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Q&A with Best Bank: NatWest

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NatWest was voted Best Bank in the Your Mortgage Awards 2015/16 for a remarkable 21st time in the 26 year history of these awards. We asked them what they have done over the past 12 months to deserve this year's gong and how they have managed to consistently earn the title of Best Bank.
Q&A with Best Bank: NatWest


Q: How do you feel about winning the Your Mortgage Award for Best Bank 2015/2016?

A:Winning this award is fantastic, it is testament to the hard work we have put in to developing our business in recent years. We have come a long way in a short space of time, grown our adviser arm, broadened our overall proposition and managed to help 300,000 borrowers, first-time buyers, homemovers and remortgagors in 2015.


Q: What have you done in the last 12 months that has put you head and shoulders above the competition in this sector?

A: The first rule of business is to listen to your customers and to listen to the market. Everything we do is customer driven. We have worked tremendously hard to ensure we are delivering the products they need to our mortgage customers. That means in the last 12 months we have offered not just our traditional residential mortgages but more buy to let loans for property investors, and we have also started providing interest-only mortgages again to higher net worth individuals earning over £100,000 a year.


Q: How do you ensure that your mortgage products and service are ahead of the game?

A:We constantly benchmark ourselves against the other high street lenders to make sure our pricing is competitive, and we use sophisticated analytics to try and learn what customers want and need. This has led to us broadening and diversifying our product range. We are really happy about our service. The number of mortgage applications we have worked through increased by 42% between Q2 2014 and Q2 2015, and by 63% between Q3 2014 and Q3 2015, and you don’t achieve those levels of growth unless you get your service right. We have been investing heavily in people and processes, and have reduced the average time it takes from mortgage application to us making an offer by 3.5 days in the past year. And it doesn’t stop there. We have more improvements up our sleeve which we are testing and piloting as we speak.


Q: How would you describe your unique selling point?

A: Most of our competitors are either former building societies or they own former building societies. NatWest is historically  know n for opening and looking after people’s current accounts. Those current account relationships have been really helpful in allowing us to understand customers. We also have a fair price promise – we make sure that new and existing customers will be offered the same deals at the same rates, rather than penalising existing customers in order to attract new business. And we offer the same interest rates regardless of channel. Whether you choose to come to us via an adviser, over the phone, on the internet or in a branch, there is no difference in the rates you will be offered.

Q: You increasingly need to offer customers choice when it comes to delivery channel – what have you done to develop your delivery channels?

A:We have increased our adviser population significantly – since 2012 we have doubled the number of advisers in our branches. Since the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review (MMR) in 2014 more customers have been choosing the advised route so this was an appropriate move. And for those happy to carry on and arrange their deal online we have simplified the digital journey.


Q: Increased regulation in the form of MMR has brought extra pressure to bear on the mortgage market in recent years – how have you as a lender responded to that challenge?

A:We have adapted as a business to meet regulatory requirements and worked hard to keep it simple for the customer. We have a very good relationship with the regulator and keep an open dialogue with them, and we keep all of our products and service under constant review and change them where necessary.


Q: NatWest is of course a household name – do you think your brand gives you an advantage in the mortgage market?

A: We are delighted to have such a strong and well-recognised brand – NatWest and our parent Royal Bank of Scotland have 16.5m banking customers, so we are pretty well known. But we are known as a current account bank, rather than a mortgage lender, so we have to work much harder to be recognised in the mortgage space. We have put a lot of effort into training branch teams to speak to our banking customers about their mortgages and explain how many of them could save money by moving to us. One in two of our customers currently on a competitor’s Standard Variable Rate could save money if they switched to us – the average saving is £165 a month*. And we are delighted that, according to an independent survey carried out by GFK we have gone from being number five when people consider taking out a mortgage to number one.

*Savings for 2 years, based on a mortgage of £150k, with a remaining term of 17 years. Comparison based on a typical competitor’s standard variable rate of 3.99%, against our 2 year Fixed Rate. Remortgage only up to 60% LTV.Fee of £995. Early repayment charge applies until 31.3.2018.Saving correct at time of print.

Q:You have won this award multiple times over the years – to what do you attribute such consistent success?

A: It’s all about our people. That might sound obvious, but it’s true. Our products are replicable, our pricing can be copied, and so can our processes. But our people are loyal and have enduring relationships with their customers. They genuinely know and care about our borrowers, take ownership of their cases and deliver great results. We have a great DNA at NatWest, and that is what keeps us ahead of the game.


Over 18’s only


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