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Broker Focus: Chris Barker, co-owner/director, Manchester Money

This month we profile the co-owner and director of Manchester Money

Sum up your firm in a few sentences

We are a firm that will put the consumer at the forefront of everything we do.

This may sound like a bit of a cliché, but the number of firms who say this and don’t follow the strapline is staggering. We aim to deliver on this promise.

And we are also aiming to be the number one financial services brokerage in Manchester.

What led you to become a broker?

I had toyed with the idea in my early twenties and attempted to start my CEMAP training in 2007. I worked in retail, though, which meant long hours and weekend work, so finding the time was near impossible.

Fortunately, though, I was made redundant in February 2010, which gave me the kick I needed to make my way into financial services. I knew this would be a very important time (career-wise) to make my next decision on how I would go about it.

Brokers need to embrace social media platforms to be able to reach out to their clients and use tech tools to make the transaction easier

I eventually secured a role at Countrywide. Although I found the culture very difficult, I persevered as I knew what the end goal would be. My gut feeling told me to ride it out.

I think one of my starting points was that I had used a broker to buy my first house and the experience from him wasn’t great. I thought if there were guys like him in the industry, there would be room to do much better, and I should be able to carve out a decent career.

What are the biggest issues facing you as a broker?

There are several but the two major issues I would say are complacency and technology/robo-advice.

I’ve come across many brokers who, when busy, will neglect their client bank. This is insane; those clients they are neglecting are the people who helped get them where they are.

In addition, I believe you have a duty of care to those clients to make sure they never pay more for their mortgage than they should. In a nutshell, this is basic customer service.

In relation to technology, I believe there will always be a need for clients to engage with advisers, but how this is done in the future will no doubt change.

Brokers need to embrace social media platforms to be able to reach out to their clients and use whatever technological tools are available to make the transaction easier for the client journey.

What one thing could lenders do to help brokers and make their lives easier?

I’m a massive advocate of advisers being directly authorised. Unfortunately, though, the distribution can be a bit unfair for such brokers.

There are certain lenders that cannot be accessed if you are directly authorised, plus exclusive deals that are only available through certain clubs, etcetera.

I believe there will always be a need for clients to engage with advisers, but how this is done in the future will no doubt change

I believe it would be better if there were a level playing field for all. This would make sure the consumer always gets the best outcome.

The consumer should never be disadvantaged because of how the industry has set itself up.

What plans do you have for the future of your firm?

To be the number one financial services arm in Manchester, coupled with making the wider Money Group of companies a recognised brand across the UK.

If you would like your firm to be featured in Broker Focus, please email Mortgage Strategy editor Rebekah Commane at rebekah.commane@centaurmedia.com

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