Giving brokers a break

I have encountered more than a few advisers of late who have admitted to me that they have never belonged to a network, and delight in the fact that they have worked from their office at home.

It is convenient for raiding the refrigerator at lunchtime, making sure the postman drops off those larger packages and doesn’t take them back to the depot, and maybe even catching a few overs of Test Match Special.

However, when you’re starting out as an adviser and you’ve got just got your CeMAP, it can be difficult to know how to sell even the most basic of products.

Passing an exam is only the first step in a long process; the start of the development of becoming a competent broker, rather than the end.

Vital role

Gone are the days when lenders and providers had dozens of business development managers (BDMs) around to provide support and training; with technological advances they are rapidly depleting in today’s market. Networks play a vital role in the development of an adviser’s skills and bringing new blood into the industry, benefiting clients and even directly authorised firms in the long run, having more knowledgeable brokers at their disposal.

With Training and Competence (T&C) supervision, (whereby the broker works with a professional supervisor at a network), essential solutions to problems are offered and the benefit of wisdom is passed down, warts and all. This can ultimately be seen as an apprenticeship, where the trade is learnt, and supervision takes place at every stage of the advisory process. I remember one particular prolific producer telling me at a conference that everybody should do an apprenticeship in financial services, as he said it took him over 10 years before he believed he was competent.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) does the best job it can to supervise new advisers, but it will readily admit that it’s an impossible task to oversee and look after all directly authorised intermediaries – it simply doesn’t have the resources. It is categorical financial suicide to not have broker support and tutelage in this manner, as the right relationship between adviser and supervisor can result in an extremely powerful team.

Network offerings

At the Mortgage Times Group, we have many support networks for our appointed representatives (ARs) that they simply wouldn’t get working as a directly authorised (DA) intermediary. We have a T&C area within our compliance department, ensuring that all of the ARs of the group are competent in carrying out their role following induction and on an ongoing basis. The team is field-based, and supervises the group’s entire national AR population, enabling advice to reach the entire network quickly and efficiently.

We recently held an induction course, where 48 brokers looking to join the Mortgage Times network gained valuable insight into the group’s products and services. The compliance department gave extensive tuition on the regulatory requirements necessary to operate a successful mortgage network, and the practical, transparent way in which we handle these.

Another process we utilise comes in the form of file-checking in our business quality team. They are responsible for checking a sample of each adviser’s cases to ensure the advice process has been followed correctly and the documentation adequately supports this. This helps the adviser to keep tabs on the quality of their own applications, and benefits the consumer by rooting out errors and ensuring accurate mortgage submissions are consistently achieved.

A further support we offer to our advisers is an advice line, not only for compliance but also within our new business department. This consists of highly-skilled experts with a vast amount of product knowledge who advisers can turn to for additional invaluable product information to seal a deal. This has proven extremely successful, and providing this additional level of support gives us a little something extra.

Since ‘Mortgage-Day’ we have seen a huge upturn in business from brokers who initially didn’t want to get involved in certain types of lending or insurance, due to their perceived lack of knowledge. As one of the largest networks in the UK, we invest heavily in people and providing knowledge and advice wherever possible. The result is not only an increase in business and revenue for the AR, but a guarantee that they can offer clients best advice.

In all my years in the industry, I’ve never met a broker who says being part of a network has not been a positive learning experience. I was an AR for 11 years, and the knowledge that I picked up along the way has been invaluable in making The Mortgage Times Group a successful business. The market is forever evolving and working with networks will ensure brokers keep up-to-date with not only regulatory requirements but business needs.