Secured Loans Watch: We’re getting there

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Volumes are lower than expected because of a lack of buy-in from advisers – but headway is definitely being made

There has been much discussion around the seconds sector of late but, sadly, most of it has not been very positive. The main discussion point is its relatively low volumes and how they are not as expected because of a lack of buy-in from advisers.

That said, any comparisons between the first quarter of this year and the same period in 2016 would be a wasted exercise. The pessimists seem to have forgotten that Q1 2016 saw a spike in new business in the lead-up to the Mortgage Credit Directive.

There has also been talk of creating a new trade body to support the sector. No idea with such an aim should be sneered at, but surely we should support the Association of Finance Brokers, which has served us all well through the most significant time of change in recent years.

Indeed, it remains a far better approach to work with the existing trade bodies, which already play an active role within the sector, promoting its benefits and educating and providing support for advisers. But we can all do more.

Fact-find discussions

We are a long way from customers coming to advisers to ask for a second charge but we are definitely making progress. Many advisers have built discussions on alternative solutions to a remortgage into their fact-find, in the same way they talk about things such as protection.

If this is in the adviser’s psyche, it will transfer to the customer. The decision is then whether to utilise the adviser’s own permissions – if they have them – to make the recommendation, or refer the case to someone else.

It is clear to many in the sector that seconds represent a very viable alternative finance option to a remortgage, and over time more people will see this. Rates continue on a downward trend and lenders recognise the need to be fluid and able to act quickly to ensure their products are viable. This often entails much greater flexibility than our friends in the mainstream world enjoy.

The specialist sector was out in force at the recent Mortgage Strategy Awards. Traditionally, the event has been much more mainstream, but the specialist side of things has definitely crept in over recent years.

And it was great to see accolades being given to those who work so hard to support customers who simply do not fit the normal mould. Without these businesses, such customers would remain disenfranchised and left in the dark.

Adaptability

The specialist sector has experienced more disruption than most over recent years and continues to deal with ongoing changes to buy-to-let. But it is testament to its strength that it can adapt to such change and keep meeting the needs of customers.

So let’s not talk down the progress the sector has made; instead let’s talk up the opportunities that remain.

We should all be proud of the headway made as a community, and resolve to continue that drive to raise our sector from within.

Bradley Moore is managing director at Brightstar