Some 27 per cent of furloughed mortgage professionals have resumed their duties, a recent Mortgage Solutions poll found, while an additional 25 per cent of firms have brought some of their staff back.
In response to the question: Have you returned all your support staff back from furlough? six per cent of respondents said employees were still furloughed, while 10 per cent had to make redundancies.
Some 17 per cent of respondents kept all their staff on throughout the changes in the market while the question did not apply to 13 per cent of brokers who work as sole traders.
Driven by the market
For the broker firms who made use of the furlough scheme, the lift in demand caused by the stamp duty holiday gave them ample reason to bring staff back to cope with business levels.
David Thomas, joint managing partner at Chadney Bulgin, said out of his 85 office employees, 22 were put on furlough including the receptionist, but they were making a gradual return with the last employee expected back on 21 September.
“We have staggered partially as a result of the changes in new business levels coming in but now the market is buzzing again everyone will be back, so that’s good news.
“It’s very buoyant and the stamp duty holiday has mostly driven that,” he said.
It was the same for Hiten Ganatra, managing director of Visionary Finance, who furloughed two mortgage administrative administrative staff and one office manager.
Although the firm was occupied during the shutdown and reopening of the property market, Ganatra said the firm was mostly acting as “busy fools” trying to get accustomed to the changes and challenges of the market.
However, once business volumes picked up, the mortgage administrative staff were needed to handle additional obstacles.
Ganatra said: “Business cranked up again but also, where mortgages took two to three weeks to get an offer, they now take six weeks, so the admin function and processing element has increased.
“The admin staff are spending a lot more time firefighting and trying to get everything through underwriting.”
The wind down of the furlough scheme in preparation for its end on 1 October did not influence decisions to bring staff back. In fact, brokers admitted that were it not for the busy market, serious considerations regarding the workforce would need to be made.
Thomas said if the mortgage market did not return to the levels it did, he would have had to make the “difficult” choice of keeping staff furloughed before ultimately making them redundant in October.
On the other end of the scale, the volume in new business resulted in the expansion of some firms. Howard Rueben, director at HD Consultants said because his company’s business model is weighted towards his brokers being self-employed, no staff were furloughed or let go but instead, more were hired.
“We have had to recruit more brokers to help us to cope with the increasing volumes of new mortgage and protection enquiries.
“I lived and just about survived financially through the 2007/8 credit crunch period. Many hard lessons were learned about how to maintain a strong and professional foundation throughout testing times,” he said.
“The lessons learned back then have now helped us to continue, and grow, as a cohesive team during these past few months too,” he added.
Others are more cautious however, such as Ganatra who said the mortgage market had “a lot more pain to go through”.
He said: “As the reality sets in and government initiatives wind down, there might be a lot more job losses. It’s impossible to imagine there not being a wider impact.
“There are many moving parts, we just don’t know which way it’s going to go.”