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One to One with Simplybiz Mortgages’ Phil Daffern

  • 20/03/2024
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One to One with Simplybiz Mortgages’ Phil Daffern
Each month, Mortgage Solutions and Specialist Lending Solutions sit down with a key intermediary industry figure to discuss strategy, opportunity for brokers and the mortgage marketplace.

This month, we are sitting down with Phil Daffern (pictured), head of lender relations at Simplybiz Mortgages.

He has worked at Simplybiz Mortgages since 2021, initially joining as a senior lender account manager before becoming head of lender relations in 2023.

Prior to that, he worked as a national account manager at Mortgage Brain for more than two years, and before that worked at Hinckley and Rugby Building Society between 2005 and 2018, most recently as a business development manager (BDM).


How did you get into the mortgage industry?

Well, when I was growing up my heart was set on being the next David Attenborough, and who knows, there is still time. In all seriousness, like the majority of people that I talk to in the industry, I fell into this world, and what a wonderful world to fall into, which is why I am passionate about working in the mortgages industry and truly welcome new entrants.


You took on the role of head of lender relations last year. What has the past year been like and what have the biggest challenges and opportunities been?

2023 was a challenging year for all of us due to market conditions, and this affected all businesses, not just potentially financially, but also mental health and wellbeing. Challenges have centred around affordability, timescales, products, availability, criteria and general worry and concern in the market.

This general uncertainty and worry does, however, present opportunities for advisers and firms. Advice has never been so important to ensure good outcomes for clients. I would urge advisers to overcommunicate to their clients, and to reassure them about the market and offer support and solutions.


What is the mortgage club landscape like currently? Is there strong competition for DA firms, and how are clubs differentiating themselves?

There is still an active appetite for advisers to become DA and take decisions into their own hands about their business and direction, which is great. There will always be competition from clubs to onboard and keep firms within their club. At Simplybiz Mortgages, we use a combination of service, business development, compliance support, technology, education and panels to differentiate ourselves.


How are DA firms adapting to the volatile mortgage rate environment? What services and support are they asking for?

Firms have done a sterling job of looking after their clients in a very volatile environment for which they should be very proud. When speaking to firms, they have had to adapt to the environment and set and meet client expectations.

I have seen some advice firms really take advantage of technology to assist combined with a thirst to educate themselves on economical areas of the market to provide comfort and security for their clients. Further support generally centres around stability of products and rate from lenders, notification and acceptable timescales to place business, support for fringe cases when needed and higher proc fees for product transfers.


What is the debate around being AR vs DA like at the moment? Do you think firms may switch from one to the other, and why?

As mentioned, there is appetite for advisers to transition into a DA space, and Simplybiz wholeheartedly support with this process for firms and are very successful. The main question is around understanding your business and being super self-honest as to which model suits your business. Having the autonomy to decide direction on all aspects of your business, from compliance, technology and overall business direction, is appealing to firms.


What has the impact of Consumer Duty been on mortgage networks?

As a club, we aren’t directly responsible for the advice, given we are firmly in the support space for Consumer Duty. At Simplybiz Mortgages, we have offered support, guidance, documentation, events, member hubs and tools to get firms ready for Consumer Duty. We need to guard against the market feeling that Consumer Duty is complete and implemented rather than it being an ongoing responsibility for firms that they need to be cognisant of.


Are there any areas of the mortgage market you expect to see growth in?

2024 has started really positively as compared to 2023 and all areas appear to be flourishing. Particular areas to understand and look at opportunities for me are:

  • Buy to let – This has been in the hard box for months, however affordability has become easier, landlords are accepting a new normal for rate and product, and with the market becoming more and more professionalised, advisers should be well-placed to capitalise on these opportunities.
  • Specialist property finance – As advisers are now able to gain a certification in specialist property finance from LIBF in association with FIBA and ASTL, now is a great opportunity to expand knowledge and start to access other avenues of business that specialist property finance can offer.


What is the current headcount for Simplybiz Mortgages at the moment, and are there any teams/areas that it wants to grow in?

In the mortgages team, we have over 15 people, and are always looking at new talent to help the team develop. In the wider group, we will always offer support to firms to help them develop, nurture and grow whilst growing the membership with new DA firms and firms that are wanting to get authorised.


What would you want brokers to know about Simplybiz Mortgages?

In the main, from a market point of view, that currently 2024 is shaping up to be a positive year and long may this continue. From a Simplybiz Mortgages point of view, if advisers are looking for a club to support with business growth, increasing income, saving time and keeping safe by wrapping these key elements with market-leading training, education, support and service, consider Simplybiz Mortgages when looking at your business’ future direction.

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