Broker burnout – how can we tackle stress?

It's a time of market upheaval, and brokers are feeling the brunt

Broker burnout – how can we tackle stress?

Present market conditions have thrown up many hurdles for brokers, leading many to put in additional hours in to get deals over the line.

Mortgage Introducer spoke with Sonya Matharu (pictured)​, senior mortgage broker at The Mortgage Mum, to discuss how the current state of the landscape is taking its toll on the profession.

Broker burnout

“Brokers are absolutely struggling with burnout; the economy has seen some fluctuations recently, and the volatility we are seeing in the mortgage market as a result, has been challenging to say the least,” Matharu said.

She believes brokers are not just struggling because of inflation and the necessity of keeping up to date with changing interest rates as well as evolving regulations, but also because the economic factors impacting the industry have caused a lot of product, affordability and criteria changes with little notice.

The mortgage industry is already known for its high workload, client expectations, and emotional strain, Matharu said, but the stress of an increased, and volatile, workload is another thing.

“The hardest part for many is being the messenger in these situations; it is an increasingly difficult part of the job to have to be the one telling clients the news when things, unfortunately, do not go their way,” Matharu said.

Having to navigate the frustrations of the market in addition to client stress, Matharu said, can be mentally and emotionally taxing, leading to increased anxiety.

Seeking change

“Talking about changing the market will not help the issues we are currently facing as they are not only outside of our control, but also hypothetical; instead, we should be focussing on what we can do to create change now,” Matharu said.

She noted that changing a product with four hours’ notice is not ideal for anyone. When you are investing in a mortgage, Matharu said, you need to know that you are going into an arrangement with trust, and if that cannot be established at the forefront of the process, she added that it is unlikely to be retained during it.

Matharu said this same concept applies to the relationship between the broker and the lender, too.

“Given that lenders may face limitations in increasing the notice period for product changes, it could be worthwhile for them to consider alternative actions that could contribute to enhancing the overall application process and experience,” she said.

One approach, Matharu suggested, could be streamlining the underwriting process and facilitating easy case corrections and amendments so that in the event of a last-minute market change, it does not have such a negative impact.

Meanwhile, Matharu said brokers should be considering measures that are within their control too. These include embracing emerging technology, utilising project management tools and taking a look at their own policies and procedures to see where improvements could be made.

However, no matter what the approach may be, Matharu said it is clear that working together is the way to combat burnout.

“The world of mortgage brokering can often feel individualistic as so often we focus on our own workload and clients, and so taking time off can feel impossible as we are scared to miss a message, or a policy change which can impact our client’s futures,” Matharu said.

As such, she believes utilising a collaborative approach, such as a buddy system, could provide some mental security - knowing that you have a trusted ally to look after your communications while you take time off, without looking at your phone and having an ‘always on’ attitude.

Increased support

“From my perspective, I can see an overall shift in attitude towards mental health for the better, across all industries,” Matharu said.

For brokers specifically, she has witnessed an increase in firms acknowledging the stress and demands of jobs and taking steps to support them and promote self-care.

To really inspire change, however, Matharu said the support needs to be foundational - such as with buddy programmes and policy changes, as well as taking a look at management.

“Training programs can also help, not only for educational purposes on the role itself but for managing workloads, other people’s expectations and best practices for navigating difficult situations,” Matharu added.

All in all, Matharu said if you really want to address broker burnout effectively, it is crucial to look inwards and ask brokers what support they need.

What approaches do you believe brokers should take in reducting stress? Let us know in the comment section below.