How could the mortgage industry operate better in 2024?

Brokers share their new year hopes for the industry

How could the mortgage industry operate better in 2024?

The mortgage industry must work more cohesively, with a common sense, human approach to the way it operates, a prominent broker has urged.

Michelle Lawson (pictured left), mortgage adviser and director at Lawson Financial, said the sector needs to improve the way it communicates in 2024, “to stop processes becoming more important than the task itself”.

Lawson, who offers whole of market advice on residential, buy-to-let, commercial and holiday let mortgages, from her Portsmouth-based business, commented: “The whole industry, in my opinion, needs a common sense overhaul from bottom to top and for all parties. We need to see common sense and the human touch return to the industry rather than box ticking.

“We need to talk more and slow things down a fraction to move things on quicker and more efficiently. Nothing is really simple anymore and requires human interaction and a consistent approach.”

There was a ‘massive’ drop off in consistency and care in the industry over the past year, she observed.

“We need this to return,” Lawson suggested. “Just taking a little more time and care would have great results. We have moved significantly from a technological perspective but this has stopped the conversation. It would be great to see more cohesion as we are all working to the same end, common goal for the customer. The customer should be centric in any process and we are all essentially customers of each other.”

In terms of the service lenders provided, she added, familiarity was key.  

“I’m not worried about face to face visits but I do like a regular point of contact who knows me and my business,” Lawson shared. “Those BDMs who have an element of autonomy are a major asset to a lender and also to a broker.

“It certainly has been an interesting and tumultuous couple of years - I wish for some calm and settling. I think we will see some more product innovation as the interest rate rises hit more people. I think we will see some bank base rate reductions and lenders tweaking policy and criteria.”

In the coming year, Lawson urges her industry colleagues to look after their base, ‘think outside the box’ and embrace technology without losing the human touch she so clearly valued.

Biggest barrier to broker success

Samuel Whittlesea (pictured, centre), mortgage adviser and financial protection specialist at Whittlesea Mortgages in Bridgwater, Somerset, has meanwhile warned that negativity could be the biggest barrier to brokers’ success in 2024.

“Yes, recent times have been a bit messy,” Whittlesea noted. “But with the huge recent increases in the cost-of-living and the market fluctuations of the COVID era, clients need personalised advice, real expertise and true whole-of-market access more than ever.”

He declared: “Let’s be the experts people need, we can offer huge value. I feel that 2024 will be a good year, with mortgage interest rates having reduced to a sensible level and stabilised, it will be easier to do business, due to improved mortgage affordability and client confidence.”

Whittlesea believes that a lot of people held off buying or remortgaging in 2023.

“I expect we’ll see an acceleration in enquiries as 2024 warms up,” he anticipated. “We’ve already seen a significant and welcome increase in first-time buyers recently.”

What changes did Whittlesea want to see in the industry over the coming year, to markedly improve how it operates day to day?

“More auto-vals,” he urged. “We still get too many physical valuations on properties where it is not needed. If it’s not borderline for LTV and the value is realistic, a physical valuation is rarely justified.”

Furthermore, he believes that lenders should pay procuration fees which matches the work that brokers are doing.

“It’s a cyclical debate but the resource advisers have to put in to do the job properly is a significant multiple of what it was in previous decades,” Whittlesea commented. “So, lenders should have made a significant increase to the percentage they pay advisers to secure their business whilst also taking on the advice risk. Lenders have been quoting reduced margins as their justification but it is they that choose their profit margins, so they have the solution in their hands.”

He was unequivocal in the top tip he would give his industry colleagues for achieving more in the coming year – to stop buying leads.

“Speak to everybody you know,” Whittlesea encouraged. “Get out there and talk to people, sell yourself to them as an expert they can trust.”

Time to get online

Serena Smith (pictured right), mortgage and protection specialist at Mortgages with Serena, envisaged a greater online presence for the industry.

“I feel there will be a huge shift towards socials and a reduction in F2F (face to face) networking,” she said.

Smith also wants better procuration fee rates for PTs (product transfers). “The same level of work is required, as a broker, to ensure this is the right route for their client,” she explained, adding that her top tip for her industry colleagues was: “Step into the 21st century, listen to your clients, be the reason they don't need to go direct, by being more efficient.”

She also seeks an end to what she described as ‘the encouragement to work 24/7 as a broker’.

“We are allowed time off, we can switch off and take holidays without our laptops,” she reasoned, sharing that in 2024 she would most like to be able to enjoy three holidays in the sun, “without worrying about work”.