Mortgage Solutions’ most recent poll asked: “Are you getting the personal and business support you need from your firms, networks, clubs and the wider industry?”
Many felt not enough was being done as 40 per cent said there was not sufficient help and 32 per cent said there was some available, but they wanted to see more.
Only 26 per cent of brokers said they had “plenty of support” and accessing it was easy.
Network and club successes
Mike Owen, director of compliance and marketing at Diverse Advisers said he agreed with the majority as the support he had seen across the wider industry was varied.
However, when it came to his mortgage club Paradigm, Owen said they had been “excellent”.
He said the club was assisting advisers with daily product updates, Covid-19 news, regulatory and technical updates and by replying to email queries quickly.
Andy Wilson, director of Andy Wilson Financial Services was also satisfied with how his network, TenetLime, reacted to the pandemic.
“I believe we have been very well supported by them since the lockdown began. No members of their teams were furloughed, and I understand that practically all of them were despatched to work from home,” he said.
Wilson said this allowed functions such as compliance, marketing, payroll services and research to continue to run smoothly with sufficient support.
Miles Robinson, head of mortgages at Trussle said its network, Mortgage Advice Bureau, had also been supportive.
“We’re immensely grateful to our industry connections and lenders, many of whom have offered to run webinars and support the team however they can,” he said.
“While there is always room for improvement, we really value the support network we have as we navigate these unprecedented times.”
Brokers are also paying more attention to their mental health while in lockdown, something which was addressed in the most recent Mortgage Solutions podcast.
In the podcast, Ben Thompson, deputy chief executive at Mortgage Advice Bureau said it was important to connect with people outside of work as the pandemic affected everyone equally.
It appears much of this is already happening as the brokers responding to the poll said they did not know of any official support system they could turn to, but noted they were connecting with others informally.
Rob Gill, managing director and co-founder of Altura Mortgage Finance said: “There have been a few lenders, brokers, solicitors, general business partners getting in touch to see how people are, so that’s been quite nice.”
However, Gill suspected that much of the contact had a “business agenda” as a few calls had resulted in leads for lenders.
Otherwise, he said there was a lot of calling and messaging to check up on industry peers.
As a business owner, Akhil Mair, founder of Our Mortgage Broker, said he did not feel he needed much support but added his responsibilities were to look after himself and his employees.
“The simple thing is to speak to my staff on a daily basis and make sure they’ve got what they need, they’re healthy and they’re following government guidelines,” he said.
Although the brokers we spoke to were generally content with the wider support available to them, many cited lender and insurer operations as a point of contention.
Tony Silver, founder of White House Mortgages, said that was where his main frustrations lay as many were working with a skeleton operation meaning processes were taking longer to do than usual.
He said: “I’m waiting on a life cover policy quote that I can’t do automatically. There’s only one provider that can do the exact illustration that the client wants.
“However, they can only do this once a week on a Friday because someone needs to be in the office physically to do it. Under normal circumstances, it would be a few hours turnaround, maximum 24 hours.”
He also noted that some lenders had reshuffled their staff to departments handling coronavirus business interruption loan (CBIL) schemes, taking them away from their normal duties.
“My main business development manager (BDM) at one lender told me they had been reassigned to another department. So, my normal BDM isn’t there anymore,” Silver said.
“I’ve had another lender recently be accredited for CBILs, so instead of doing a regular development loan, they told me they would do it through CBILs. However, I have to wait for staff to complete their CBIL training first.”
Owen also said the “more negative side” with regards to support came from some lenders as offers and schemes were pulled.
“However, some lenders have now released new schemes which will be useful during the lockdown and after the ‘bounce back’,” he added.
Others were a little more impressed with how their side of the industry had handled the pandemic, with Wilson praising the equity release market for its response.
He said the equity release lenders he came across had “risen to the challenges” and issued regular bulletins on their efforts to process affected applications.
Wilson said: “I would also single out for praise the team at Answers in Retirement [part of Air Group], who have held regular video meetings to provide up to date information and discussions about lending conditions and, if anything, they have significantly improved their service to equity release advisers.”
Owen said the protection industry had also done well.
He added: “Similar support has been provided by protection providers in order to adapt to the current situation – fast tracking cases where no medical issues are concerned, increasing underwriting limits to reduce the requirement for medical evidence and things like that.”