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Will recruitment in the mortgage industry be affected by the ongoing liquidity crisis?

Market turmoil is putting off quality applicants and discouraging firms from investing in new staff, say our experts

Julian Wells: Recruitment is a struggle at the moment and I can say this with some authority, having been on both sides of the fence recently. Since the start of the year I’ve been a candidate and a recruiter and I recommend neither.

Let me give you the candidate’s perspective first. In January I returned to the UK from a six-month career break and had no job to go to.

Since then I’ve applied for a number of positions in the industry. Bear in mind that for most of this time I’ve been instantly available and open-minded about location – attractive characteristics for potential employers.

Nevertheless, three months on I’ve yet to hear a definite yes or no from the firms I’ve applied to but this is no surprise. Hiring new staff and launching fresh projects have been put on hold until the turmoil in the market subsides.

So times are tough and I’ve been forced to look beyond the mortgage industry. I have spoken to people about work in travel, healthcare and retail and still haven’t ruled out starting again in a different market.

My experience as a recruiter has given me a different perspective. As a consultant I was involved in a mortgage firm’s search for staff and we lost a great candidate from outside the industry.

Unfortunately, the day he received our job offer was one of the many days when the words ‘mortgage crisis’ were plastered all over the national press. The candidate decided a career in mortgages was not for them and you cannot blame them.

It’s hard to believe that people are going to feel confident about becoming brokers in the near future. High-flying individuals from other industries are likely to look elsewhere for work and this could be the case for many of our top achievers too.

Peter Gwilliam:Times are tough in the mortgage industry. When supply outstrips demand the price of products go down. In this case the commodity is people and the price is salary and compensation packages. The result is not a happy one for those looking to make a living from mortgages.

The severity of the liquidity crisis was impossible to predict and no doubt many wish they could turn the clock back on some of the decisions they’ve made. This holds true for employers and employees, although there’s no doubt who holds the trump card in the prevailing climate.

There are more people than jobs in our industry and this puts employers in control of salary negotiations. Compare this with 18 months ago when the race for market share and volume led to significant wage inflation. In particular, lenders had to offer lucrative compensation packages to woo quality staff.

There is a correction taking place and it will be painful for all involved. It’s difficult to negotiate salaries downwards so total reward packages will be slashed instead. Potential bonuses and pay rises will be harder to come by so it’s hardly the stuff of dreams for those considering work in the mortgage industry.

In my many years in recruitment I’ve always seen an underlying demand for quality and talent, and if we are to retain our entrepreneurial culture we need to ensure high quality performance is suitably rewarded.

But I liken what’s happening in the mortgage industry to what happened in the life and pensions market. Staffing numbers were slashed but employees who survived were given more responsibility and higher salaries.

If you are able to prove your worth compared with the average you should be able to negotiate a premium in any market.

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