Broker Focus aims to amplify the voices of intermediaries up and down the country.
This month it’s the turn of Kingsgate Financial Services proprietor Sav Agathangelou.
Sum up your firm in three sentences.
Kingsgate Financial Services launched in 2002, originally trading under the name of Fig Tree Finance, offering whole-of-market, independent, mortgage, general insurance and protection advice.
The focus has always been on building personal relationships with clients in the belief that service is sacred. Most of the business carried out is face to face and, although our client bank is predominantly based in London, we arrange mortgages all over the UK and as far away as Australia.
What led you to become a broker?
I joined the industry as a way of avoiding a beating from my dad for quitting college in early 2001! At the time I was studying with the intention of getting my A-Levels to do a degree in Coaching Science at Liverpool John Moores University. I wanted to be a football coach and am a season-ticket holder at Anfield.
But I dropped out halfway through and thought I was being clever by telling my dad I’d help him out while working towards getting my coaching badges with the FA. Within a year of that bright idea I’d got my CeMAP and set up my own firm.
Even at that stage I wasn’t looking at this as a life-long career but, as I got to know clients better, I found I enjoyed the constant interaction and satisfaction of playing my part helping people turn their dreams into reality.
What are the biggest issues facing you?
Regular changes in regulation, particularly the recent attack on buy-to-let, do not make anyone’s life easier.
While I appreciate these things are there to protect consumers and ensure we carry out our roles to the highest possible standard, there comes a point where you have too much too soon and a degree of information overload that just adds confusion.
Possibly the biggest threat we face in the near future is from the new wave of digital brokers. These guys will be incredibly popular with the next generation of homebuyers, who are far more comfortable relying on technology and trusting it to make their lives easier. As a traditional, face-to-face adviser, we will need a degree of digitisation to survive. Whether we like it or not the digital revolution is here and, if we don’t adapt, we risk being left behind.
Which one thing could lenders do to most improve brokers’ lives?
Consistency in underwriting should go without saying but isn’t always a given.
I recently sent three BTL remortgage applications for the same client to the same lender, all with near-identical property values, rents and loan sizes. At AIP stage, two of these were picked up by one underwriter who agreed the cases at 80 per cent LTV, while the other was handled by a different underwriter who would accept it only at 75 per cent LTV.
No one wants a rigid, black-and-white way of underwriting applications but, where all things are equal, there shouldn’t be such varied outcomes.
What plans do you have for the future of your firm?
I’m currently exploring ways to move the firm into the digital world while not compromising the high level of service and personal attention given to our clients.
The intention is to find a way of making the process of obtaining a mortgage easier for those who prefer to use technology while maintaining the personal touch that sets us apart. The first step is a revamp of our website so that it’s not merely an online presence but a platform for client interaction and a gateway for their digital input into the process.
Once that’s been implemented, a strong social media presence will be needed to help maximise its productivity and get the company name out to the vast number of potential new clients to be found online.
If you would like your firm to be featured in Broker Focus, please email Mortgage Strategy deputy editor Sam Barker at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7970 4425.