More than eight in ten specialist lending intermediaries feel confident about their company’s prospects over the next year, according to the Broker Beat survey released by Masthaven Bank.
The research revealed that intermediaries are optimistic that their investments will yield positive results, with 43% expecting turnover to rise by more than 10%.
Nearly a quarter of respondents believe later-life lending is seeing the most growth, followed by short-term finance (18%) and remortgaging (14%).
Around 61% of those surveyed confirmed the main reason for customers approaching them for advice was because they have specialist lending needs – often which cannot be met by the traditional high street banks.
Customer service is also an important reason borrowers seek specialist advice (17%), as is flexible lending criteria (22%) and low rates (35%).
However, over a third stated lending criteria was the biggest barrier to achieving this increase in demand for specialist products, followed by regulatory requirements (27%) and lack of product innovation (18%).
The impact of recent regulatory changes such as GDPR looks to have influenced firms’ attitude to technology-related risks such as cyber-attacks and data breaches, with over half of respondents (53%) citing it as a board-level priority.
Increase employee investment
While technology remains an important investment priority, customers continue to value face-to-face interaction with professionals.
Over two thirds said they would increase investment in their employees as businesses look to retain the best talent, with a further 56% of respondents expecting headcount to increase within their organisation over the coming year.
Around 41% of those surveyed also intend to increase their marketing investment in the coming twelve months to attract new business and talent alike.
Referrals were seen as the top method for additional sales with over half of respondents (56%) predicting the majority of growth over the coming year would be generated in this way.
Nearly half (47%) of respondents said they would love to win even more specialist finance business over the next twelve months, as intermediaries work together to maintain the buoyant market.
Diversification of products to maintaining a growing customer need
Jon Hall, managing director at Masthaven (pictured), said intermediaries in the market are experiencing an influx of clients who need access to more accessible and affordable products.
He added: “Diversification of products is key to maintaining a growing customer need for flexibility. There is clearly both demand and gaps in the market for later-life lending, innovative solutions and more flexible lending criteria to meet customers’ needs.
“Masthaven will respond by prioritising this in our plans and focusing on giving great customer service, given the clear message from brokers. Referrals will also play a key part in navigating this expanding market.
“What this shows is that the human element is still very much alive, well and indeed vital in the mortgage market and will continue to play a key role in making this sector succeed.
“While we have embraced a number of regulatory changes already this year and as we gear up for what Brexit might mean to the sector, the specialist lending market continues to be as strong as ever.”