We should be confident despite the uncertainties

Bob Hunt

November 14, 2018

Bob Hunt is chief executive of Paradigm Mortgage Services

Working out where you might wish to take your business is not easy – we are constantly bombarded with information that needs to be weighed up against plenty of other factors, not least what you want as a business owner.

On top of this we have to think of where the market is heading, what technology is doing and how it is changing the way clients engage with their advisers, plus of course customer wants and needs, and how lenders react in terms of product availability, criteria and pricing. There is much to consider and, let’s be honest, you will probably never be 100% sure that the decisions you take, or indeed intend to take, are the right ones.

That, of course, doesn’t stop us as an industry from looking ahead – indeed, it tends to be at such junctures, as we get closer to year-end, that we begin to think even more about the future and its potential impact.

I’ll try not to mention the ‘Brexit’ word too much but you wouldn’t be human if you weren’t considering how this monumental change will come out in the wash and its impact on both you personally, your work and what it will mean for clients.

Perhaps the obvious thing to do here is look at matters in a more ‘micro’ way – especially as the big ‘macro’ decisions, twists and turns are out of our control anyway. In that sense, it was interesting to hear the views of AMI’s Robert Sinclair at the recent FSE Midlands exhibition up in Coventry, especially when it comes to the product sectors he believes intermediaries will be dominant in, and how they can make the most of those.

Robert was talking about the role of the adviser and how – away from the more vanilla, mainstream mortgage customers, which are likely to be increasingly catered for by ‘robo advice’ options focused on areas such as product transfers – he sees advisers becoming much more ‘specialist’ in their nature and moving into sectors such as later life lending whose customer base is much more likely to need advice.

Much of this is tied up with technology of course, and we should not forget there is a broadening definition of what might be deemed ‘specialist’. For example, might we say that high LTV lending is in this bracket, along with shared ownership, family-assisted mortgages, buy-to-let, RIOs, equity release, mortgages for the self-employed/contractors/freelancers? The list goes on.

What we can say is that the complexities of people’s incomes and situations has gone up a level in the past few years and we appear to be moving away from a situation where ‘vanilla’ is the norm anyway, and where ‘advice’ is most certainly essential.

That can only strengthen the position of mortgage advisers, and of course, even in areas like product transfers – which a few years ago you might have thought would be dominated by the lenders – the latest statistics show a majority of that business comes through the intermediary channel.

So, even if you might think that a certain type of business is less likely to be adviser written (which, for the record I firmly believe is not the case), then we may have to challenge the norms and our own thinking about the scale and range of business areas that advisers will dominant in.

All in all, it presents a very positive picture for advisers because, let’s be honest, given the way work is changing, the growth in established companies, the rise of the ‘gig’ economy, the increase in government support and intervention, and so many other changing demographics, the need for ‘specialist’ advice has never been greater.

And, even if you might be one of those borrowers suited to a ‘robo solution’ (i.e. robo assisted – as opposed to ‘robo advice’), there is still that great leveller – the fact consumers want and need to speak to a professional who can provide the reassurance that they’re doing the right thing and they have the most suitable product.

Even with all the uncertainty on the horizon, I’m very confident about the role of the mortgage adviser and their ability to thrive in any future economy.

We should take that confidence and ensure that our firms are in the best situation possible in order to deliver on the needs of our client base – especially at a time when their confidence may not be as strong.

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