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Global brand outlines local mortgage strategy

The new head of sales and distribution of a foreign-owned bank reveals how the group has reviewed its pricing and how it will deliver a more customer-focused mortgage offering in 2016.

Janine Copelin, Citi’s managing director – head of sales and distribution, manages a team responsible for delivering sales and service to clients across investments, insurance, deposits, mortgages and unsecured lending products.

Third-party banking is a critical component of the group’s mortgage strategy.

Ahead of the 11th Annual Loan Origination Excellence conference in February 2016, Ms Copelin shared her insights as to how Citi is aligning loan origination with customer needs.

“From a technical perspective, we’re trying to map through and identify where service friction points are,” she said.

“For example, delays in decisions, or the excessive amount of documents that could all be merged into one item. We’re also looking at leveraging the EDMs and letters more effectively to make them more customer-friendly.”

Ms Copelin joined Citi in May after holding senior leadership roles at CBA for a number of years. She said Citi’s focus is not just improving the way its deliver information, but the content that’s in that information.

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“You know what bankers are like, we tend to overcomplicate things when we really don’t need to. Simplifying the language is an important component in this context.”

Citi has conducted a full pricing review and reduced rates for basic products to make them more accessible.

“At the same time, more recently, we’ve conducted a full review around policies and procedures,” Ms Copelin said.

“We looked at what the end state beneficiary of our customers was, because it’s then far easier for our frontline staff, BDMs, brokers, mortgage and mobile specialists to deliver clear information.

“This way, it’ll be more efficient for us to go in and update specific policies and clarify the whys.”

From a strategic perspective, Ms Copelin said Citi is looking to maintain its focus on deepening the relationship customers have with the bank when they take out a home loan.

She also sees the opportunity in introducing home loan customers to the bank through alternative channels.

“There are multiple products that could be introduced into mortgage lending, so the relationship doesn’t always start with a conversation about a home loan. It could start because a customer gets a Citibank credit card and our staff member would then spend time building a relationship with that customer over one, two, five or even 10 years.”

Ms Copelin said that because multiple products are delivered through different channels, Citi doesn’t review the home loan process in isolation.

“Each time we learn something new, it translates to an improvement in voice of the customer. Naturally we’d want to replicate that across the other product lines and distribution channels,” she said.

Going into 2016, the bank will be focusing on integration and working on its digital offering.

“From an in-house perspective, we’ve rolled out an eCRM tool that has provided visibility of where potential break points might occur,” Ms Copelin said.

“That’s exciting for us because it’s a consistent way of identifying a process flaw. Additionally, it either identifies a process gap or pinpoints where there might be a coaching opportunity for frontline staff that distributes the home loans.”

Another focus area relates to a more regional piece – a project called Credit Initiation.

“It’s also an in-house part as opposed to a digital solution for the customer experience, but the benefit for us is improved turnaround times, and simplification of processes,” Ms Copelin said.

“It will enable functionality to notify the customer and the broker of exact supporting document requirements and so on.”

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