In a career with more ups and downs than a rollercoaster, there are tough yet valuable lessons for advisers along the way.
We asked brokers to look back and share their biggest realisations about the industry.
Careful with marketing
A huge part of being a broker is generating leads and standing out from the competition.
Jamie Thompson, broker at Jamie Thompson Mortgages, wishes he had specialised earlier.
He said: “I regret trying to be all things to all people in the early days. I thought that’s what I needed to do in order to not miss an opportunity to write business.
“Now I specialise in some super niche scenarios such as PhD students receiving a stipend, or those on fixed term contracts, and opportunities fall at my feet.”
Matthew Fleming-Duffy, director at Cherry Mortgage & Finance, agreed that it is vital to think “carefully about the cost of advertising as intermediaries have to compete with huge advertising budgets of large financial institutions.”
Focus on giving your client the best experience and you will never be sort of referrals, says Imran Hussain, director at Harmony Financial Services.
He added: “All the prancing about on social media for likes will never match a referral from a client who knows, likes and trusts you.
“Also, being known in your local market is unmatched, especially in a service business like mortgage advice. Social media platforms come and go, so don’t let any social media guru tell you otherwise.”
Find your process and stick to it
Finding out how to work seamlessly can be a challenge that takes a lot of learning at first.
Matt Poole, director at Poole Family Financial, said: “There’s so much to learn, I learn every day.”
He recommends finding out as much outside the intermediary job as you can to understand people’s positions and how credit can affect your clients.
Turning to peers for advice and following the “right people” in the industry will support a broker’s career, he added.
Creating a steadfast process at the outset is key, Lewis Shaw, founder of Shaw Financial Services, said.
He added: “Define your process, stick to it and never ever deviate. Secondly, always get a credit report regardless of what a customer says.”
Imran Hussain agreed that processes are important. He said: “If you don’t get the client on board with your process, you are either explaining it poorly or the client may not be the right fit for your business.”
Business relationships impact your reputation
Brokers are interconnected to many other businesses. Picking the wrong people to work with can hurt your reputation.
Robert Payne, director at Langley House Mortgages, said: “We had a panel of solicitors available to us when we set up the company and we recommended them to our clients based on their panel ranking system, which resulted in some of the worst customer experiences our clients had ever been involved in.
“We’ve since built relationships with more trusted solicitors but it reflected badly on us at the time.”
Equally, finding a network that is the right fit is not easy, according to Ian Hewett, founder at the Bearded Mortgage Broker.
He added: “If you are a new broker starting out on your journey, get ready to shovel your way through heaps of dung to find a gem of a network.
“If you want an honest assessment of this as a career choice, pick up the phone, send a DM, visit an office and by hook or by crook speak to an independent broker.
“You may soil yourself when you hear some of the horror stories, but you will also love the good parts of this career.”
Believe in yourself
Finally, have confidence to create a thriving business and have faith in your ability.
Matt Poole said his biggest mistake was not believing in himself sooner.
He added: “I’ve failed a lot of times but you’ve got to believe in your own ability.”
Scott Taylor-Barr, financial adviser at Carl Summers Financial Services, added: “The one thing I did wrong was being too keen.
“When you’re starting out and have very few prospects it’s very easy to follow up too quickly and too often, coming across as a bit desperate.
“They might be number one on your to-do list, but you could be tenth on theirs. Relax, have faith that you are doing a good job, and give prospects time and space. It worked wonders for me once that penny dropped.”