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Brokers’ wellbeing crucial as market picks up – Rees

by: Mat Rees, chief executive of Beneficial Network
  • 28/02/2024
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Brokers’ wellbeing crucial as market picks up – Rees
I think it’s fantastic that, as an industry, we are in a place where brokers’ mental wellbeing is firmly on the agenda and honestly being talked about among advisers.

About 10 years ago, if you were to ask an adviser how they were doing, the chances are you would have received a rather generic response about how their business volumes were. 

Nowadays, we are much more open as an industry when it comes to talking about our own personal challenges and how these are impacting us. 

This was shown recently, with one of the most commented on and visited threads on the industry forum Cherry last year simply asking, ‘How is everyone doing?’. This question sparked a huge number of responses, with brokers sharing their personal highs and lows when it came to the job of being a broker. As we move further into what is shaping up to be a busy year, it’s important we don’t lose sight of this camaraderie. 


Indications of a rebounding mortgage market 

Typically, around the start of the year we have one or maybe two indicators that the market is picking up, but currently we are seeing encouraging signs across the board. 

Mortgage rates are continuing their downward trend, with February’s average two-year fixed rate seeing its biggest monthly fall since December 2022. Meanwhile, Rightmove saw a record number of valuation requests in January, up 23 per cent year-on-year (YOY). 

Although this is, of course, welcome news after the sluggish end to the year, for brokers, it can at times be a market of extremes – a feast or a famine, as they say, and this is where the danger lies. 

While a slump in business can take its toll on brokers’ mental health, an excessive influx of business can be just as damaging. Last year, we saw the impact that rapid product withdrawals had on brokers’ wellbeing, and we may well see a recurrence of similar issues this year. 

Mortgage brokers are often at the frontline of the advice process and can, at times, also feel first-hand what their client is going through – good or bad. A report from Mind last year found brokers were suffering from a lack of mental health support in the workplace, with the volatile market of 2023 taking its toll. 


Managing the highs and lows 

As with any profession, finding the life/work balance is never easy, but as an industry, we can support each other. Last year, we saw brokers come together to make their voices heard over issues such as proc fees and last-minute product withdrawals. 

Most advisers will agree that they enter mortgage brokering to help clients. However, there are moments when the sheer volume of compliance and paperwork can overshadow the most enjoyable part of the job – helping clients. 

The landscape of mortgage broking has also changed, especially since the pandemic. While technology has streamlined processes and led to increased productivity, it has also resulted in fewer face-to-face meetings between brokers and their clients, leading to a different kind of workday for many – again, with elements of the personal touch missing. 

There is, of course, a sense of solidarity between brokers – something we see among our own members – and I believe this could explain the increase in appointed representatives (ARs) the overall market saw last year. Paul Day’s recent Network League Table, which is based on the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA’s) register, showed AR figures increased by 110 in Q4 across the main networks. 

I suspect many such brokers were looking for a sense of belonging during some of the more testing times last year. 

So, while it’s great news that 2024 is shaping up to be a good one, it’s important that we continue to prioritise our own wellbeing, and the broker community, especially, continues to look out for each other. 

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