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Go with the flow

Lenders must ensure a steady flow of new blood to aid clients and brokers.

Much has been made recently of rumours that the mortgage industry is facing a recruitment dry spell. On both the broker and lender side, not enough people are coming into the industry at the ground level and the experienced “warhorses” of the industry are slowly moving on to pastures new. In football, a good manager must develop a balance between having old experienced heads to guide the team, new fresh players bought into the club to add a missing dimension to the team and trainees and youngsters willing to learn the ropes and be trained so that the team will remain strong for years to come.

The same can be said for any industry but the mortgage industry at the moment seems to be facing a shortage in the number of people wanting to enter it, making future staff shortages a very serious concern for many mortgage brokers and lenders.In the intermediary market, we are seeing a pattern developing where companies both old and new are finding it difficult to grow as their distribution capacity becomes stifled by the lack of new blood available to them.
The average age of a broker is such that in about 10 to 15 years, a large part of the industry will be facing retirement and a distribution gap is sure to open up.

The time and investment required to get young trainees up to speed is so great now that many brokerages cannot afford it and instead we continue to see a rotation of advisers moving from one intermediary firm to another.

This will exaggerate the problem for the consumer who continues to turn to intermediaries to gain a better understanding of an ever growing and complex marketplace, where financial planning should be the cornerstone of consumer decision-making.

On the lender side, part of the problem is being resolved by a growth in technology which is helping to streamline the mortgage application process such as automated valuations, decisions in principle and online applications.

However, having a very efficient mortgage sourcing and decision process can only go so far in streamlining and speeding up mortgage application times. The heart and soul of the operation will always remain the trained and experienced staff that can guide borrowers and brokers through the more difficult and unique case decision-making.For intermediaries, this is particularly necessary as they have to conduct a wider search to find the right mortgage for their client.

No intermediary when sourcing a mortgage product for their client likes to be told that a lender is too busy and that they will have their enquiry dealt with as and when it can be or that they are speaking to some-one who cannot advise the broker because they are not adequately trained.

If we as a lender cannot deliver because of staff shortage, we are making both our broker clients and ourselves look inept and unprofessional. Time for a broker is of the essence and going to a lender that has trained staff ready to help is vital to maint-aining business, not to mention important to the success of winning new business.The challenge for any lender at the moment when dealing with brokers is to supply not only quantity but also quality.

Subsequently, the goal as a lender is to ensure that regardless of the skills shortages being seen across the intermediary mortgage channel, lenders must ensure a steady supply of new blood coming into the industry so that, at least from our side, service to our clients continues to improve and that we provide the support that allows brokers to weather the possibility of any skills shortage that at this stage looks likely to continue to grow within the marketplace.

Ricky Okey is managing director of Abbey for Intermediaries.

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