Duncombe is set to join Accord in March as head of intermediary distribution.
As he reflects on his time at Britain’s biggest distributor, Duncombe said brokers’ abilities to react to change – and come out fighting fit – is one of the most striking things he will take away.
He told Mortgage Solutions: “Going from 50% intermediary share to about 75% share – that’s come off the back of good advice, quality and just doing a really good job.”
Regulation has undoubtedly been the biggest challenge over the past five years, according to Duncombe.
He said: “It’s always been two steps forward, one step back – the market gets itself into a really strong position and has to adapt.”
And some aspects of rules from the authorities are now too severe – stunting development and innovation, Duncombe believes.
He said: “We are hampered by some of the regulatory impacts and, some of the unintended consequences of the sensible things that were done after the credit crunch now mean that lenders aren’t able to be as flexible as they would like to be.”
For example, lenders have to stress test borrowers at interest rates of 7% as part of affordability.
Duncombe said: “The reality in the next three to five year of seeing rates of 7%? It seems a very high figure.”
He also points to recent changes in the buy-to-let market and added: “We’re not seeing fewer people purchasing buy-to-let properties – and the supply isn’t growing.”
However, the outgoing L&G Mortgage Club director says the market and industry is in a strong position.
He’s also proud of his work at the club and the value that it adds to brokers and lenders.
No time for complacency
Unfortunately, intermediaries can’t afford sit back and relax, Duncombe warned.
He said: “Customers need more advice than ever…. We’re in a good place, there’s still work to do but we can’t be complacent – challenges will come in and take over.”
Duncombe urged brokers to use 2018 to prepare and get into the strongest possible position for a torrent of change expected to hit the industry from 2019 – technology and the transformation it will spark.
He said: “We’ve not necessarily yet seen the big impact – the big shifts that have affected everybody… But it’s happening.
“If you’re not ready, if you’re not prepared, if you haven’t done anything about it, when it does come in 2019 / 2020… you need to be ready for it… Technology is there; it will impact the market.”
The challenge for intermediaries will be to alter the way business is done and change their relationship with clients.
Duncombe said: “The broker will absolutely still be relevant but they have to use technology to help them create capacity.
“Customers will want things as easily as possible, but they’ll still want advice.”
For example, technology will increasingly be used for data gathering, as well as pre-population instead of keying in, as well as sourcing and applying to lenders.
Duncombe said: “That’s great for a broker – if they can save 25-30% of their time doing the stuff a computer can do – then why not?”
In theory this gives advisers more time to talk about issues such as protection and their family’s mortgage requirements.
At the same time, brokers should be looking at how their relationship with customers is maintained.
Duncombe said: “Rather than three months before the mortgage terminates sending a letter out, it’s from day one of the completion.”
He added that customers should feel their broker is a part of their life.