Comments from Bev Budsworth for Mortgage Strategy
“Everyone at The Debt Advisor knows that ‘managing expectations’ is my motto. This applies to my team so that they always know what is expected of them and, very importantly, applies to potential clients. We make sure that clients fully understand what we can do for them and how they need to contribute to make the agreed solution succeed. It’s also an easy way to win brownie points! If your client clearly understands the process, what you will do and what information they need to provide, it is easier to exceed their expectations and minimise potential complaints.
“How many organisations actually do this? I have come across serious lack of communication between the banks and their customers lately. The banks have unexpectedly turned ‘nasty’ stating that they wish to rewrite the terms of loan agreements from around two per cent above the base rate to a fixed rate of around 11.5%. The reason often given is that the customer has breached their terms. This really isn’t helpful and is worth fighting. Often, branch networks do have a limited ability to make concessions but if the account is referred to recoveries, it is possible to negotiate much lower payments.
“We have also recently seen directors of limited companies ask us about winding up their company. On investigation, management accounts often indicated that they had taken dividends which exceeded profits by around £50,000. They were all shocked when I explained that if we went ahead with the liquidation, I would have to ask them for their proposals to repay their loan accounts.
“These people then dutifully sought a second opinion from another practice that seemed to give them a pat on the head, two Valium and told them not to worry too much! I suspect that once the liquidator had been appointed, he will don a black cloak, grow sharp incisors and demand repayment of the illegal dividends – hardly effectively managing expectations.
“Another example we came across this week – it’s been a busy week! – was a mortgage network failing to communicate with its members and failing to pay out sums due for completed mortgages, insurances, etc. I suspect that they were keeping quiet about the financial standing of the network as any admission of financial difficulty will trigger notification to the FSA. However, In the meantime, their members’ frustration grows as they themselves are struggling and cannot afford to pay their bills.
“The claims industry is also littered with examples of companies failing to effectively manage clients’ expectations. Clients are asked to pay an upfront sum for a service but very little information is provided as to what percentage of its cases are successfully concluded. I came across the following example on Google:
“We Write Off & Refund Credit Cards – 100% No Win, No Fee – Claim Now!”
“This is completely unethical and is a classic example of a company that is building expectations too high. They do not write off debt and cannot refund credit cards.
“However, on a more positive note, I have met a number of IFA networks recently who are totally passionate about transparency, treating customers fairly, compliance and ethics which has gone some way to restore my faith. We just need much more communication and signposting for consumers and businesses, guiding them to more ethical solution providers.”