When asked ‘how much training do you really need to maintain your expertise?’, the majority, 39.6 per cent, opted for a minimum of 50 hours a year. Another big share of brokers, 36.6 per cent, went for around 35 hours a year, and 23.8 per cent thought 15 hours would suffice.
“If advisers are getting involved in complex areas then naturally they’ll do more than 50 hours a year because it requires a higher level of knowledge,” said Liz Syms, chief executive of Connect for Intermediaries, which this year launched a training academy for advisers.
“If the advisers are doing mostly residential, vanilla-type deals and it’s more a question of maintaining knowledge, a bit of market shift, bit of regulation, some new products, then the number of years would be at the lower end,” Syms added.
“Our academy is taking people with some knowledge, they are doing five to 10 hours before they begin to get everyone up to a level playing field. Then they are doing a whole week, eight hours a day, six months’ worth of support and additional training. In that first six months they will be doing nearer 150 hours, because they are very new at it and they are going at very specialist stuff,” she said.
Meanwhile Andrew Montlake, director at Coreco, said that the result was “pleasing because it shows that brokers value the job that they do and their professionalism. This is the type of job where you can never get enough training. The mortgage market is continually evolving.
“Training is a broad term. There’s technical product training, sales training—we recently did an excellent leadership training scheme. Being a broker requires a whole range of skill sets,” Montlake said.
”It’s encouraging that the majority are heading toward ‘more training is better than less’, rather than thinking they’re an expert on everything,” said David Hollingworth, associate director, communications L&C Mortgages.
“This market and the regulation is changing and evolving all the time. In order to keep on top of things more training is better than less for sure.
“It varies whether it’s in a classroom environment, or using online tools, to ensure that levels of knowledge are where you’d expect them to be. The pace of change can be substantial. It’s different for us in a bigger business compared to someone in a smaller business. There’s an element of plate spinning for everyone in terms of getting on and writing business but making the time that’s necessary for training,” Hollingworth said.
Syms added that delivering training in different formats can help to give it broader reach and to overcome time constraints. “Some of the lenders now are coming up with webinars and recorded training and that’s definitely useful for those who cannot spare half a day out of the office, but would happily sit for half an hour with earphones in and get their learning that way,” Syms said.
Stay in step with market developments
Other commentators agreed that the continually changing nature of the mortgage market put training high on the industry’s agenda.
“It doesn’t matter if you have been a broker for two years or 20, there is always more to learn, especially now there is so much more technology that can support brokers in their roles,” John Phillips, national operations director at Just Mortgages and Spicerhaart said.
“The mortgage market is constantly changing and it’s imperative for brokers to continually improve and expand their knowledge.
“All of our brokers receive a two-week induction if they are experienced and four weeks if they are not. Then ongoing, they receive two hours a week training. This includes in-branch training, group sessions and technology training, and we support all our brokers with this level of training throughout their careers,” Phillips said.