We aim to amplify the voices of all intermediates, up and down the country. This month we profile Colin Baxter, director at Mortgages in Lincoln
Sum up your firm in a few sentences
Mortgages in Lincoln Ltd specialises in fully protected residential mortgages, with 50 per cent of our business coming from first-time buyer mortgages.
For us, this has proved to be a really successful strategy, because we have a constant stream of client referrals and we also benefit from returning clients as they remortgage or move home – and although this may not be true everywhere in our part of the world, here there is a real appetite for home ownership.
We shepherd our clients through the house buying process and endeavour to make it as stress-free as possible for them.
What led you to become a broker?
I joined the industry in 1994 as a financial consultant with Prudential, where I gained financial service experience as well as my qualifications. This was a marvellous introduction to the industry. However, in 2000 it became apparent that the life of the direct sales arm with the Prudential was limited, so I moved to a company in Nottingham, where I worked as an IFA for 12 months.
It appeared to me then that the financial services industry was changing and that specialisation was the way forward.
I have always loved helping clients and I have always believed strongly in the value of protection, so mortgages seemed to be the logical direction in which to take my career.
In 2001, I opened my first mortgage brokerage in Lincoln, and by 2008 it had grown to three branches and 20 staff.
However, we were then badly affected by the credit crunch and in 2011, with my fellow director Julie Ashley, we set up Mortgages in Lincoln Ltd.
What are the biggest issues facing you as a broker?
The first of the two biggest risks that I believe we currently face is the regulatory urge to constantly ‘tinker’ with the market, based on media input rather than focused, in-depth research.
The recent consultation paper from the FCA is a good example of this. Its focus on clients getting the lowest rate ignored the fact that a large percentage of mortgage recommendations are affected by client circumstances and lender criteria, rather than by simply being the cheapest. The second risk is the change in the house selling market caused by the online and hybrid estate agents. These are disrupting what was a fairly settled market, which can only be a good thing, but force traditional estate agents to shift focus towards financial services as they lose income from house sales to this new competition.
What one think could lenders do to improve brokers’ lives the most?
We have a very high conversion rate of mortgage applications to completed mortgages, and one of the reasons for this is that we always discuss any issues with lenders before submission. The most helpful thing to us is therefore a lender that has knowledgeable pre-sales staff and offers direct underwriter access post-sale.
What plans do you have for the future of your firm?
We are firm believers in the future of face-to-face advice and customer service. We have two advisers and four administrators, one of whom is being trained to be an adviser. This will enable us to continue to service our growing and loyal client bank.