"Brokers' growing share of the market offers opportunities"

Expert believes intermediaries could thrive amid customer confusion

"Brokers' growing share of the market offers opportunities"

In a complicated market, one of the only certainties is the role of the broker, suggests Eloise Hall from specialist lender Kensington Mortgages.

Hall (pictured), who is Kensington’s head of national accounts, believes there is a prime opportunity for intermediaries to thrive; a view supported by industry predictions indicating that brokers’ share of lending will grow.

“Looking at the inflationary number, swap rate response and data insights – it appears we are on a positive path, however there is no way to know for sure,” Hall told Mortgage Introducer. “One thing, however, that seems almost guaranteed, is the role of the mortgage broker.

“As the market gets more complicated and confusing for the average customer, it creates a significant opportunity for brokers. Recent data from the Intermediary Mortgage Lender Association (IMLA) highlighted this with predictions of mortgage intermediaries’ share of lending. They suggested broker share would continue to rise this year to 89% and reach over 90% share in 2025.

“Last year, brokers and their customers faced a challenging set of circumstances - including a slowing property market, inflation, the rising cost-of-living, and five Bank of England rate increases. Today, as it currently stands, we have seen what appears to be an improving situation around inflation, which in March reached the lowest level in almost two-and-a-half years.”

How have mortgage customers’ demographics changed?

In Hall’s view, the events which have beset the UK recently have changed the profile of customers who brokers see.

“Due to the last few years of turbulence; two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, a sharp rise in interest rates and the cost-of-living crisis, we have noticed a change in customer demographics and the rise of the specialist customer, such as newly self-employed customers and those looking to use the latest years trading figures towards affordability,” she noted.

“With these changing demographics it’s a challenge for brokers to keep up with the pace of the market, which hasn’t been made easy given the number of product withdrawals and introductions across the market.”

An average of 1,500 brokers register to attend the thought-leadership webinars that Hall hosts, she explained.

“Keep close to your specialist lenders,” she urged advisers. “In a fast-paced market new product solutions and innovations can be missed. When we consider how the cost-of-living crisis has been a catalyst for many specialist drivers in the marketplace, it is likely that more customers than ever before may need a specialist solution.”

As a specialist lender, Kensington uses what Hall considers a common-sense approach to underwriting, supporting brokers and their customers, who may not meet the criteria on the high street.

“As an intermediary only lender, our top priority is our broker partners,” she said. “Every day in my role at Kensington, I am constantly looking for ways to support, grow and provide value to our broker partners.

“We have a full team of business development managers who cover the whole of the UK to support our brokers not just in Kensington criteria but also in business opportunities. This could be from understanding the business a firm submits and opportunities based on data, or on educational topics to help the firm grow and flourish in this changing market.”

READ MORE: Kensington Mortgages teams up with Koodo

Why is mental health an important issue in the mortgage industry?

Hall, who has been with Kensington for five years, and who was recently named one of Mortgage Introducer’s Elite Women 2024, is on the steering committee of The Mortgage Industry Mental Health Charter (MIMHC). It provides guidance, hints, tips and a framework so that member companies can embrace the concept, to best support their staff.

“I believe it is hugely important to continue to raise awareness and beat the stigma when it comes to mental wellbeing,” Hall said, “all while challenging some of the industry norms and actively pursue ways to raise awareness and better support our industry.”

Drawing on her own business experience, Hall shared: “I approach work as I approach a walk up a mountain. There are some sizable goals I am focused on currently and incredible heights that I want the team to reach.

“It’s important to remember you just need to take one step at a time. You need to stay motivated by setting achievable milestones. Know that when the journey gets tiring, you can look back and see how far you’ve come. If you take a wrong turn and things don’t go to plan, it was likely still a good experience and you’ve learned a valuable lesson.”

She summed up: “Most importantly when climbing a mountain, the journey can be a lot more enjoyable when you’ve got company. You can go farther together than you can alone. Take people up your mountain, support them with the right tools to climb and enjoy your time on the journey.”