The Nottingham becomes first building society to offer whole of market mortgage advice
In a move designed to give customers access to greater choice and expert advice, The Nottingham is set to become the first building society to offer whole of market mortgage advice across all areas of its business from 1 April.
Customers have been offered the service for the past five years through Nottingham Mortgage Services (NMS), leading to thousands of people finding the right product. By extending the service across the business it means the Society is not limited to only selling its own range of branded mortgages so can help more people across its trading area.
One customer who knows the value of the service is Richard Mayo, who found dealing with his previous mortgage supplier was a "nightmare" when it came to getting advice. "I ended up paying more fees for my mortgage than I expected because it was not clearly explained what was included. So, when I needed advice on buy-to-let mortgages, I went to my local branch of The Nottingham estate agency and found everything was explained in layman's terms and I was able to make an informed choice. The service I received has been so good that I now have a second buy-to-let mortgage which was arranged through NMS."
Surveys have shown that customers who have already experienced the whole of market mortgage service from NMS since 2008 are consistently the most satisfied of all The Nottingham's customers, with independent monitoring identifying that over 80% contacted rate the service as 'excellent' and 85% saying they would be happy to recommend**.
With more than 60% of consumers purchasing their mortgage through an independent financial adviser or mortgage broker* the Society is confident they have a proposition that is more relevant to a far higher number of potential customers.
Customers, Paul and Nicky contacted The Nottingham after their long term building society offered a mortgage with unacceptable terms on their recent buy-to-let mortgage.
"NMS was recommended to us and we found the service was excellent; superb support and local communication and updates. We were able to find a suitable fixed-rate mortgage. We had started searching for mortgages ourselves, but when we approached NMS all of that was done for us and we were offered a product with Platform Home Loans that was right for us."
David Marlow, Chief Executive of The Nottingham said, "In the past five years we have found the right mortgage for over two thousand customers by searching the whole of market. As a mutual building society we have a duty to act in our customers' best interest, but we also recognise that as a relatively small and prudent lender we can't always meet our customers' requirements with one of our own mortgages.
"Last year we significantly increased our number of estate agency locations, through the acquisition of Harrison Murray, and therefore felt the time was right to offer whole of market advice to all our customers in all our locations."
Making the switch to becoming a mortgage broker might seem an odd decision for a traditional Building Society, but the change is entirely consistent with the Society's business model and long term strategy.
He added: "We have a clear vision of the role of a modern mutual. We have a duty to act in our members' best long term interests, and in this instance we believe that it is right for us to look across the market and find the right mortgage for our customers. Our high street proposition is distinct. In many of our branches we operate as both a building society and an estate agency, and it is important to us that wherever you contact us you experience the same great proposition based on excellent service, choice, great value and expert advice."
The switch to providing expert advice does not signal a move away from mortgage lending. In 2013 the Society reported record levels of lending and it remains committed to growing its mortgage customer base in the coming years.
David Marlow concluded: "In recent years we have seen massive growth in use of the internet as both a research and a purchase tool, but we know that for many people their mortgage is still their most significant financial decision and they want reassurance and help. There are 7,300 mortgages currently on offer in the market, and finding the right one can prove challenging. We believe we can provide a valuable service to new and existing customers by helping them find the best mortgage for them, wherever that may come from. It will make us far more relevant to a large number of potential new customers. Basically we believe offering whole of market mortgage advice across our business is the right thing to do."