Broker Focus is a new weekly Mortgage Strategy article that aims to amplify the voices of intermediaries up and down the country.
Profiling a different mortgage broker every week, the column will ask a mix of light-hearted and professional questions about the individual, their firm and their take on the mortgage market.
Last week was Guardian Advice managing director Thomas Webster, and this week it’s the turn of Finance Advice Group managing director Matthew Cassar.
Tell me about your firm in three sentences.
Finance Advice Group was set up as a mortgage, loan and insurance network in 2014 with a couple of big differences over the other networks that are out there at the moment.
We are passionate about putting our advisors, clients and introducers at the heart of every decision that we make.
There are a number of networks out there that provide excellent compliance support, but the thing that separates us from the others is that we are committed to providing an uncapped access to leads to the advisors that join us so they can concentrate on doing what they do best, which is giving clients advice.
What is your headcount?
We have doubled in size in each of the last two years and currently have 50 advisors working with us.
Where are you based?
Our head office is based at our Finance Advice Centre operation in Derby but we have advisors based all over the UK as part of the wider Finance Advice Group network.
What led you to become a mortgage broker?
I fell into becoming a mortgage broker by accident really. I was a professional cricketer by trade and represented Derbyshire and Northamptonshire in the late 90’s/early 2000’s. Being a cricketer was the only thing I ever wanted to do ever since I was a young boy growing up in Sydney, Australia.
Unfortunately, I was fairly injury-prone and when my career ended suddenly through two unsuccessful operations, I really wasn’t sure what to do.
One of my former teammates at the time was studying for his CeMAP qualification, said he was enjoying it and recommended I took a look at doing it also, which I did.
I always enjoyed working with numbers at school and was doing some buying, renovating and selling of properties at the time so I’d been through the mortgage process several times and found it interesting, so I guess there was a bit of a natural fit.
What are the best parts of your job?
Meeting new people and problem solving. As we grow as a business there are new challenges being thrown at me every day, which I’m really enjoying.
What are your plans for your firm’s future?
We’ve doubled in size in each of our first two years and we want to continue to double in size in each of the next three years also. This will put us at around 400 to 500 advisors by the end of 2020, which we’d be really happy with.
What annoys you about the mortgage market?
People who over-promise and under-deliver. We hear it all the time when customers come to us and say they’ve started the house buying process with another company and the advisor never got back to them. This doesn’t make any sense to me.
We have an ethos in treating other people how we’d like to be treated ourselves and therefore if you say you’re going to contact someone at a certain time, you do your utmost to do it.
And what is the best thing about it?
I think the friendships and experiences that you share with people along the way are priceless. You spend most of your life working so you have to enjoy it.
At Finance Advice Group we try to instil the importance of really enjoying what you do and having a sense of fun with maintaining professional standards and service levels.
What one thing would improve brokers’ working lives the most?
Technology is improving all the time but sourcing systems still need to improve further.
Being able to research all of the different products at a touch of a button would be great and save the advisors a huge amount of time.
What is the best day you’ve ever had, and why?
In no particular order, getting married, the birth of my two children and playing in a domestic one day final at Lord’s cricket ground.
Which person, alive or dead, would you most like to have a drink with?
Which teams do you support, and why?
Derby County in the Championship, because it’s where I live.
Finally, what do you most like to read in Mortgage Strategy?
It’s always interesting to read what others are doing in the industry and Mortgage Strategy provides a great mixture of expert opinions and insight into the latest news and views.
If you would like to be featured in Broker Focus, please email Mortgage Strategy deputy editor Sam Barker at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02079704425.