This week Mortgage Solutions polled brokers on how they handle the holiday period. More than a quarter (27%) said they passed their caseload over to a colleague to look after while they were away, but the majority (52%) said they continued working even while they were supposedly off duty. More than one in ten questioned what a holiday even was.
James Mole, head of mortgages at Gingko Independent, said that working out the right way to handle holiday cover could be tough.
He said: “If you are a self-employed broker, you aren’t being paid to take a holiday, so it can be very hard to switch off when you have some time off. Even employed brokers earn the majority of their income through commission, so they struggle to effectively give it away to a college or worse still, the competition.”
However, he argued that people who want to be successful will have to go above and beyond what their competition is doing, and if the competition is working while on the beach, then they may need to as well.
Rachel Lummis, mortgage adviser at Xpress Mortgages, said that life as a broker is “like being on a huge hamster wheel”, requiring brokers to work to their client’s schedule rather than their own.
She continued: “It’s difficult to not quickly respond to that email you receive Friday night or over the weekend and actually being available outside of 9-5 makes us valued by our customers and why they use us time and time again. Being on holiday doesn’t really change that.
“A recent week away in Greece saw me actually mentally plan my week around work still, although I was hundreds of miles away – my sun lounger at the pool even had power so I could keep my phone charged all day, there was no excuse,” she added.
The role of technology
It’s clear that developments in technology have made it much harder for brokers to separate themselves from work while on their holidays.
David Sheppard, managing director of Perception Finance, said that with smartphones and tablets being linked to office email, a certain portion of each day of a break can easily be taken up responding to client emails. He added that while it would be good to leave that to staff still in the office, with every mortgage being individual to a client’s needs and situation, the handover of each client could take a substantial amount of time.
He said: “This is in no way helped by the urgency that most people feel when they find a property they wish to buy and the pressure placed on them by the estate agent that things must happen within a short timeframe. I have frequently received emails from clients while away that start with the words, ‘I know you are on holiday but…’.”
Xpress Mortgages’ Lummis concluded: “With technology, life moves at a much faster pace; gone are the days when you sent a letter and would expect a response a week later. With email, many expect an immediate response, or they will simply move on to the next broker firm. The quiet uninterrupted holidays will have to wait until retirement.”