Matthew Tooth

'Keeping it simple has never been more important'

These are really challenging times. I can't remember another period in my working life when so much has changed so quickly. Coping in times like this requires a business to adhere to the core values that define it. At LendInvest, we believe in keeping it simple.

It can be very easy to over complicate matters. As an industry, we love jargon and lengthy notices to stakeholders filled with meaningless buzzwords. That need to make things overly complex can become part of the way lenders design their products and processes — overhauling their systems and loans to improve efficiency, but which ends up making life that much harder for intermediaries.

It’s an approach we try to avoid at LendInvest, instead focusing on ways to make things far more simple and clear for our various partners.

Walking the walk

Importantly, when it comes to keeping things simple, you can’t get away with just talking the talk. 

You have to walk the walk too, and demonstrate clearly how you are embracing that ethos, and how it is a fundamental part of the way you operate and communicate.

It’s something that we have taken very seriously as a business, conducting training with all of our staff members on how they talk with clients — thus improving their ability to speak clearly and simply with anyone we deal with to try and resolve as many issues as possible on the first call.

By giving them the necessary tools and setting out precisely how we want to communicate with our various business partners, we can ensure that our message is always clear and easy to understand, something that is so vital right now.

Listening is also crucial. Too often products are designed from a lender’s perspective, focusing on what fits within our pre-determined parameters, rather than what brokers and their clients really need.

Keeping things simple means building products these borrowers actually value, which help them with their own property financing goals, and not allowing your business to get distracted coming up with additional features borrowers neither want nor need.

Simple — not simplistic

It’s important to recognise that while we are committed to making our communications, processes and products more simple, the advice process is often complex.

Many borrowers have complicated circumstances, from their employment status to variable incomes. Intermediaries perform a vital service in guiding these borrowers and helping to structure deals to enable them to continue with their property plans.

The drive for a more simple approach needs to be about making life a little less complex for brokers, to assist them in providing that advice as efficiently as possible, rather than viewing the advice process in an overly simplistic way.

Communication more crucial than ever

There have rarely been more important times to be clear in your communications than now. Most of us have been through a couple of big market corrections in our careers, and yet the ongoing Covid-19 situation is absolutely unique. With the government instructing buyers and sellers to hold off on deals where possible, much of the market has effectively been put on ice.

The inability of lenders to conduct physical valuations, in most circumstances, is problematic, and lenders’ expectations of an increase in property specific risk has resulted in falls in the maximum LTVs available and an increase in rates from their previous historic lows. 

We aren’t immune to these issues and have had to adopt a more conservative approach. It was an option to put the shutters down and attempt to wait things out, but we wanted to continue to provide finance for those looking for funding solutions or focused on the limited opportunities still available where we feel the risk reward is appropriate. 

That’s where clear, simple communication becomes so important. It’s vital for all lenders to be entirely transparent here, explaining concisely exactly what changes are being made to their processes and product ranges, and why.

Brokers have long memories, and they remember the lenders that are transparent about their dealings. Clear and honest communication builds trust, which will play a big part for brokers when deciding which lenders to work with once the world returns to something like normality.

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