Brokers want greater clarity from lenders on acceptable forms of income verification on mortgage applications, after being told printed online bank statements alone are insufficient.
Cherry Finance mortgage broker Matthew Fleming-Duffy says he has been told by several lenders that printouts of an online bank statement are inadequate.
He says the issue for brokers and consumers is around the different policies adopted by lenders when it comes to online bank statements, which can cause delays with applications and creates extra work for brokers.
HSBC says it will accept an online statement as part of a mortgage application but will also require an official document such as an annual paper statement that clearly states the client’s name, address and bank.
Yorkshire Building Society says it will accept online bank statements provided the URL is printed on the document.
Barclays says it will accept online statements, provided they have been stamped by the bank. If the statement has not been stamped, Barclays says a one-month statement must be accompanied by corresponding payslips certified as true copies by Barclays. Each statement must display the client name, address, account number and sort code.
Santander for Intermediaries also says it will accept printed online bank statements as part of mortgage applications, but will also require proof of authenticity such as bank branding and clearly displayed client details.
Perception Finance managing director David Sheppard says: “I have seen lenders take issues with screenshots of online bank statements, which of course we can understand. But this is less of a problem today than it was perhaps 18 months ago.”
Sheppard argues it is down to lenders to set their own criteria for acceptable income verification.
He says: “I can see the logic in calling for a standard policy for income verification, but I fail to see how we, as an industry, can dictate these kinds of things to the lenders. After all, it is their money that is being loaned out.
“You do hear of stories about falsified statements so we have accept that lenders will try to prevent such fraudulent activity and I don’t think that is wrong. I am not convinced we will ever get an industry standard because each lender operates in a different way to prevent itself being subject to fraudulent applications.”
John Charcol senior technical manager Ray Boulger says there is room for lenders to work more closely with brokers but feels it must be on an individual basis.
Boulger says: “The problem has been around for quite some time and it does seem odd when you think that banks are forever encouraging customers to switch to online banking.”
“It might be a bit ambitious to call for an industry-wide standard policy but what I would certainly support is a scenario whereby lenders establish which brokers they are comfortable with and work well with, and give authority to those brokers to fast-track cases through, ensuring they keep all records on file for future reference as necessary. That kind of system would be more efficient both for the lenders and the brokers themselves and would help clients to get their mortgages more quickly.
Fleming-Duffy argues: “In terms of what lenders accept, it is changing between the lenders and that is where the confusion lies.
“What we need is something similar to the key facts illustrations that are presented to clients before any financial product is bought. These are uniform across the board. If we can implement something like that, it leaves far less room for error.”
London & Country associate director of communications David Hollingworth feels lenders could be clearer in what their requirements are to help keep the application process efficient.
He says: “At one point we had a lot of our brokers complaining about this. As you can imagine, putting together a mortgage application is not a short process and to be told later down the line that a printed internet bank statement is insufficient can cause unnecessary delays.”
Trinity Financial product and communications manager Aaron Strutt says: “As far as I am aware, the requirement now is any printout of an online bank statement must have the URL printed across the top of the page to verify it is not a falsified statement. Whatever the case may be, it needs to be made clear to brokers.”
Your Mortgage Decisions director Dominik Lipnicki says: “A uniform policy among lenders would be fantastic but that is an ideal world scenario, which of course we do not live in. It is hard enough for lenders to ask the same questions on an application form, never mind accepting the same sort of documentation.
“I cannot see the lenders investing money into implementing something like that. I would love to see it happen but I simply cannot see it.”
But Lipnicki suggests the application process can be made more efficient if lenders agree to allow brokers to verify income statements themselves before sending through applications.
He says: “The easiest way to present this would be to allow brokers to stamp and verify that income statements or bank statements are real.
“That would be the easiest way to go about this and moreover it would cost nothing to implement. We simply need lenders to come together and say ‘we will all agree to this’ and that way we can all be on the same page and clients will have their applications processed without unnecessary delays.”