I wanted to study to get more up-to-date with the sector. It had been 10 years since I had originally sat my mortgage exams in 2007, when it was a hugely different market from today.
The other reason for studying something new is to enable me to diversify my capabilities by understanding the more complex needs and circumstances of today’s clients.
It therefore made sense for me to choose the ‘certificate in advanced mortgage advice’ – a level 4 qualification offered by the Chartered Insurance Institute. This is the highest level of qualification for the sector, and in addition to giving me more in depth knowledge, the qualification will allow me to use the ‘Cert SMP’ designation as a member of the SMP.
In the world of pensions and investments, advisers aim towards the level 6, chartered status (even though regulation only dictates that a level 4 qualification is necessary for the provision of advice) and consumers seek out such individuals out to look after their needs.
Similarly, in the mortgage and protection world, this level 4 qualification enables advisers to demonstrate their understanding of the responsibilities that come with being a professional and their commitment of maintaining the highest level of professional standards.
I eventually found inspiration to open up my book and read the syllabus after watching a historic video of the Society of Mortgage Professionals (SMP) road shows – during which a case study was presented on bridging finance to give delegates a better understanding of the level 4 qualification.
And when I opened up the text book to see whether bridging finance was actually a big portion of the learning, something amazing happened: I began to read more of the syllabus, which got me more intrigued (there was information on the mortgage credit directive and upcoming buy-to-let tax changes…topics which were being discussed at great lengths at the time).
My initial curiosity led to me reading the whole syllabus and then got me started on the actual course material. Subsequently, I even attended a revision workshop.
Going back to bridging finance, having never dealt with it before, I have taken away a lot from this qualification that could be useful. For instance, I had no idea that when applying for bridging finance that is secured on both a client’s new home and their current home where the intention is to repay the finance from the eventual sale of the current home and partly from a mortgage on the new home, the lender is required to assess the value of the current home and request a copy of the new mortgage offer.
I also learnt that closed bridging loans are only available once contracts have been exchanged on a property sale.
These may be facts that are obvious to an advisers who deal with bridging finance on a regular basis, but is certainly useful for me to know if I ever get involved in that aspect of lending.
My tip to you today is not to get on to your next item of professional development immediately if you are not completely ready to do so. Choose to delay it if you must, but do at least take that first step by planning for it and scheduling it in your diary.
And when the time comes to do it, don’t delay any further. That would be procrastinating. Keep it manageable by spending 15 minutes carrying out the task at hand and as you progress and get a sense of achievement, you may just want to enhance that feeling by doing more.
The CII Level 4 certificate in advanced mortgage advice launched in August 2014 in the wake of demand from advisers. It goes beyond the FCA’s minimum exam standards and puts mortgage and protection specialists on par with their investment counterparts.