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Meet the decision maker


In the age of ‘computer says no’ manual underwriting has become something of a dying art at many high street lenders. But the specialists see things differently. Anthony Hayward is one of Kensington’s underwriting team and we caught up with him and the team’s base in Reading.

How long have you been with Kensington and how many other underwriters do you work with?

I’ve been here nearly three years and we’ve currently got 10 underwriters in the team. We’ve all got mandates of up to £1m and there’s a wide range of talent there. Last year we broke all sorts of records for the number of cases, offers and completions.

Favourite part of the job?

No two days are the same. Every case we look at is different and you don’t know what to expect or where the day is going to go.

How has underwriting changed since you entered the industry?

I’ve been an underwriter since 2006 and in the banking industry since 1997. Since the crash lenders have started to take more factors into consideration. When I first started with a high street lender you needed every detail but as the market progressed criteria started to change and lenders were asking for less. Now we’re getting back to a better footing and it’s important for customers to know a lender is reputable and they won’t be here today and gone tomorrow.

What would you like to see change this year?

I’d like to see people have more trust in underwriters. I’ve done CeMAP qualifications and I have to sit a four-and-a-half hour mandate paper. When I make a decision it’s not a case of ‘that’ll do’ - I am thinking through the risks.

Do you talk to advisers often and how does that help you?

It’s an asset which helps me do my job. I don’t see the customer so talking to a broker can give a clearer picture of the deal and sometimes resolve issues. Computers are black and white and if it’s not fitting exactly into the box then it’s no good. As an adviser you have nowhere to go after that but we have someone here you can talk to and discuss the case.

What are the benefits of manual underwriting?

You can get a deal that doesn’t quite fit our criteria but when you look at it you see it’s a really good deal and can override what the system says. That’s better than just using a computer. Computers can help but the human judgement is the best way to go. 

What’s your most commonly asked question?

It’s always about why we’ve made a decision or why we’ve requested something from the broker. We publish our criteria but we always try and make sure when we talk to brokers they know exactly why we’re asking for something as they have to relay that information to the customer. Plus that will help them on their next case they do with us. When we get applications with the payslips and declarations included straight away in it really does help.

Why are underwriters so misunderstood?

People sometimes see us as living in an ivory tower, thinking we don’t want to speak to advisers and just want to say no to all their cases. We don’t make money by saying no, we want to say yes, but there are times when we can’t.

What are you looking forward to most in the next 12 months?

We’re looking to build on the successes of 2013 and keep showing people we’re a specialist lender that will look at what the high street ignores. 

Interview with Anthony Hayward, Kensington Mortgages underwriter. Mortgage Solutions.

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