2020 has been a year of many ups and downs. However, one constant throughout the year – for packagers at least – has been to maintain the highest levels of service and ensure that we keep up to date with constant product, policy and criteria changes across the specialist markets. During times of remote working, coordinating Zoom meetings and even setting up an office in a different part of the country, these are basic processes which should be central to any support service offering. You could say it is packaging 101.
Service has always been at the heart of our business and the past nine months have really highlighted the lenders, distributors and intermediary firms who understand exactly what their clients want and how to best service their needs. On a less positive note, it’s been worrying to see just how many businesses have lost sight of their core values over the course of the year. Brokers, and packagers for that matter, have long memories. In short, we recognise the firms who had their hands tied over the lockdown period from those who simply sat on them and didn’t do enough.
Thankfully, as an industry, we have come a long way since the onset of the lockdown. Many firms who tackled 2020 in a responsible, transparent manner and concentrated on getting the basics right have seen record levels of business in Q3/Q4 and we are fortunate enough to place ourselves in the same category.
Looking forward, demand for short-term finance will hit new heights in Q1 2021 due to increased time pressure on a growing number of property transactions as the stamp duty deadline approaches. However, many advisers still do not understand the intricacies attached to short-term finance and are unable to proactively identify lending scenarios where such solutions could be the answer.
As we enter a time where proactivity is swiftly being replaced with reactivity, a growing number of advisers will need to find answers to satisfy the ever-changing needs of their clients. To complete purchases in time, many of these answers will be found via alternative forms of finance. This means an even greater reliance on specialist support for cases which may no longer sit within an adviser’s ‘norm’. And with an increasing number of cases moving outside this ‘norm’, having robust referral agreements in place will allow advisers to help more of their clients to secure all important property purchases in a timely and cost-effective fashion.
Donna Wells is a director at F4B