This week, Brightstar Financial revealed it is to run a series of webinars on specialist finance to help brokers understand the opportunities the sector may present for them, while next month Mortgage Solutions will be hosting the mortgage administrator iVent, an online event featuring seminars, downloadable factsheets, and the chance to ‘visit’ lender stands from your desktop.
And brokers suggested that the rapid pace of today’s market means that increasing amounts of broker education will need to take place online.
Brokers are time poor
Malcom Davidson, managing director of UK Moneyman, said that while everything used to be done face-to-face with a visit from a BDM, sometimes those visits get in the way of the business now.
He said: “If they drop in without an appointment, I feel obliged to take time out to deal with them. Some may be targeted based on how many brokers they see that week – I’m not sure it adds much value to our business to be honest.”
However, he praised lenders that have adopted a hybrid approach of field and telephone based BDMs, as well as live chat facilities, saying: “Those have got it right. You can get quicker answers, there are so many more ways of finding out about criteria and products.”
He also noted that while he makes a point of attending certain industry events every year, it can be difficult to justify the time spent at them.
“We are so time poor, you can’t really afford a full day out of your diary to hopefully learn one or two things,” he explained
Paying lip service to learning
Paul Flavin, managing director of Zing Mortgages, cautioned that brokers may be ‘sleepwalking’ towards a time where their main income will be in more specialised markets, and said he hopes that the vanilla market “lasts long enough” for more intermediaries to see the writing on the wall and become more specialist.
He added that so long as the incomes generated from vanilla business are sufficient for advisers to not feel they need to learn about other areas of the market, then brokers may continue to simply “apply lip service” to embracing emerging sectors.
“Real change will be forced through necessity. Until then courses, in whatever manifestation, are worthwhile, but only a very few leave the room and take effective action,” he concluded.
Keep it simple
Andy Wilson, founder of Andy Wilson Financial Services, said that his initial source of information about product innovations and developments in the market come from publications like Mortgage Solutions, adding: “ If I read something I am interested in, I will then look at the lender’s own website for more information.”
He said that BDMs are now used as a means of problem solving rather than education about new areas of the market, and that so long as they are there when a problem or query occurs, that is sufficient.
Wilson continued: “Brokers need to keep an awareness of changes when they occur so that they are not reinventing the wheel every time an unusual lending situation comes along. Lenders and distributors simply need to keep the flow of information timely, accurate and simple to digest, as we get many emails each day to read and assess.”