Opinion piece: Never assume you know it all

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Brokers must future-proof themselves by providing a holistic proposition and using technology to update and improve it

Uncertainty has become the watchword for much of the global political and economic outlook over the past 12 months. Yet, despite a lack of certainty about the impact of events such as Brexit, last year was a strong one for the mortgage market.

In 2017 we continue to see high levels of activity, with the intermediary market playing a critical role in helping borrowers navigate the complexities involved in finding the right solution. Given both the regulatory change and wider uncertainty yet to come, good advice remains vital.

Market masters

Indeed, the professional opinion of an adviser can make all the difference – from helping a client step onto the property ladder to finding a remortgage deal that could save someone the equivalent of a pay rise.

To take advantage of these opportunities, brokers must not only proactively engage with new clients but also consult their back-books to meet the needs of existing customers.

One-stop shop

That said, intermediaries should not take for granted the importance of the role they play. As new disruptors such as robo-advice firms endeavour to streamline the advice process, brokers must work on future-proofing themselves by providing a holistic proposition and using technology to update and improve that offering.

The rise of the specialist market, increases in the number of first-time buyers, changes to buy-to-let and the growth of equity release all give brokers the opportunity to maintain a central role. From borrowers with irregular incomes to older couples looking to unlock equity from their home, advisers are having to deal with ever more complex cases.

The role of advice in these cases is essential to achieving the right outcome for the customer. But the real added value comes by maintaining that personal, friendly, professional relationship throughout the client’s lifetime, not just during the transaction. This is something a robot or bank adviser will find difficult to replicate.

Interest-only

Intermediaries also play a big role in helping interest-only customers whose mortgages are approaching maturity. Recent research by Leeds Building Society has shown that just over 450,000 interest-only mortgages in the UK will mature by 2020, with £16bn-worth in 2017 alone.

It is vital that interest-only customers have a plan in place to pay off their debt upon maturity. Whether that is through remortgaging, agreeing on a new arrangement with their lender or releasing equity from their home, brokers have a good opportunity to contact these customers and provide the advice they need as they approach the end of their loan term.

There are plenty of people and tools out there to help advisers achieve all of this.

Clubs and distributors, for example, help to deliver access to lenders, procuration fees and exclusive offers.

There is also an abundance of education, events, webcasts, support desks and other information on offer.

Take advantage of what is available – it is there to help you and your business succeed.

Jeremy Duncombe is director at Legal & General Mortgage Club