Working smarter can mean faster results for commercial clients

It’s an optimistic time within the commercial market — while the last year was undoubtedly tricky, there are businesses across the country who recognise the opportunities for them in 2024 and beyond and want to get on with making positive changes.

This was borne out of our SME Pulse surveys at the end of last year, in which commercial brokers identified a healthy appetite among UK SMEs for borrowing, putting in place the funding needed for them to grow.

However, all too often those borrowers are subject to a frustrating and protracted experience when the time comes for arranging that funding.

It doesn’t need to be like this, though; lenders that make use of a smarter way of working can support these clients much more efficiently.

Setting expectations

It’s crucial for lenders to be as transparent as possible around their processes, particularly when it comes to commercial mortgages.

This puts brokers in a much stronger position, as they will be able to explain what happens post-submission to the client and manage their expectations.

Understanding how the lender goes about arriving at a final decision — and how long that process is likely to take — will play a part in determining which lender is going to be the best option for the client.

However, it’s also important for lenders to set expectations with brokers themselves.

Being predictable is a good thing for a lender in the commercial market — if brokers are confident in how you will assess a particular case and the sort of deals that you are comfortable taking on, then that means brokers and lenders alike spend less time on the speculative applications that are unlikely to ever lead anywhere.

Making use of technology

Some might think that the fact commercial cases tend to be a little more complex, a little less ‘cookie cutter’, means that technology cannot be utilised in the same way when it comes to processing applications.

This is a misconception; however, there are ways to make smart use of tech which will deliver real improvements to the speed and standard of service levels.

Technology cannot do it alone though; it’s the infrastructure that you build around those processes that ultimately make the difference.

At Atom bank we have spent a lot of time getting the right structure in place, blending technology with genuine experts, to ensure that commercial cases are dealt with swiftly.

We have made transformative changes to our broker portal and our commercial underwriting process, including changes to lending policy, internal and external systems and ways of working, which has reduced application-to-offer time by, on average, 42%.

As a result, fully packaged applications are currently able to be issued with an agreement in principle (AIP) within an average of one working day, while getting an offer out is currently around 15 working days from receipt of a full application.

Delivering a faster service

This isn’t about speed for speed’s own sake, however.

Atom bank’s drive for providing faster turnarounds to our clients comes from recognising the tangible benefits that can come from that swiftness.

It’s not just residential clients who find lengthy borrowing processes stressful, commercial clients similarly want to know where they stand as soon as possible so they can get on with formulating plans for their business.

A faster lending decision means providing them with an answer more swiftly and avoiding those sleepless nights worrying over what the response might be. 

Brokers benefit too, as the adviser isn’t having to put as much time aside in their day to chase updates, enabling them to put their time to better use elsewhere.

The fact that commercial lending is often more complex than traditional residential deals does not have to mean that timescales for getting an offer out must be substantially increased. 

If lenders combine smart technology with efficient processes and experienced people, we can ensure that clients are able to move forward with their plans in a significantly shorter timeframe.

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