However, a significant number of advisers are still dedicating as many as 12 or more hours to the task.
Mortgage Solutions latest reader poll asked, ‘On average, how much time do you dedicate to researching lending criteria each week?’
Some 34 per cent of our readers say they dedicated one to three hours a week to criteria research while 32 per cent spent a little more time, saying it took four to seven hours.
For those who allocated a little more time to the task, 16.5 per cent spent eight to 12 hours familiarising themselves with lending criteria and 18 per cent said it took 12 or more hours a week to do so.
Technology has made it easier
Clive Eccleston, director of Diverse Advisers, says new tools had made the otherwise “lengthy process” easier for his team to get the answers they required.
He adds: “There are more technology tools available now which has made researching easier and speaking to a business development manager (BDM) more case-specific.”
Because of this, his advisers spent one to three hours a week researching lending criteria.
Nicola Firth, CEO of Knowledge Bank, reiterates this, saying: “It really doesn’t need to take brokers three hours a week to research criteria when there are systems that can search more than 200 lenders in seconds.
“Brokers not using a system to search for criteria could well be not giving the best advice that they could be as they won’t be fully aware of all of the options available, which must be a frightening prospect from a compliance perspective and a bit worrying for their clients.”
Relying on existing knowledge
For others, it was a matter of banking the information they obtained once to avoid having to constantly research areas they felt they should already know.
Akhil Mair, managing director of Our Mortgage Broker, says: “You either know it or you don’t,” before adding it took him no longer than one to three hours.
“I know where to go, what lenders to reach out to,” he adds.
Tony Silver, director of White House Mortgages, shares the same sentiment. He says while he does research criteria if he needs to he could not conclusively say how long he spent doing so.
Silver’s own system has worked for him. He says: “I record the information and keep it on a file in Dropbox.
“I have a lender folder that I use to keep up to date information in and as I find it I save it in there. I’m doing a piece of business with a specialist bank and not only have I researched the information I needed, I save it for later.”
The results of the poll reflected just how varied brokers’ operations could be, with the top two answers of ‘one to three’ and ‘four to seven hours’ taking around a third of the votes each leaving the final two responses of ‘eight to 12’ and ‘more than 12’ collectively accounting for over a third of advisers.
Gavin Ameer-Beg, mortgage adviser at Acclaimed Mortgage Consultancy, says: “It can vary so much, it depends on what you’re looking at.”
More time needed
Chris Sykes, mortgage consultant at Private Finance, says he was “surprised” at the poll results as he feels more than one to three hours a week “should be expected”.
“We’re meant to be experts of the industry. Things are changing all the time and unless somebody is working with an extremely small panel of lenders, I’m quite surprised how many are saying one to three hours.”
He says his firm dedicates almost an hour each day reading news articles and added that keeping up with the 120 lenders they work with is “a full time job in itself”.
Furthermore, meetings with BDMs keep his team occupied. The firm receives at least three visits a week which take up around an hour and a half of this team’s time.