The market is tough, it has been tough for some years now and while we all had expectations that, after four years, 2011 would be the turning point, these expectations have been firmly dashed.
Business opportunities have declined, as have broker numbers, leaving only the very best advisers and the very weakest, those unable to turn their hand to anything else, left in the market.
Those of us that continue to trade successfully over the next 12 months will be well positioned to reap the rewards when the market turns, s it most certainly will.
In order to maintain our position, we need to accept change and these changes in our market dictate that we all need continuous training.
I am sure we all agree that our industry could go a lot further in raising professional standards.
Relevant regulation and an increase in examinations have gone a long way to remove the chaff but we all need to take responsibility for a wider development of our skills. Everything from basic rapport-building skills through to post-sale customer service contributes to the way our industry is seen and viewed by others, namely, our customers.
Basic fact-finding is the single most important skill we as professional advisers can possess and as we are in the era of a customer for life, we need to go beyond simply establishing what length of fix our clients require.
We believe a good fact-find can never be completed in less than two hours. Fact-finds need to be holistic and, as advisers, it is our job to ensure we do not take short cuts. Every client has differing levels of understanding and every client has different needs. Quite often, they are in a difficult situation now because of poor decisions they have made in the past. Understanding why those previous decisions have been made, such as leaving a family’s main income-earner unprotected is key to helping our clients make better decisions.
Fact-finding is not a box-ticking exercise, it is very much an art, not a science, and it is a skill that should be continually polished. Our peers are a great source of knowledge and role playing or dissecting previous cases can prove very valuable in building skills. There is, after all, more than one way to skin a cat.
In short, we see a direct correlation to the levels of business written and the amount of time an adviser spends in the classroom. We all need to be reminded of the basics and we all forget things which we used to do in the past which previously brought us success. This is why, last month, our advisers attended on average 1.66 days of training each.
Change rules our destiny and training ensures we remain equipped to succeed. This is no flash in the pan, soft skills training remains a constant theme with us and we know that continuous training breeds success.
Martin Wade is director of Your Mortgage Decisions