction levels seen in H1 2023, suggesting that lenders appeared to have largely coped with the ongoing market turbulence caused by further rate rises in the latter part of the year.

However, alongside our usual benchmarking set of questions, we also asked brokers ‘Do brokers feel business development managers (BDMs) still play a valuable role in supporting the relationship between brokers and lenders?’

The results of this were overwhelmingly in favour of the role of the BDM.

Let me expand on this:

  • 83.7% either agreed or strongly agreed that BDMs play a vital role in the industry today. Only 5.5% disagreed or strongly disagreed, with the rest unsure.
  • 32.2% said they typically first hear about a lender and what they offer from BDMs, with only product sourcing scoring higher (35%).
  • 37.3% said BDMs, when we asked brokers what they’d consider as their most valuable form of support service to serve clients effectively, beating the likes of dedicated phone lines, training programs / webinars and live chat.

Comments from brokers included:

“Hybrid working with BDM still works, having someone on hand for support can be just as valuable over the phone and less time consuming.”

“Visits from BDMs are invaluable.”

“They do provide valuable service which saves us time and effort.”

Before lenders start making the celebratory eggnog though, it’s clear that some lenders don’t measure up.

Whilst the slight majority of brokers (43.3%) were happy, over a third (36.4%) said they didn’t feel their lender gave enough BDM support, with the rest unsure.

The comments paint a mixed picture with brokers saying that while some lenders were really good, some were really poor (with one major high street bank coming in for notable criticism in having no BDM presence at all).

In addition, although some comments called out BDMs for not answering the phone or calling back, many brokers sympathised with BDMs covering areas that are too large, meaning they’re overworked and slow to respond.

Comments included:

“There are good eggs and bad eggs, some are better than others. I’m more inclined to go to a lender where I know the BDM support is offered.”

“Some are very good and some I can never get hold of.”

“Some lenders don’t have any named BDMs for smaller players, it’s very obvious when you’re a second-tier firm.”

However, even lenders who support the BDM model can’t pop the Christmas champagne just yet, as many brokers said that BDMs were simply not doing the right things.

For example, some said that BDMs offer little value with cases and simply quote website criteria.

Others also longed to be able to speak to the same person to build a relationship, with some sharing examples where inconsistent information had been given by different people.

In addition, a number of brokers from smaller firms felt they were being overlooked due to writing less business.

The final area that came in for a lot of attention is the move from in-person BDMs to telephone-based BDMs, and less availability on the road.

Although some brokers seemed comfortable with this change, many blamed the apparent problems with availability and accessibility on the lack of in-person support.

Many suggested that the level of service they receive on the phone isn’t as good as what they’d get in person.

Comments included:

“Some lenders have gone to telephone BDM and most brokers get fed up just trying to get hold of them.”

“I don’t feel that a telephone BDM can fully understand a case that has many different quirks, not giving confidence that when submitted the case will actually go through.”

“Removing BDM support and replacing it with live chat and telephone support – this is not what brokers want.”

In summary, although it’s clear that brokers understand the need for lenders to evolve, moving too quickly to a hybrid approach may be damaging to that lender’s relationship with brokers.

Brokers clearly still value BDMs, but many feel that some lenders aren’t providing adequate BDM support and even for those that do, there is a need for improvement in how those BDMs actually support their brokers.

There seems to be a huge opportunity for lenders to stand out by excelling in this area.

What do brokers want for Christmas? BDMs with good case knowledge who are readily available and accessible.

Jess Rushton, head of business development at Smart Money People