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As confidence dips, brokers must be more bullish

by: Mark Long
  • 07/08/2012
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As confidence dips, brokers must be more bullish
Intermediary confidence may have dipped, but are you are a 'glass half full' or 'glass half empty' reader?

Working in the research industry, I tend to be the former – some days it’s the only thing that gets me through.

But what about intermediary confidence, the important bellwether for the sector, the sales channel and business health?

Every month, for more than five years, BDRC Continental has interviewed a representative sample of intermediaries about their confidence levels, asking for their perspective on ‘the mortgage industry’ the ‘intermediary sector’ and ‘their own business’.

The results demonstrate that broker outlook is inextricably linked to events unfolding around them in the office and out on the road with clients.

Intermediaries consistently feel more bullish about the prospects for their own business than those for either the broader mortgage market or the distribution channel within which they work.

To illustrate this, in our Q2 survey, only 10% of intermediaries felt ‘very confident’ about the outlook for the mortgage market or the intermediary channel, contrasting with 32% who felt upbeat about the prospects for their own business.

The drivers of confidence, or lack of it, are of course many and varied. Recently though, we’ve seen tightening of lending criteria as a key detractor of confidence:

The market is so flat at the moment and the lenders seem to want us to jump through hoops to get an application through. They come back and request things like a further pay slip or confirmation of deposit. It’s all bit by bit. A standard mortgage now seems to take a lot longer.”

From the other end of the confidence spectrum:

“We have a large client base, lots of enquiries, lots of introducers and are more likely to expand than contract. The industry lacks any form of common sense because lenders’ criteria are preventing an efficient housing market and people can’t get mortgages that they can afford. I would like to see the easing of criteria.”

Intermediary confidence has dipped in 2012, but brokers are a resilient bunch, tending to look for a silver lining. Who knows, perhaps a few ‘half full glasses’ might help.

Mark Long is director at BDRC Continental

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