£3 billion in residential lending: Q&A with our Head of Intermediary Lending
Earlier in July, we reached a landmark number for mortgages here at Atom: £3 billion in residential lending. This milestone is a real measure of our product range’s success, as well as further evidence that our aim to get more people moving is being achieved.
Of course, hitting this number would simply not be possible without the efforts of our team, who develop and deliver our mortgages, and our network of brokers, who we work alongside to secure customers the best deal possible.
To mark the occasion, we sat down with Paula Mercer, our Head of Intermediary Lending, for a Q&A on what the milestone means for us now and in the future.
Q: What does reaching £3 billion in residential lending mean for Atom? A: It means a whole lot! It feels great to know that we’ve helped over 27,000 customers in 16,000 households to either buy their first home, relocate, or get a better deal. That’s the equivalent of a small town — Bishop Auckland, for example, if you’re familiar with County Durham where we’re based.
Even looking beyond the numbers, I’m really proud of the fact we’ve delivered a great service as well. Our products are good value and transparent, and our app allows us to make managing and tracking an application a breeze. You just need to see the reviews on the likes of Trustpilot and Reevoo to see our service goes down well with customers.
Q: How did Atom reach this milestone? A: It’s been a whirlwind four and a half years! We launched our range in December 2016, aiming to offer mortgages that would give a quick decision and would be simple to manage through our app. We were the very first digital app-based bank to disrupt the established market in this way, and we continue to innovate to this day.
Our first milestone was in January 2018, when we hit £1 billion in residential mortgage lending. Next up was £2 billion, and then we hit the big three this month. Another big milestone that we’ve achieved is being named What Mortgage’s Online Lender for the past four years running in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 — we’re doing something right!
We have expanded our product range since launch to offer the likes of 95% LTV, first-time buyer, and cashback products. We’ve also recently launched Near Prime mortgages for those with a less-than-perfect credit history.
We have also worked extensively with our broker partners and firms to ensure that they understand the workings of our policies, and, as a result, we have really engaged our audience. We expanded our distribution by bringing on two new mortgage networks to help us grow our customer coverage.
Q: Can you summarise Atom’s approach to the mortgage market? A: We put the customer at the heart of everything we do. Our app makes everything much easier: they get a quick decision (as fast as 13 seconds!) and can track every stage of their application. And, because we require customers to speak to a mortgage broker so they can access our products, this ensures that they will receive valuable advice before making a big commitment. We’ve had consistently high customer satisfaction scores, which makes me believe that our customers value our approach.
Q: What recent developments are you most excited about? A: Recently, we launched our Near Prime mortgage products. This new range can help those who may struggle to secure a loan from traditional lenders — this might be because they’ve experienced financial difficulties, like a CCJ, missed payment or default, in the past, which many providers will take into account.
What excites me most about this development is the greater scope it gives us to offer mortgages. We have a dedication to getting more people moving, and opening up options to those with less-than-perfect credit will certainly help us to deliver. We’ve expanded our range of products quite a lot since launch, and this certainly will likely be the most recent in a long line of innovative products we offer.
Q: What does the future hold for Atom mortgages? A: In a recent lender benchmark survey, we received positive feedback on our speed of service and ease of our system. While this is certainly music to our ears, we’re not going to stop there, and you can expect further automation and integration to streamline the mortgage process, making the broker and customer journey even more seamless.
For example, one of the ways we’re looking to provide a smoother experience for both our brokers and customers is by adopting Open Banking technology. This will enable our customers to digitally share their account information automatically, speeding up the process and removing inessential stages of the application.
We’ve also made life easier for our brokers by upgrading our MSO, the platform used to manage our residential mortgage applications. Alongside an update to the look and feel of the portal, we expanded the use of Automated Value Model (AVM) and allowed the option for self-serve pre-contract variations (PCVs), both of which improve the ease of use for our network of brokers.