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Jobsworth brokers must think again

If you are one of the 108 brokers who told a survey by the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association that supporting borrowers who get into financial trouble isn’t part of your job description, shame on you.

I’d love to know what you tell clients struggling with repayments. Hopefully you refer them to someone who gives a damn rather than slamming the door in their faces.

I’m all for consumers taking more responsibility for their borrowing decisions, but the fact remains that brokers advised clients to take on loans that many of them can no longer afford. Surely this counts for something.

IMLA says those brokers who felt obliged to help struggling borrowers did so not only by providing a shoulder to cry on but also by helping them source cheaper deals. So besides the moral issue, brokers can financially benefit by helping struggling clients. This is a win-win situation.

Good customer service can never be rated highly enough. I recently popped into a trendy make-up shop to complain about the expensive eyeliner that I’d bought there and left clutching £50 worth of additional purchases. If only you could bottle that sort of sales technique.

Brokers and IFAs like to emphasis the advice element of their work but in order to pay the bills they need to sell clients something. Offering an all-round service has to be the way to go. A few years ago a friend of mine was told by her broker that her income wasn’t high enough for her to afford a mortgage.

But he did so in such a sensitive way that she went back to him two years later after her boss gave her a pay rise.

I recently talked to a debt collector about her experiences working with consumers struggling with debt.

Apparently, those who literally can’t afford to pay their creditors are in the minority. It’s far more likely they’re naive consumers seduced by our buy now, pay later culture who failed to prioritise their debt.

If clients come to brokers because they are struggling to pay their mortgages, one would assume they don’t want the situation to get any worse. Spending some time helping them prioritise their outgoings and investigating refinancing possibilities might be all it takes for them to turn things around.

So if you were one of the 108 brokers in the IMLA survey I suggest you think again. After all, as the latest data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders shows, residential mortgage volumes are down but remortgages are up.

If customer retention is important to brokers, then taking a short-term approach to their clients is the worst thing they could do.


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