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Another great year for intermediaries

As we launch into another year, resolutions will be made and broken. Some of those resolutions will be personal and some professional, and brokers and lenders will be hoping that 2007 will be a robust year.

Trends show year-on-year growth in the number of people using brokers to fulfil their mortgage needs and this seems set to continue. Brokers have become particularly prominent in the past 15 years with millions of people benefiting from their expertise.

In the past decade brokers have also become more instrumental in the buy-to-let market as it has grown and as sectors such as sub-prime grow so will the opportunities for them.

The relationship between lenders and brokers is likely to get stronger with the former putting more emphasis on their propositions to brokers. In such a fast-moving market, efficient service along with open communication is critical.

Technology will be another key differentiator in 2007 and lenders will continue to push the boundaries to make brokers’ lives easier.

So 2007 is likely to be another great year for brokers and bring opportunities for growth and consolidation as well as diversification for those wanting to move into new sectors. Whether this is a year for brokers to stick to their knitting or try out new areas, there are a number of factors which can affect the turnover of a broker business:

l Local competition with brokers who have similar or larger practicesl Larger brokers have an advantage over smaller ones as they have a higher profile and more substantial resourcesl The health of the property marketl The introduction of legislationl The level of fees chargedl A change in the size of a practicel Inefficiency and poor record-keepingl Seasonality can affect business as most people don’t buy homes at the end or start of a yearKeeping up with compliance is another area that will be important for brokers. The Financial Services Authority has passed jurisdiction of examinations over to the Financial Services Skills Council.

The FSA’s ‘approved’ qualifications have changed under the FSSC to become ‘appropriate’ qualifications, and are defined as being fit to protect consumers, add value to firms and help those who pass the exams with their career prospects. Further changes are likely and brokers should keep an eye on the FSA website.

Brokers have played a prominent role in growing the mortgage market in the past few decades and there is little doubt that they will make an even more valuable contribution to the growth of all sectors this year.

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