With networks all putting out their own versions of events, many brokers are in a state of utter confusion. But let's turn this negative into a positive.
Over the past two years we have seen many old timers leave the industry because they either couldn't or wouldn't pass the CeMAP or MAQ exams.
Then there was the uncertainty over the cost of processing mortgages under an FSA-regulated regime along with all its attendant bureaucracy – or red tape as some refer to it. Take out those people who used to play at being part-timers such as solicitors, accountants, and small independent estate agents and you are left with a black hole.
With processing time increased significantly due to additional red tape it means there is already a shortage of qualified mortgage brokers and this situation can only get worse.
So where am I going with all these little apparently random observations, you may wonder.
Well, my message to those confused souls who have perhaps only stumbled into our marketplace in the past couple of years, and to those still thinking of leaving it, is – hang in there. The UK, along with every other civilised country, is suffering from an acute shortage of qualified and skilled people in all professions and trades.
The upshot of this is that those who do have the necessary skills are able to command premium rates of pay. And herein lies the window of opportunity for the person who has the staying power to remain, or become, a fully qualified mortgage adviser.
Let me give you an example to demonstrate the changing nature of the modern skills market.
Three short years ago I had to engage the services of a heating engineer to look at my central heating system. At the same time I engaged the services of a plumber, a decorator and a joiner. At the negotiating stage I told them I wanted a fixed price based on paying them £75 to £100 per day for their labour.
Every single tradesman was grateful for the work and accepted my terms. We were all happy. Three months ago I attempted to repeat the exercise conducted three years ago but had a totally different result. Each tradesman quoted me from £250 to £450 per day and said: “That's the price, take it or leave it, I have so much work I'm not bothered if I get the job.”
It could be argued that, looking at the buoyant housing market and the famous £1 trillion pound consumer debt, and there are more people in the market seeking these services, fuelling more demand than supply. But trust me, that is not the prime reason for these inflated quotes.
Evidence if it is needed comes in the form of a renewed apprenticeship scheme for tradespeople. When the apprenticeship schemes of yesteryear were abolished it left a huge shortage of skills – to the extent that the government has been forced to introduce measures to address the situation.
Many with the foresight to better themselves have grasped this opportunity to attend skills centres nationwide with both hands, safe in the knowledge that they will make a good living once they have gained the required skills.
Here's what I would do if I was an aspiring mortgage adviser: I would not be satisfied with just being qualified in mortgages but would look to become a master of my craft. This would mean studying sales and marketing to a level equal to that of a qualified mortgage broker.
It's no good being a fount of knowledge on mortgages if you don't know how to sell yourself or your products. Some readers will empathise, others will not, but I'm sure there are many brokers (and other professional people) who could make a fortune if only they honed their sales and marketing skills.
Of course, while good sales and marketing skills are mandatory for success, this week's article is about recognising opportunities.
So, to those in my age group (and there can't be that many) and those who have children who are perhaps undecided about which career path to take, you could do a lot worse than steer your offspring towards a job in the mortgage industry.
I'm sure they will thank you in the years to come as a window of opportunity like this does not come along too often. Long live the mortgage adviser.