What is the Lender Exchange?
The Lender Exchange is a secure web portal. The portal addresses the issue of multiple lenders seeking similar information from law firms in order to manage their conveyancing panels. Lender Exchange will allow law firms to submit their data through a single, secure system which those lenders, who are part of the scheme, will be able to access data that allows them to independently manage their panels.
Why has it come about?
In recent years, mortgage lenders have experienced a significant risk from mortgage related fraud which has led to substantial losses. Consequently, lenders have regularly sought more information from law firms about their operations and the individuals who work for them. Decision First have developed the Lender Exchange system to enable law firms to easily provide lenders with the information they need to manage their panels and satisfy the additional regulatory requirements on lenders to conduct increasing levels of due diligence. Law firms will benefit by only having to provide information once to a single, central point which will significantly reduce the impact of complying with multiple information requests.
Will lenders still be free to appoint conveyancers onto their panels who don’t register on the Lender Exchange?
Whilst lenders will decide which firms they will appoint onto their panel, those lenders signing up to use the Lender Exchange will make it a mandatory condition of panel membership that firms submit information via Lender Exchange.
Why are more large lenders not signed up?
Decision First is actively engaged in a dialogue regarding the Lender Exchange with most lenders but some have moved to a position of signing up quicker than others. Some lenders already employ different panel criteria with their own 'managed' panels and the governance procedures vary greatly from lender to lender.
Is there a cost to put our information into Lender Exchange?
The charging structure is based on the relative size of the firm and judged by the number of partners, members or directors that run the organisation, whether they specialise in conveyancing or not. An annual fee is charged for administration of the system irrespective of the number of lenders panels to whom a firm is applying /members of – whether it be 2 or 20 lenders, there is no increase in charge for law firms. The annual fee payable will be fixed for the first 3 years.
|No. Partner, directors, members||Annual Fee|
|Sole practitioner||£285 +VAT|
What period does this cover?
Firms are charged on an annual basis to cover a 12 month period. Firms applying to join part way through the year will be charged for the portion of the year remaining until the renewal date. The charge covers annual renewal to the Lender Exchange which lenders (who are signed up to it) will rely on for administering their panels.
How do firms pay?
The administration charge is an annual fee which is paid by direct debit. The fee chargeable will be based on the number of partners, members or directors in employment by the firm at renewal.
Why do we need the Lender Exchange system?
The purpose of this scheme is to reduce overheads on panel firms through a solution which allows the provision and validation of information into a central place. The scheme reduces the risk of lenders introducing individual panel charges to recover the increasing cost of administering their panels. This would become a significant burden for firms and a much more costly situation. By adopting the Lender Exchange system, lenders and law firms benefit by using a central point for the collection of information, thereby avoiding the need for firms to regularly provide the same information to multiple lenders. In addition, lenders and law firms will be able to communicate (via a mailbox) directly with each other saving a huge amount of time and effort in tracking down the right person to query each other on matters relating to panel membership and panel applications.
How do I (a law firm) apply to be on a lender’s panel?
There are two distinct routes:
Firm already registered with Lender Exchange – once logged in the firm simply need to navigate to the Panels screen and select the relevant lender by ticking the checkbox. After ensuring all information is up to date the application should then be submitted via the Home page. If the requisite lender is not listed this means the firm does not meet the minimum criteria for that lender and cannot apply at this time.
Firm not currently registered with Lender Exchange – will first need to register on the system, during which they will be asked to complete some pre-qualification questions which will determine which lenders they can apply to. The firm can then select one or more of the lenders listed before being provided with login credentials to complete the remainder of the process. If a particular lender is not listed this means the firm does not meet the minimum criteria for that lender and cannot apply at this time.
For all applications, acceptance to the selected lender panel(s) is not guaranteed and in some cases the lender may require a mortgage application to be in progress before the application will be reviewed by them.
Will submitting information guarantee me access to a lender’s panel (if they are one of the lenders signed up to use the system)?
No. The ultimate decision to accept a firm onto a lender’s panel rests with that lender and Decision First has no ability to influence or control that decision. The Lender Exchange facilitates the management of those lenders panels and through provision of validated data which allows lenders to apply their own specific criteria in order to reach their individual decisions on panel acceptance.
Does payment of the fee guarantee acceptance onto panels?
No. The charge is to cover the administration of the system and the validation of information on behalf of lenders. Once all the data has been processed, lenders then make a decision whether or not to appoint/reappoint a firm.
Can I apply for more than one lender?
Yes. As the Lender Exchange is a common platform (available to all lenders) firms will be able to apply to all those lenders whose panel they wish to be on – assuming those lenders have signed up to use the Lender Exchange. Some lenders may require a mortgage application to be in progress with a customer that has specified a law firm before they allow a panel application for that firm to be submitted.
What is the minimum set of data required to be provided?
The system will highlight the minimum set of data required. If the minimum set of data is not provided, it will not be possible to apply/reapply for panel membership by any lender.
What will you do with my data?
All data will be stored in accordance with the Data Protection Act. Personal data is used in order to perform background checks with credit reference, identity and fraud agencies, and to validate submitted data against data held by organisations such as Law Societies and the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.
How can you guarantee my data is secure?
As we work for, and with, some of the largest organisations in the country, we adhere to their stringent levels of security, meaning all data is encrypted and held in a secure database.
Which lenders will have access to my data?
Only those lenders that have signed up to use the Lender Exchange and who you select from the list of lenders whose panel you wish to be on.
How do I update the system with any changes?
You will be required to inform us, via the Lender Exchange system, of any material changes as they occur. You will be asked to log onto the system every 90 days as a minimum and will need to respond to a set of questions relating to the key information about your firm and any changes will need to be documented (any changes to ownership structure, premises, account details, partners joined/left, constitution changes, insurance changes, letterhead amendments etc.). Users who have informed us of any of these changes in the interim period will not be prompted for a further 90 days from their last change.
How do I update the system with new documents (such as practising certificates, renewed insurance cover and company letterhead)?
Users can simply upload an electronic image of the documents (PDF is the preferred format, but many other image formats are acceptable JPG, PNG, GIF, TIFF, etc.).
What happens if I inadvertently supply incorrect information to the scheme?
No information supplied will be reviewed until all required information has been submitted. If there has been an error, firms can amend the information supplied. Firms will be required to update information regularly in order that the Lender Exchange has the most current information available.
Does this apply in all the jurisdictions of the UK?
Yes. If a firm works for a lender in that jurisdiction, they will need to submit their details via the Lender Exchange.
I am a member of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme. Why isn't this sufficient / why do I have to provide the same information to Lender Exchange.
We appreciate that some firms may have provided some similar information to The Law Society to be part of the Conveyancing Quality Scheme and will have incurred a fee for this. However, the information we require is not identical to that required for CQS accreditation, which, after all is about the manner in which work is undertaken, so is more process oriented. CQS membership is therefore not an alternative to the Lender Exchange system.
Do you have to be member of CQS to register with the new scheme?
No. The CQS is not a requirement for membership to the Lender Exchange. Some lenders do however require CQS as part of their own panel criteria. CQS membership does not guarantee that firms will satisfy lenders’ criteria.
Is the scheme open to both licensed conveyancers and solicitors?
The scheme is open to lawyers from every UK jurisdiction and practice constitution, including Alternative Business Structures.
Will there be any eligibility pre-vetting before being asked to pay the fee?
Yes. A set of pre-qualification questions are presented to firms registering new with Lender Exchange. If, on answering these questions, a law firm does not meet the minimum criteria of at least one of the lenders signed up to the scheme, the firm will not be able to progress any further and no charge will apply.
Is the registration by firm or individual? What happens if there are changes to the firm’s structure?
Information is held at a firm level requiring all offices and all relevant staff to be entered. Details of all partners, directors or members in the firm are required, together with details of all fee earners who carry out conveyancing. If individuals join or leave the firm, the firm will be required to update the system accordingly.
How does this interact with the Lenders’ Handbook?
The Lender Exchange is a system designed to allow law firms to provide information to lenders, allowing the lender to retain/appoint the firm to their panel. Whilst each lender’s version of the CML handbook (part 2) can be hosted on the system for access by firms, there is currently no direct integration with the handbook.