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Packager Power

There has been a lot of staff movement in the industry over the past few months, which has led to a shortage of experienced workers in specific locations. How widespread is this issue and what can be done to address it?

Paul Rockett, managing director, The Business Mortgage Company

Staff mobility in the industry has been unusually pronounced recently, which is a relatively new problem caused by the number of lenders en-tering the market.

Traditionally, we’ve recruited lo-cally and as often as not have em-ployed people from outside the industry. We also have a policy of promoting from within the ranks, training and progressing junior staff to more senior levels. But we still need more experienced workers.

We are based in Cardiff and have not suffered from a lack of applicants. That said, from the feedback I get from other providers, this can be a problem elsewhere.

I think the solution is to source talent from other industries. For ex-ample, none of our BDMs had done that job before joining us – training is provided and regular reviews are undertaken to keep people on track.

Interestingly, two of our BDMs have been poached by lenders that I’m sure would not have considered them if they didn’t have that title.

They accepted them with almost no experience once we bestowed the title upon them and provided them with the same level of pay as their more experienced colleagues. Clearly their job title was more important than their experience.

The moral of the story is that if you don’t pigeon-hole staff and in-stead rate them by their potential, a range of fresh talent can be released into the industry.

John Pearson is managing director of Trustguard
To some extent there has always been a shortage of experienced and qualified staff, but it is particularly acute right now.

The mortgage industry has undergone spectacular expansion over the past five years and there are now many more lenders and distributors than there used to be. For example, we have increased our staff numbers from 25 to 75 over this period.

This has had an impact on the job market. More companies need more people, so there’s a squeeze on available resources. This has been made more noticeable by the fact that there hasn’t been anywhere near enough training and development of workers across the industry.

So what can be done? First, ensure you’re an attractive employer. If you’re a company with a positive, proactive attitude to business that’s keen to de-velop individual staff members as well as the bottom line, then you’re well pla-ced to retain key staff.

But if you are not people-focussed, you’re at a disadvantage in the current climate.

Firms also need to have a competitive rewards package for staff. If individuals have the qualifications and experience and a job down the road paying 10% more is offered to them, they’re likely to go for it.

But if you know your staff and treat them well, they are less likely to look elsewhere, irrespective of the pay differentials. If employees are happy in their roles and enjoy working for their firms, that’s half the battle won.

Patrick Tan, sole proprietor, Mortgages Mortgages

There’s no doubt the past year has seen a phenomenal amount of staff movement in the mortgage industry, so much so that supply cannot keep up with demand, even at the senior management level.

BDMs in particular have been in demand, with staff switching from one lender to another or from the broking to the lending side.

The remote underwriting area has also struggled to keep up with de-mand, as increasing numbers of sub-prime lenders look to place underwriters in packagers’ offices.

From the packager’s perspective, staff shortages are increasingly re-gionalised, as upward pressure on competition within certain areas has grown, dictating how accessible po-tential pools of staff are.

This is certainly the case now as profit margins for all firms across the mortgage industry tighten, forcing them to look for ways to diversify such as gaining footholds in niche areas of business.

To some extent this is a double-edged sword, with the high concentration of packagers meaning more trained staff are required.

Packagers should appreciate that good staff encourage development and create a fun yet professional working environment.

They will then be able to build the reputations needed to enable them to retain and secure staff.

It usually falls to us to train and develop our own staff, but this is the case in most industries.


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