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Cream of the crop

  • 29/07/2002
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Staff are crucial to any business, so how do mortgage advisers ensure they recruit the best?

Staff recruitment and retention is the key to running a successful business but as the mortgage industry is relatively small compared with other financial sectors, it can be difficult to find competent members of staff.

Employers with proficient staff will want to hold on to them, which makes it more difficult to find skilled workers to join your team.

Mortgage brokers will be on the hunt for a person with numerous qualities. They will need to be well trained, competent, have an outgoing personality, be a good listener, have good administration skills, be able to work under pressure ‘ not to mention an ability to interpret a client’s situation to find the most appropriate product.

However, the job description is the easy part, it is finding a suitable recruit which proves difficult.

Depending on the position, qualifications will play a role in the selection process. Mortgage advisers will need to hold their Mortgage Advice Qualification (MAQ) or the Certificate of Mortgage Practice and Advice (CeMaP) before January next year, so if you employed someone without a qualification they will need to be supervised when giving advice until they qualify.

However, when recruiting sales people experience is as important as qualifications.

Phil Calvert, proprietor at Training Strategies, says: ‘To have a quality sales person qualifications are important, but their track record will speak louder. They need to be technically strong, but the real skill is how to turn technical knowledge into plain English which will, in turn, generate more business.’

As for finding a member of staff to fit the role, a direct approach appears to be the most successful means of selecting a recruit ‘ especially for more senior roles.

Calvert says: ‘The way to employ decent sales people is to approach them directly. Speak to someone with knowledge of people in the industry and keep an eye on the market. As part of your market research, not only should you be looking at company products, but also at where the good people are working.’

As part of his business, Frank Eve, director at recruitment consultants, Keating and Eve Search and Selection, runs a headhunting service which appears to be a successful method of hiring staff.

Eve explains:’Headhunting is the best way of obtaining senior staff. The mortgage industry is quite small and a headhunter will have specialist advice, for example, the type of salary to be paid to the new recruit, and where to find them.

‘We offer a headhunting service which looks at a company’s requirements. We build up a type of person in the market who will fill the role, looking at the structure of the company and providing a needs analysis around the structure.’

Other channels mortgage staff could try include advertising in the classified section of specialist press, or using a recruitment firm. However, these are not as fruitful, according to John Malone, national mortgage manager at Scottish Amicable.

He says: ‘I have used advertising and recruitment agencies, but have found the person did not fit the profile, so this would be the last method to use.’

Eve agrees: ‘Advertising is limited and does not usually include the full package offered by the company such as share options. Likewise, senior staff do not tend to respond to advertising, however, statistics show 60% of employees would consider moving if the right opportunity came along.’

Recruitment costs

The costs of employing a new recruit can be substantial. If using a headhunting service such as Eve’s, a percentage of the package offered to the client will have to be paid for the services of the headhunter.

Eve says: ‘Costs of recruiting can be large. We charge between 25% and 33% of the package of the individual taken on.’

If a member of staff has been recruited independently of a headhunter or recruitment consultant, costs can still mount up.

‘There are enormous costs involved. If you are paying someone £20,000 plus National Insurance contributions, this is what it will cost your business. Given the time the person takes to get used to the system, income may not come in until five or six months later,’ Malone says.

Recruiting is also not just about what you want, but also considering the needs of the prospective employee.

Eve says: ‘It is down to the principles of the firm to project the right image. Let the recruit speak to other people in the company and give them time to discuss it with their family ‘ do not harass them. Ask what issues they have, if they want a guaranteed payment, give it to them and never promote something you cannot deliver.’

He adds: ‘It is more about the atmosphere of the workplace, feeling part of something and knowing your contribution is important. This is vital regardless to whether you are a call centre worker or a marketing director.’

For companies wishing to recruit a new member of staff it is important to get it correct the first time as it could cost a business thousands of pounds recruiting a wrong choice. Using your knowledge of people already in the industry appears to be the most successful means of gaining staff, but at the same time it is important not only to consider your needs ‘ but also theirs.

Adele Burton is a staff writer

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