But in a calmer market, advisers would have the time to identify business opportunities that deserve the most attention, rather than those demanding it.
So this week, Mortgage Solutions is asking: Have you decided what area of business you want to focus on or diversify into once the market settles?
Akhil Mair, managing director of Our Mortgage Broker
To be honest with you, we focus on all sorts anyway so I’m not sure the pandemic has changed very much of that.
We are not really going to change our focus as it remains on all parts of mortgage finance.
But what we might want to do is spend more time asking clients questions about life insurance.
Some of our furloughed clients did not have relevant income protection or other applicable insurances that would have helped to save them from repossessions and displacement.
So that’s one area that would make sense to look into further – the different kinds of insurance available to our clients.
With regards to mortgages, we may want to do more bridging finance. There will be weird and wonderful properties coming up and onto the market via repossessions or people who just want to sell off their portfolios quickly.
So we will focus on bridging as a product area alongside enhancing our time and effort spent advising on insurance.
Martin Wade, director of Access Equity Release
As a company that took pride in its face-to-face delivery of advice, we have had to learn new skills and embrace new technology and we very much believe that this is here to stay.
We are of course looking forward to the ability to see all clients in person, but we understand there will be people who no longer want this and where for all sorts of reasons it just isn’t possible.
The diversification we seek is on mastering different delivery methods for advice. Phone and Zoom are a given but the process of advising this way necessitates a change in delivery and approach.
Equity release is by its very nature a fully advised process and one which, whilst not irreversible, should always be viewed as a lifetime event.
Vulnerability presents itself in many ways, not just physical or mental, but also through outside influences and perhaps the lack of ability by some to comprehend planning. This might feasibly embrace a period of 25 years or longer.
Sat face–to–face with a client, it is easier to spot concerns or hesitations. Some of these nuances are less readily spotted over Zoom and even harder to see over the phone.
We are therefore building skills in our advisers and enhancing our advice process which embraces all of the core values of the Equity Release Council’s adviser checklist and Statement of Principles and develops the ability to communicate clearly and concisely without always having the benefit of physical appointments.
Jonathan Clark, partner and mortgage and protection planner at Chadney Bulgin
Like most brokers, Chadney Bulgin’s 2020 meant an almost overnight switch from ‘famine to feast’ which while welcome, proved challenging.
As is often the case, the sudden surge in mortgage applications meant that some of our busier advisers ‘dropped the ball’ on protection, end of rate reviews and ancillary products such as general insurance.
As a well-established firm with 28 years’ worth of clients, it’s more important than ever that these clients are serviced properly which means a thorough assessment of their potential protection needs at the outset, a timely reminder and review of their options as their rate expiry approaches and offering them appropriate add-ons such as general insurance.
Losing this business to a competitor is inexcusable, especially as we’ve started to see lenders be a bit more proactive in retaining customers at rate end, sometimes taking the business from right under the nose of the busy broker.
In terms of new areas of business, we have noticed a steady increase in the maturity of existing interest-only mortgages where an insufficient repayment strategy is in place.
This presents more complex advice needs such as considering retirement interest-only or even equity release mortgage products, but only after other options such as downsizing have also been explored.
All our advisers carry the qualifications necessary to advise on this area, but specialist training is essential to maintain up to date knowledge of products and criteria.
Not to mention the complexities and sensitivities that such cases can present – we all know the Financial Conduct Authority’s view on advisers that ‘dabble’ in this market.