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Broker guilt: Thick skin, tolerance and talking are key when mortgages go wrong – analysis

  • 16/09/2022
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Broker guilt: Thick skin, tolerance and talking are key when mortgages go wrong – analysis
A mortgage transaction is always unpredictable, but the current economic climate is heightening the volatility of the process. How do brokers cope when deals break down and what advice do they have?

Brokers have feelings too. And guilt when a transaction has issues or fails is perfectly natural, but not allowing those emotions to weigh one down can be needed for longevity in the profession. 


‘Days where you need a massive gin’

Rhys Schofield, managing director of Peak Money, said anyone who genuinely cared about their clients would feel “deeply when things go awry”. 

He added: “The problem is that so many other parts of the process don’t seem to value the customer experience as much as the broker. A lot of conveyancers treat it as an afterthought and no conscientious broker would take a month to look at a document, so why is it acceptable for some lenders?” 

Schofield recommended continuous communication with clients to keep the process transparent in the face of delays. 

He said: “If something is going to take a long time or might be a bit iffy, then tell the client and keep them abreast. Rather than give no update, head it off and say ‘I haven’t forgotten about you but we’re waiting on X’ and if it’s outside your sphere of influence try not to beat yourself up. If you’ve genuinely done everything you can, and kept your client in the loop, there isn’t any more you could have done.  

“And there will be days where you need a massive gin.” 

Imran Hussain, director at Harmony Financial Services, echoed Schofield’s views and said brokers who cared about their clients and service would “always have a frank and honest conversation” about any possible surprises along the way. 

“When things aren’t plain sailing, it’s our job to take the stress and ensure the client has a smooth journey. It could be the client’s first purchase or 10th, it’s our job to ensure they understand the reason for any possible hiccups in the process as we are the main point of contact for clients.” 


‘It’s a tough gig’

Rob Peters, principal at Simple Fast Mortgage, said separating emotions from a mortgage transaction was easier said than done. 

He added: “It’s very hard to both have your cake and eat it. Either you care about your client outcomes personally, or you do not. Those that do will deliver the best customer experience and outcome, because they personally care. They will strive to go the extra mile to achieve this.  

“To extract yourself from this goes against human nature.” 

Acknowledging it was difficult to not feel personally attached to each case, Peters warned that this “takes a toll on the individual broker”.  

“We see many brokers on forums who are unable to cope with this conflict of emotions and many leave the industry suffering from mental health issues. It’s a tough gig, but for those who are able to rise the waves, it can also be massively rewarding and that why we do it,” he added. 

Ross McMillan, owner and mortgage adviser at Blue Fish Mortgage Solutions, said things not going to plan was inevitable in a service-based sector but the key was managing emotions both as an adviser and as a person. 

He added that communication was important as well as prepping for potential hurdles. McMillan suggested brokers define how regularly they would contact a client, avoid using jargon, and be honest about each stage of the process. 

“With current lender service levels and some ‘erratic’ underwriting behaviour, good client communication and engagement is arguably more important than ever. Silence in this context is most definitely not golden,” he added. 


‘You control how you respond’

Lewis Shaw, founder and mortgage expert at Shaw Financial Services, said: “As a broker, you must develop a thick skin because things go wrong during transactions. When you’re in the middle of a transaction, you have to deal with everything from complaints about the speed of solicitors, down valuations, lender’s service levels, and many consumers not understanding the process.  

“The only way to protect your mental health is to take a stoic attitude to everything and remember the mantra: You don’t control what happens; you control how you respond. It doesn’t come naturally and takes practice, but it’s the only way to have a long career in this game without blowing up.” 


‘Our role is to clear the path’

Mark Robinson, managing director at Albion Forest Mortgages, said brokers at his firm “obviously feel bad” for clients when a mortgage or equity release does not go to plan, but the research undertaken before making a recommendation meant this was a rare occurrence. 

He said because of this, the number of mortgages that did not reach completion was “incredibly low” and the ones that failed were usually down to issues with the property. 

Jonathan Burridge, founding adviser at We Are Money, also said it was about making sure the parts of a transaction which are a mortgage broker’s responsibility are in “good working order” as this would mean “any issue that arises is not of your making”.  

He added: “Next, look for hazards that might arise and plan for them. For example, don’t simply accept your client’s assessment of their property value, do some research.  

“Don’t submit an application with information outstanding; that one item will invariably turn out to be the thorn that gets stuck in the heel of the application.  

“Set clear expectations; lenders are now very open with their service standards, explain these to the client – if this is an issue you know at the outset and make alternative plans. If the client is using your recommended solicitor be sure that you are not over-promising on their service standards.” 

Burridge said if an issue did arise which was a broker’s fault, it was down to the broker to own it. 

“Understand the issue and communicate as early as possible. Our role is to clear the path, if we come across a boulder, we shouldn’t wait for it to be moved, we move it or find a way around it.  

“If you do all this well, your client will be grateful for your involvement not resent it,” he added. 

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