How can brokers be more successful?

Confidence may be an obstacle, says CEO

How can brokers be more successful?

Brokers may be the biggest barrier to their own success, lacking the confidence needed to build their businesses, it’s claimed.

Karl Wilkinson (pictured), founder and CEO of broker firm Access Financial Services, urges advisers to focus on growing their empires, and believes that Consumer Duty offers new opportunities to do so.

“If there is an obstacle, it is probably the adviser themselves,” he told Mortgage Introducer. “They might lack confidence or the motivation and perseverance to get out there and build their businesses.

“The employed adviser has no issues as they are being fed leads, whereas a successful self-employed adviser has no choice but to get up and do something proactive to bring in leads.”

He added: “This is where being part of a supportive, collaborative firm like Access FS can be a game-changer for some brokers. For example, to kick off the year in January, we had a large meeting on goal-setting strategies and the kinds of tactics you might use to achieve those goals. Ultimately, advisers need to think of themselves as a business, and work hard to build their own empires.”

What are the opportunities offered by Consumer Duty?

Wilkinson said brokers should take advantage of the possibilities opened up by Consumer Duty, to proactively help and support their clients.

“Learn more about protection, for example, and other financial services you haven’t yet tapped into,” he suggested. “Then you can offer clients a full financial review. Let them do the talking, while you actively listen.

“Find a decent will writer, an estate planner and an IFA (independent financial adviser) who you can refer your clients to. Truly care for your client’s needs and make sure you fully understand their goals and objectives. They will respect you more and probably refer friends and family to you.

“It’s basic stuff, but easily forgotten when we’re all so busy focusing on our bottom lines.”

What, then, would be the one business lesson that Wilkinson would share from his own career, as a business owner, heading up a broker firm?

“I would say never lose touch with your advisers,” he considered. “Understand the challenges they actually face - not the ones you think they face. Listen to what they say about your business and the market. Then do what you can to help and support them.

“For example, encourage them to have a long-term plan for their business - at least five years but ideally 10 or more. It’s OK to deviate from that plan but make sure you still have sight of your end goal. Don’t just say: ‘I’m going to set up a mortgage brokerage with loads of advisers.’ You have to implement your strategy. I haven’t yet reached my end goal, but let’s just say that Access FS will be worth billions in the near future if I have my way!”

READ MORE: Access FS grows turnover by 128%

How lenders can make the most of their relationships with brokers

Wilkinson, who launched his own broker firm in 2017, believes some lenders are excellent at maximising their relationship with brokers.

“They work with advisers on business development skills, selling skills, closing skills, lead generation, marketing,” he said. “Crucially, they also enable a direct line between advisers and underwriters, which can turn a ‘decline’ into an ‘accept’. A few of my top advisers have forged really positive working relationships with underwriters. All of these things massively drive business for lenders.

“But some lenders just don’t seem to see what they’re missing, in terms of revenue opportunities. Your BDM (business development manager) visiting to talk about criteria just doesn’t cut the mustard. Protection BDMs are great at doing this, however. Not only does their hands-on approach really help advisers, but a busier adviser will be submitting more business.”

The Access FS CEO urges politicians to help first-time buyers secure their own properties, highlighting how tenants are facing the challenge of higher rent payments.

“There are three key areas where politicians could do more,” Wilkinson observed.  “Helping first-time buyers reach the first rung on the property ladder would be a great start. Secondly, politicians could encourage banks to increase income multiples for tenants who can prove affordability on their rental history. Thirdly, I’d like to see them help close the gap between five- and two-year mortgage rates.

“I would like to see the return of 0% deposit mortgages, almost mirroring Sunak’s statement about wanting 99% mortgages. Renters are feeling the pressure of rising rents eating into their deposit savings pot. Surely if a tenant can afford the high cost of rent, they can afford a lower mortgage - even at 0% deposit.”