We aim to amplify the voices of all intermediaries, up and down the country. This month we profile Gary Das, founder of Active Mortgage
Please sum up your firm in a few sentences
Active Mortgage is a brokerage based in Essex specialising in helping self-employed and business owners buy and invest in property.
We understand the challenges of entrepreneurship and our goal is to provide a seamless, stress-free service arranging mortgages or finance without our clients becoming distracted from their own business. We now offer Active Mortgage franchises to self-employed advisers.
What led you to become a broker?
I have always loved sales and helping people, and joined the Woolwich in 2003, attracted both by the security of a ‘banking job’ and the financial rewards. They must have seen something in me because they fast-tracked me through CeMAP, so I got into broking by accident really.
I have always been quite entrepreneurial and in 2006 I set up my own firm, before becoming directly authorised by the FCA two years later. I still have the same passion for helping customers and solving their problems, but I now do it on a much larger scale, focusing on coaching and mentoring advisers. I am also a firm believer in protection.
What one thing could lenders do to improve brokers’ lives the most?
There are almost too many to name. Lenders need to provide more user-friendly systems; stop stealing our clients at the end of ERCs; publish all criteria in a broker-only accessible site; answer the phone within five minutes and not place us on hold for five to 10 minutes and increase proc fees on five-year fixed-rate mortgages, to name a few. If I had to choose one thing it would be to provide better BDMs, who know every element of that lender’s criteria and have people answering the phone who know lending criteria when it comes to the self-employed market. We can easily find ourselves talking to five different people from the same lender but end up with five different answers. That is not good enough.
It was because of these kinds of issues I wanted to connect with like-minded advisers, so in June 2018 I founded the Mortgage Pro Group on Facebook. I threw this question out to my 500-plus members. The responses were numerous and show how much lenders need to change. The most popular answer, like mine, was to provide more knowledgeable BDMs who have some power in decision-making, know their lender’s criteria and who work after 5pm.
What plans do you have for the future of your firm?
We are continuing to grow our self-employed adviser division by recruiting advisers all over the UK who want to work for a marketing-led brokerage that focuses on doing things differently. Our goal is to make it easy for business owners, entrepreneurs and property investors to buy property – and we want to partner with anyone who shares the same ethos and values. It is our mission to have an adviser based in every postcode of the UK.
What are the biggest issues facing you as a broker?
The biggest issue is changing the self-employed mindset from “I cannot get a mortgage” to “I CAN get a mortgage if I prepare”. I truly believe anyone can get a mortgage with the right mindset, planning and goal-setting, even though the days of the self-certified mortgage are over.
Self-employed business owners need to realise that if they are in business they want to create a life for them, their family and potentially leave a legacy, so why play small, why play average? Go for the dream, get on the ladder, move to your family home, buy your business premises and start to invest.
This will not only help the self-employed person’s life, it will change the economy. I know many self-employed people who worry about tax bills, but this is a fixed mindset.
Generally, with the right tax planning and working with the right accountant you can be tax-efficient. And if you have a growth mindset you will understand that a bigger tax bill is a good thing: it means a bigger business, a bigger income and a better lifestyle.