Mark Clinton, director at BDS Secured

Mark Clinton, director at BDS Secured

As a rule of thumb perceptions are easy to form but much harder to break. I’m quite prepared to take a bit of flak now but I’m going to illustrate this by comparing the secured loans market with the life and times of Jordan – the glamour model not the country might I add.

It is fair to say that the secured loans market continues to have its skeptics and is still perceived in some quarters as being at the ‘dirty’ end of the market. This was most definitely how it was perceived towards the turn of the new Millennium which, coincidentally, was around the same time that Jordan became a real celebrity figure.

Both were initially viewed as brash, in your face, and again somewhat dirty in their image and their perception. As they began to grow in prominence, in Jordan’s case a double fronted growth, so too did the media coverage surrounding them and the criticism over their attitudes and how they went about their business. At the height of this fame and notoriety both fractions were generating a huge amount of funds through, in some quarters, blatant disregard for authority and general controversy over their appeal and offerings.

However as the secured loans sector and Jordan began to mature they are both trying to move away from these earlier perceptions by straightening up their image and taking a step back from the aggressive techniques used to market themselves and generate business by ultimately attempting to cleanse this old image by refining themselves into the image of a slick, professional business machine.

In both cases they may be the odd slip back to the old ways but generally speaking this mentality has meant that they are being viewed in a much more professional and acceptable manner.

Jordan now is a best selling author, has a range of lingerie, perfume and is a mainstream TV presenter. She has recently had her two main assets reduced to reflect her move into the realms of respectability and this is reflected by an increasing acknowledgement of the business acumen that has led her to become, allegedly, one of the richest women in Britain.

The problem is will she ever really cast aside the image of her simply being a publicity seeking bimbo who would flash her ample charms at any opportunity? I don’t know the answer and I’m not sure she even really wants to totally but I believe she is a acquiring, maybe begrudgingly, a greater degree of respect for her mental rather than physical prowess.

Of course this is a tongue in cheek correlation and as someone very passionate about the secured loans market I am doing it a bit of an injustice

by making this direct comparison but it is just to illustrate how hard we, as an industry have to work to try and shed some of these misconceptions.

It is difficult to change people’s perceptions and by this I’m not just talking about consumers. I’m talking about experienced, highly knowledgeable, professional sales people whose main function is to build and retain a strong relationship with their client base by being in a position to offer them the best advice across the widest range of service areas possible.

It’s hard to believe but there are still some brokers out there who are ignorant to the benefits of the secured loans market and they are still ignorant to the strengths of master brokers and secured loan packagers.

But is it their fault entirely? The answer is no, not really. It remains up to the secured loans sector to try and educate mortgage brokers about these benefits. This is also a two way street though and brokers must familiarise themselves with the secured loan process to increase confidence in the sector and this also helps with spotting a secured loan opportunity. If mortgage intermediaries still have a dark, tainted view of our sector they should take the time to speak to providers and master brokers about its many benefits as we, as an industry, are readily available and willing to enter into such conversations.

Fortunately there has already been a huge shift in this perception but there is still some way to go. However recent changes to the Consumer Credit Act will aid this even further by ensuring that all loans, irrespective of size attract the same low redemption penalties. Competition amongst lenders has also reduced rates and improved service standards, add to this the larger number of packagers fighting for the available IFA business and there is no doubting that the client now receives a truly good deal.

However it is important we don’t take our eye off the ball and maintain this professional road by continuing gaining notoriety not for the wrong reasons but for the right ones.