Trust in professional advisers continues to grow and brokers need to welcome technology to reinforce their value
So here we are at the end of a long, tumultuous year that, between you and me, I am glad to see the back of.
It began with rock legends dropping like flies and included such delights as the EU referendum, ensuing legal challenges and exposing of a government without any kind of clue around how to negotiate, let alone actually leave.
The divided nation it has caused here has been echoed by our cousins across the pond, who wanted a piece of it themselves and duly elected Donald Trump. It is still slightly harder to believe than Leicester winning the Premier League but it just goes to show the utter disillusionment people have with the ‘leaders’ and a system that has let down too many.
In Europe, the status quo sweat nervously ahead of important elections as the far right play on people’s fears. The EU is at a complete crossroads, Greece still suffers and Italian banks sit on a cliff edge.
Back in Blighty, we have a new chancellor and yet another housing minister, but still no proper, long-term plan. House prices have at least eased their levels of growth, although this has much to do with the stamp duty changes at the top end that seem to have backfired.
Meanwhile, the Government and the PRA continue to twist the knife into the backs of buy-to-let landlords, FCA fees for firms continue to rise and we have a “competition” review to look at.
In fact, 2016 has been a little bit like the second film in a trilogy, when everything goes against the grain and characters come together in unlikely situations to set up the final instalment with a cliff-edge ending.
But that is where we can all take heart. The third part of any trilogy is where good fights back and, ultimately, wins. They learn from mistakes and adapt: something Britain and our industry has always done.
So we have much to look forward to. Technology should not be feared but embraced as a tool to help us do our jobs more efficiently. Brokers are best placed to use this to our advantage, as trust in professional advisers continues to grow.
There are new lenders coming, helping to force traditional ones into positive changes. We have interest-only loans, more options for the self-employed and contractors, and greater help for older borrowers and first-time buyers, even as we bid farewell to Help to Buy 2.
What is more, an increasing number are recognising the work of brokers with retention policies. Others will follow suit or face a battle they cannot yet quite fathom.
New brokers are also coming through and more females than ever are looking like becoming stars of the future in our male-dominated industry. The youngsters are bringing fresh ideas and new methods of communication.
The future of our industry is a lender/broker partnership with customer service at its heart. Those who try to plough their own furrow or tell the client what they think they want will struggle.
Our industry can only strengthen further. Gross mortgage lending will grow next year and the remortgage market will gain momentum. The buy-to-let market will settle, not disappear.
Have faith my friends. Organisations such as the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries will continue to provide a clear voice above the maelstrom and battle hard for our futures and the rights of our clients.
I know you will continue to work hard for the benefit of your clients. However, I do ask for one early resolution from us all. BDMs have a tough job. There is no excuse to treat them shabbily or slag them off on social media. Let’s treat them with the respect they deserve for walking into the lion’s den of brokerages all across the country. Why not say thank you this Christmas? Hell, buy them a drink and work on a better relationship in the New Year.
Before I leave you, in the final update of the year, three-month Libor is still at 0.38 per cent while swap rates have already taken off for their Christmas sojourn.
2-year money is up 0.01% at 0.65%
3-year money is unchanged at 0.74%
5-year money is up 0.01% at 0.94%
10-year money is up 0.01% at 1.34%
Andrew Montlake is director at Coreco