Donna Wells is the director at F4B

Distribution channels are constantly evolving to support dynamic market conditions and an increased focus on specialist and alternative financial solutions across a range of property-related transactions.

Not that change is anything new within the intermediary marketplace. Back in the early 2000’s, packagers were formed, mortgage clubs emerged and networks rose to prominence. We all know about the boom and bust pre and post credit crunch, and this period really did increase the scrutiny on distribution as a whole.

There was a stage when some lenders tried to ramp up their direct to consumer offerings. There was a stage when the reputation of packagers hit rock bottom both from a lender and introducer perspective. There was even a stage when the value of the entire distribution chain was brought into question.

However, all of these stages were largely short-lived. Given the fact that intermediary distribution has accounted for 65%-70% plus of all UK lending over this period, it is little wonder. And it is safe to say that the distribution channel is now deemed more important than ever for a range of lenders and brokers.

This increased spotlight on the distribution channel resulted in a huge uplift in professionalism, service standards and value as it battled to overcome criticism from certain quarters – some of which was warranted and some not so much. Whether a direct result of this or not, many packagers – whilst not specifically embarking upon a widespread rebranding process – moved away from the packager term and began to refer to themselves as specialist distributors.

Here at F4B, we also succumbed to this trend, but a recent comment from an introducer made me rethink this stance. He simply commented that he viewed specialist distributors akin to being a post-box and that packagers of old were the ones who wrote the letter, did a full spell/grammar check and hand delivered this to the lender.

This made me question – what really is in a name?

Now being classed as a specialist distributor is hardly breaking any trading standards description but does it sufficiently explain what we do, how deep we have to delve into cases and/or the amount of work we have to complete to ensure that applications are supported through to completion?

When I think about it, I’m not so sure.

Such cases are massively time-consuming, and many do not even result in a case being accepted. Unless you know exactly which lender is the best fit. And they need to be packaged correctly, first time, to ensure that they can be completed in a timely manner.

Packaged is the key word here. We are proud to be a packager, so maybe it is time to bring more clarity to the distribution channels and bring back the term packager.