While you cannot control the housing market, what you can do is diversify and offer associated services which benefit your customers and stand apart from the housing market.
Estate planning is one of these.
Mortgages and writing wills – is it a logical fit?
With over a third of all mortgages taken out today extending beyond the borrower’s 65th birthday it seems eminently sensible to organise wills, lasting powers of attorney, and if required, trusts at the same time that you write the mortgage.
For the first time, over 65s outnumber under 16-year-olds while 17 million people born in the baby boom period will reach retirement age over the next 15 years. Many are your customers and many more may come to you for advice in the future.
The Alzheimer’s Society also reports there are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK while 225,000 will develop dementia this year, many of whom will be under 65 years of age.
As a result, customers are increasingly aware that they should have lasting powers of attorney in place in relation to their financial matters.
More mortgage advice practices are choosing to offer will writing and estate planning services, often with a good degree of success.
What options do I have?
One of the attractions for mortgage advisers is that this is an extremely flexible business opportunity.
At the basic end, advice firms can opt to offer relatively simple products such as mirror wills for a competitive fixed fee, say £100 to £200.
More complex estate planning matters can span tax implications, legal issues and involve multiple generations of the same family. These naturally command much higher fees of thousands of pounds commensurate with the level of advice required.
There are relatively few barriers to entry given the unregulated nature of the wills, probate and trusts market.
However, good mortgage advice firms will of course be keen to protect their reputation for quality advice and service as well as guard against professional negligence claims being brought privately by aggrieved clients.
Where can I get training?
Membership of industry bodies such as the Institute of Professional Will Writers and the Society of Will Writers offers access to best practice guidance and training and an opportunity to meet other practitioners and benefit from their experience.
Other options include working in partnership with an established firm. These can potentially assist with more complex matters which may be better handled by a qualified solicitor or a member of the Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners (STEP).
As well as offering quality advice, having the right systems in place will be a huge help in running your new business stream efficiently and profitably.
There are several very good document management systems and software products available which include templates and precedents as well as offering a degree of protection against the possibility of offering incorrect or poor advice.
Expanding into will writing offers an opportunity to take a holistic approach to advising your client while the set-up costs are reasonably low and the rewards high.