We’re going to use 3 main limbs for this in order of the size of the dataset – 1) Trustpilot, 2) IFG’s own survey, 3) Our own direct experience.
Al Rayan has an impressive 4/5 average rating based on 216 reviews. That’s a very good score indeed.
Unfortunately, Trustpilot do not allow you to filter the reviews by product so some of those 216 reviews will be for other things like Al Rayan’s banking offering. That’s a real shame, but what we’ve done is manually gone through the 216 reviews and picked out a couple of key positive and negative reviews on the mortgage process specifically.
Let’s look at the first negative Trustpilot review:
With the caveat that we don’t know the ins and outs of the case, this is a pretty damning review. We have anecdotally heard that Al Rayan’s checks can be quite cumbersome at times. In many ways, this is probably reflective of the fact that they are, relative to mainstream banks, small. They have to take fewer risks than bigger banks and that probably means greater checks. But it’s worth bearing this in mind when it comes to planning your timeline.
Let’s take a look at another negative review:
This complaint raises a few issues: 1) solicitor issues (remember what I said earlier about solicitor problems?) and 2) customer service.
Legal issues can arise for all sorts of reasons and, generally speaking, although the delays might be there, things do usually get sorted. The problems that arise differ from property to property and we don’t know enough in this case to really dig deep.
Slightly more concerning is the lack of customer service. From this review and others that we have gone through, it is clear that Al Rayan could do a much better job on the customer service side.
On the plus side, Al Rayan take time to reply to every Trustpilot review and that suggests they listen.
72% of all Trustpilot reviews were 5*, so we weren’t short of positive reviews to pick up on. Again, let’s look at two.
This looks like a very happy customer indeed. Someone who got his home purchase succesfully completed on time and without any issue. He is also a fan of the customer service. This is positive, and shows that Al Rayan do have the ability to deliver great customer service.
This is another glowing review demonstrating the bank’s ability to manage the process really efficiently.
IFG’s own survey findings
We reached out to Al Rayan customers from the IFG e-mail list to get their honest views on Al Rayan. Here at the highlights for some average scores for key questions we asked.
Q: If you were buying a house today, would you use AR again?
Average result: 6.3/10
Q: How likely are you to recommend AR to someone you know?
Average result: 6.2/10
Q: Thinking about customer service and support specifically, what rating would you give Al Rayan?
Average result: 3.1/10
Q: Now thinking overall, what rating would you give Al Rayan?
Average result: 2.9/10
Other interesting findings (and tips!) from our survey
We also asked some questions that weren’t just about numbers. Things like asking about what they wish they knew beforehand and what they’d get Al Rayan to change if they could.
Here’s a list of things people wish they knew beforehand:
- “Extra unexpected costs (e.g. chancel insurance etc)”
- “That they will have two separate deeds […] us as tenants (leasehold) and they are the owners”. IFG note: we’ve explained this in this article.
- “How long it would take”.
- “A formal document on the process of giving lump sums would have been useful.”
- “They don’t allow the facility to pay extra amounts on fixed rates.”
These are some really useful tips if you are about to enter the process.
Our reader recommendations to make Al Rayan better
We asked our survey respondents to explain one thing that they would advise Al Rayan to change. Here are some of their thoughts:
- Improve the customer service
- Make the process faster
- Try to be more sharia-compliant
- More explanation of the difference in their offering (e.g. what makes it halal)
- Clarity around the justification for their higher prices [IFG note: we have explained this in this article].
- More empathy and flexibility – the process is currently too rigid especially with regard to suitability requirements.
Al Rayan would do well to take notice of these customer recommendations. Some things are hard (e.g. speed of process) but other things like communicating how they come to their pricing is a relatively easy thing to do. By the same token though, it is easy for customers to say that a bank should be more flexible, but given the high regulation of the industry, Al Rayan understandably adopts a cautious approach. There’s a balance here, as nobody wants Al Rayan to face regulatory pressure or be known as the Islamic bank that went wrong.
our person experience
Both of us have had experience of Al Rayan personally. Mohsin when he was in the homebuying process (but ultimately didn’t go with Al Rayan) and Ibrahim also during his homebuying process (still ongoing). We both know people in our circles who have taken our Al Rayan mortgages.
Our direct experience was overall good. They have always been courteous and relatively swift in their communications and overall things have gone smoothly.
One area we think they could improve on is their flexibility when it comes to the requirements. They have some very conservative requirements (based on their risk-averse approach) but having some degree of flexibility would be nice. However, we appreciate that a regulated bank has to have policies in place.