The rise of the ‘hybrid broker’
Conor Murphy is chief executive of Smartr365
As we begin to navigate Q1 2021, and a third national lockdown, mortgage brokers across the nation are examining working practices to identify how they can maximise productivity, while also remaining conscious of public health concerns.
The optimum answer? To become a ‘hybrid broker’ – adopting the latest mortgage technology to enjoy a blend of office and remote work, allowing you to remain flexible and responsive to ongoing events.
What is a ‘hybrid broker’?
A hybrid broker is digitally-enabled and flexible, combining a mixture of in-person and remote work to suit demand. This establishes a business model that can work equally effectively from any location, which is absolutely crucial for all businesses operating within such economically uncertain times.
Of course, this is all made possible by the use of the latest mortgage technology, which allows professionals to stay connected and productive in spite of lockdown measures.
How hybrid brokers will work in 2021 and beyond
New research from the US commercial property firm Cushman & Wakefield, conducted in collaboration with George Washington University, has revealed that hybrid working is expected to more than double going forward.
This follows the news in August that Schroders had adopted a permanent flexible working policy and the announcement two weeks ago that Standard Chartered had also signed a global deal allowing its staff to work away from central offices for a twelve-month trial period.
In practice, with social distancing regulation permitting, we can expect to see many brokers opting to work part of the week in the office and the remaining part from home or another location, based on the nature of each task.
Training programmes, mentoring schemes and client meetings can all work best in an office environment with face-to-face interaction helping to boost engagement, while many will also enjoy the absence of a commute and find they are most productive working from home for the majority of tasks.
Support for mortgage professionals
Adopting a hybrid working policy could help many firms to retain some of their top talent.
A survey from the Trades Union Congress has revealed that one in six mums were forced to reduce their hours during the first national lockdown in March, following school and childcare closures.
Families headed by lone parents were acutely affected, with many forced to leave work altogether. Smartr365 are proud to have introduced digital ID verification procedures – removing one of the biggest barriers to home working in the industry by making it possible for lenders to verify the identity of a borrower for underwriting and compliance purposes without the need for a face-to-face meeting.
Benefits for businesses
The potential financial benefits for brokerages of adopting a hybrid working structure are notable too. According to data from Savills, London has seen one of the largest rises across Europe in so-called ‘grey space’ – offices that have been left dormant but are not listed on the market either.
Smartr365 technology allows brokers to handle sensitive data confidently from any corner of the world with bank-grade security.
This enables a secure hybrid working structure, which then allows firms to reduce overheads by renting out or selling existing sections of unused office space, helping businesses to stay afloat during this economic downturn.
Many of the largest financial firms have already adopted this approach, with a survey from the Confederation of British Industry and PwC in October revealing that almost three quarters of financial services surveyed (74%) were reviewing their use of office space.
We expect brokers and lenders to follow this trend in H1.
Advantages for individual borrowers
The implementation of a hybrid working policy benefits the individual borrower too, allowing brokers to further personalise the mortgage journey to the client’s specific needs.
A flexible approach that relies on leading Smartr365 technology can allow meetings, identity verification and fact finds to occur at any time of day, either virtually or in-person.
This ensures that every aspect of the mortgage process is highly convenient for the individual borrower and prevents applications from stalling due to social distancing regulations. In a particularly busy period for the property market, efficient time management becomes more crucial than ever.
Therefore, the ‘death of the office’ and the idea that businesses will bounce back to old working practices both look to be myths, with innovative mortgage technology leading the way to a more accessible and cost-effective future of work.
Albert Einstein reportedly once said that “in the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity”, so let’s allow the mortgage industry’s uptake of technology to become a healthy legacy from this period of great turbulence.