Mortgage Advice Bureau chief executive Peter Brodnicki says the launch of a wealth management division is part of his grand plans to grow the business in the aftermath of the credit crisis.
MAB has recently been granted FSA authorisation to offer a wealth management service, which includes investment portfolio advice and pension reviews. The division went live last week and Brodnicki is training staff in prepar-ation for the launch date which he expects to be next month.
He says: “We needed to complete the link in the client servicing chain. We are very good at mortgages and protection and we have now gone into wealth. We thought it was important to try and offer a full service to our clients.”
Brodnicki believes MAB, which is both a mortgage network and a broker, has already made appropriate changes to ensure a smooth transition towards the new regulatory landscape expected with the mortgage market review.
“We do not have to spend any more. We are not worried about the MMR as we are already running that sort of model and we will not have to increase costs to improve standards.”
He believes many rivals have a great deal more reinventing to do. “Each network is in a slightly different starting position. Some will have to make fewer changes than others and some will be in a better financial position to make changes than others.”
Having an ambition to break into finance, Brodnicki secured his first job in the finance department of Richmond Borough Council before entering second-charge lending with Cedar Holdings. This was followed by a stint at John Charcol as a mortgage writer before moving into sales in 1990 as an estate agency-based sales adviser with Albany Life.
He spent the next five years with Albany Life, eventually becoming regional sales director, before moving to Legal & General as head of its estate agency network.
Brodnicki says he learnt to exploit the potential of estate agencies during his time with L&G, which is something he has carried with him to MAB.
“I think what happened is a lot of people have used estate agents as introducers for quite some time. Estate agencies always had the word ’potential’ attached to them but no one ever did huge amounts of business from it. L&G was trying to develop a proposition, with our experience in the sector, which would make estate agency and financial services a bit more of an exact science. Whatever it was – marketing, lead gener-ation, training – I was working with L&G to become real experts in it.”
When the housing market crashed in the early 1990s and endowments were no longer commonplace, the big life companies started to leave the sector. Brodnicki saw this as his chance to take on the mantle. “They all started to pull out, so we decided to take that space and build up a proposition that replaced what they used to do and do probably a bit more than they used to do. We are without question the biggest, most successful independent broker and estate agency in financial services. However, we still deal with a lot of businesses that are not estate agencies. We are experts in it but we are not limited to it.”
He says mortgage brokers have not changed enough to adapt to conditions over the past few years but he insists this is mainly down to a lack of support from networks.
“Some of the corporates, like Countrywide and Connells, invest very strongly in their people but that is not what networks do. Networks are about businesses being completely independent and just plugging into a live structure of compliance, products and touch support. There is very little support in a business-strategic sense or resource-wise that a lot of other businesses require.”
Brodnicki says MAB aims to give its brokers the level of support they need and, because it is also a broker itself, knows what its members need.
“The culture in the industry is not there as much as it used to be, so what we are trying to do is work on that and add value to the customer. We were looking first and foremost as a broker. That is the difference. For us to add value to our network members, we have to be able to do it first as a broker ourselves,” he says.
He believes MAB is not even halfway to where he envisages the network will be in 10 years time.
“The key thing is we are very changefocused and constantly trying to improve. There is still so much more we can do and do things better. We have made some decent progress over the last couple of years and I want to consolidate some of that. We are probably only 30-40 per cent of the way to where we think the business needs to be for the next 10 years. We are staying focused.
“We are not concerned about the market because there is nothing we can do about that. All we are concerned about now is efficiency and how we can build a model that can attract and retain the best brokers and businesses and can compete strongly over the next 10 years.”
Born: Fulham, 1962
Lives: Esher, Surrey
Education: Ewell Castle School, Kingston College
Career: (2000-present) chief executive, Mortgage Advice Bureau; (1995-2000) head of estate agency network, business recruitment director, Legal & General; (1990-95) adviser, Albany Life; (1988-90); underwriter, John Charcol; (1983-88) adviser, Cedar Holdings; (1980-83) accounts department, Richmond Borough Council
Likes: Fulham FC
Dislikes: Chelsea FC
Car: E-class Mercedes coupe sport 350 CGI
Favourite book: Harry Potter
Favourite film: 300
Favourite musician or album: Any classic pop or party music
Career ambition: Owning and running a company like MAB even in this economic climate
Life ambition: Find somebody I want to spend the rest of my life with (which I managed to do last year at long last!)
If I wasn’t doing I’d…Be chairman of Fulham FC