However, it is the people that make the industry, and while we share a great business community, it is an ageing one.
So, this week, Mortgage Solutions asks: What can the mortgage industry do to attract new or young talent?
This is definitely a serious problem in the industry, and there needs to be a structural shift.
As an industry, we are very bad at promoting the great work we do and why it’s such a great industry to work in. I ended up in the industry after starting as a cashier at one of the banks, which has worked out great, but I didn’t really know about the industry outside of banking until we started Mesa Financial. The advice I would therefore give to the younger generation that wants to get involved in the industry would be to reach out to any connections they have within the sector and ask them about the route they took.
One of the biggest problems is most businesses are set up for individuals to operate on their own, there is no sense of building a real operational business as many are just a bunch of advisers operating under the same name. This means there is no structure and there are no separately functioning elements, such as marketing departments, sales, finance, operations and HR.
I believe once business structure is set up correctly, you can build a system to bring talent through, similar to international corporate models – essentially bringing talent in at graduate and A level and nurturing them while simultaneously building a more diverse and dynamic business.
As a business, we’re currently building these structures, and also focusing on talent that works outside of the industry.
Although I doubt many people set their heart on becoming a mortgage broker as a child, it’s a lucrative job which can be very rewarding. Improving education around this role may help to increase its attractiveness to graduates and school leavers.
At LDNFinance almost a quarter of our workforce is under 25-years-old. We’ve always been successful at recruiting young talent due to the informal but professional culture we have cultivated. As a business, we have been attractive for young people because we encourage and pay for them to take exams, offer employee perks, and reward them for great work.
For our young talent, we clearly define a training and promotion path so the team have something to work towards. As such, they feel motivated for success and work hard to deliver on expectations. We find that once this progression plan is laid out, the team see the earning potential available to them and work hard to overachieve.
Like most brokers, I fell into the industry by chance myself. I am an economics graduate so have always been good with numbers, but mortgage broking offered me the opportunity to combine my numerical skills with people interaction. Over the years I’ve honed my skills and now, am proud to have founded a brokerage whereby I can lead the business, but also share my skills with my team.
However, I firmly believe that a degree is no longer necessary when we’re recruiting, so long as you work hard to learn your skills and the profession. Our workforce is made up of a mix of graduates and non-graduates, and both learn from one another.
For anyone considering a career in mortgages, we find that directly contacting an employer is a good place to start. Include a cover note explaining why you want to work in the industry and what motivates you. At LDNFinance, we also find it impressive when you’ve conducted some self-study as it shows initiative and commitment.
There are definitely younger people coming through, and there is an interest. I’ve had a lot of young people contact me on LinkedIn in response to a talk I did with a well known mortgage recruiter, for example. That said, I do think it’s an ageing population, so anything that can be done to get young people in the door can only make us better off as an industry.
I’d say it’s a good industry to be in, but we have an image problem that isn’t warranted.
We lose a lot of young people who would come into mortgages to the financial advice sector as it’s seen as a bit more glamorous and lucrative, but I think that’s a misconception. Mortgages generally are great business. It’s transactional, which some like and some don’t, but I’d say that there’s minimal after care compared to financial advice. This means you can do a lot of business and you’re not stuck hand holding people’s portfolios for ages later down the line. Mortgage brokers can therefore earn just as much money as financial advisers now due the market changes over the past few years.
Beginner brokers are starting at around £25,000 plus commission, but it’s a long game and the longer you’re in the business, the more people you know, and the more you make over time. Next thing you know, you’re rolling in it.
To bring in new talent we’ve got a programme where we take on a lot of school leavers and train them up. We’ve got an employee called Craig Ryan, for example, who started in the post room after joining us from school then he went to the rate switch team, which is our proving ground and he did great, and now he’s progressed to be a case handler and in the future he’s got aspirations to become a full broker. We’re very proud of him.
However, it’s going to take him about five years to get there and do it all properly. It’s hard graft and I believe you need a certain amount of experience to be a really good broker, and that takes time and training to make sure you’ve got the ability to understand and confidently handle any of the many things that can go wrong. It’s important because you’re dealing with people’s lives here, and their life savings, so you want to be able to react efficiently when things get dicey. So because Craig’s taken the time to get that grounding, he’s going to have a full knowledge of how everything works the first time he picks up the phone instead of us just throwing him in without a real clue how it all fits together and works.