There is currently a great deal of focus on the mortgage market and quite rightly so.
The mortgage market review is only months away and this raises the question of what will the landscape look like for the mortgage market post April 2014? Will the MMR result in fewer products as lenders look to simplify their product ranges? Will the removal of the non-advised channel have an impact on intermediary business? Will the consumer be better protected? There are many other unknowns.
Rather than spending time trying to predict the future, why not spend some time looking at an area of the mortgage market where there is some certainty and clarity – the customer need for protection.
Providing the customer with the actual mortgage is only the first stage in the mortgage process. Brokers have a duty of care to make sure they talk with their customer about financial protection. It is their responsibility to make sure their customer has adequate protection cover in place, both family and business protection, should the unexpected happen.
Customer lifestyles and needs are always changing. Is it worth spending some time reviewing your customer base? How many of your customers’ circumstances have changed? Have any of your customers recently got married or perhaps divorced? Have their family circumstances changed? Do they have more or less family commitments? Do your customers’ children have protection needs?
However extensively or thoroughly the above questions are explored, it is important for those offering protection advice to gain the trust and confidence of their customers through their professionalism.
For us, professionalism consists of three elements: knowledge, ongoing learning and ethical conduct. Knowledge is best demonstrated through exams, and if you are looking to build your knowledge of financial protection, or perhaps refresh your long experience, there are several courses available.
Passing an exam is one thing; keeping that knowledge updated to reflect market changes is quite another. Sadly, there is currently no requirement under the MMR to do this. Our customers know that ongoing learning is the mark of the true professional but that positive image is currently only enjoyed by members of the Society of Mortgage Professionals, which has long required continuing professional development as a basic membership requirement. For the public’s sake if nothing else, this should be the case for all mortgage professionals.
Just as important to public confidence, but often overlooked, is ethical conduct. Advisers are regulated by the FCA which includes the mortgage conduct of business rules and various principles, but in a nutshell, what should good behaviour look like? Members of the Society of Mortgage Professionals can also demonstrate that they abide by a code of ethics that underpins their day-to-day behaviour.
Lorraine Cox is corporate development manager at the Society of Mortgage Professionals