2nd July 2009

The Lighter Side of Lending - Issue No. 4

Let's look back on the 2009 financial year, loosen up a bit and look at the lighter side of lending; the humorous side to our work which will help us enjoy the business a little more.

The Telephone

Nothing says more about our business than how we answer the phone. The office telephone instantly projects an image - good or bad. Automated phone systems haven't helped us earn favour with our customers. Regardless of the system, it's rare when the person you call answers and you get an intermediary of some kind.

There is the 'chummy' intermediary. She tells you, "He's on the phone, and it looks like he will be a long, long time." I always wonder how she can tell it will be a long, long time.

What about the 'retribution response'. The person wants to get even with the party calling. "I'm sorry, he is in the office, with a client and the door is closed." Whoa.

There's the very helpful intermediary. She will do anything to get you to the party. "Mr Smith has just stepped into the men's room. Do you want me to go and get him?" I assured this lady I didn't want her to burst into the men's room shouting my name.

I have heard from some Brokers when they contact their lender "Our underwriters don't talk to people." Poorly stated. Others say it better, "Our underwriters only talk to loan officers." Makes you wonder if they have a horrible life.

And meetings can keep customers from getting good service. "They are all in some kind of sales meeting and can't be disturbed." (I am ringing because I want to do business).

Some more phone gems:

  • Enquiring about a loan: "There isn't anyone here who can help you right now. And there won't be anyone here later, either. But you can call back later." This office needs the telephone doctor.
  • I called an office to enquire about an ad I had seen. "They all quit," I was told. Abruptly.
  • "He stepped off the floor for a moment" (the office is on the twelfth floor).
  • "We have 3 Barrys. Which one do you want?"
  • "They’ve all gone to the pub - it’s Friday!"

Avoiding Responsibility

Never personally announce a reduction in your workforce. That looks like it was your decision; send for a consultant. Explain that you need to cut the payroll. Have them study your work force then have them announce you need less people - consultants don't mind taking the blame. After the fallout no one ever sees them again.

There's a lot of other good advice for avoiding responsibility like, "Nothing is a good thing to do and always the right thing to say." And this, "When faced with a strategic decision, appoint a task force. The situation will be resolved long before they reach a conclusion."

Managers are always concerned with productivity. "Frequent pep talks will help keep your support staff motivated." Like, "Taking work home isn't enough. If you aren't taking some loan files to church with you on Sunday morning, you're not meeting my standards."

When in doubt don't call things what they are!

  • A low property valuation - a negative security valuation outcome.
  • High ratio - temporarily not conforming to generally accepted income standards.
  • Poor credit - inability to successfully manage business matters.
  • Bankruptcy - a greater inability to successfully manage business matters.
  • Not enough money to settle - unfortunate transient financial mismanagement.
  • Late payments for previous mortgage - policy differences with a lender.
  • Foreclosure - involuntary equity transfer.
  • Lied on the application - inattention to detail, or 'mis-spoke'.
  • Divorce - persistent spouse miscommunication.
  • 10 X 90 day Lates - lack of appropriate counselling.
  • Less than two years on the job - career adjustment period.
  • Less than two years at residence - lifestyle preference.

The Lighter Side of Lending is an occasional series of collected experiences drafted by Daryl Hill our National Relationship Manager with 30 years service.

Previous Issues
6 December 2008
3 April 2008
9 April 2009


Best regards
Iain Pepper




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Iain Pepper
Head of Lending

Iain Pepper is a Vice-President and the Head of Lending for the La Trobe Group.Read full profile here.








La Trobe is one of Australia's leading independent specialist mortgage Financiers. Its business includes residential mortgages, commercial mortgages, and investment services operating one of Australia's largest Mortgage Funds under AFSL 222213. It employs over 145 staff and has raised over AUD$10Billion to assist over 100,000 customers since inception in 1952.

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