If you are anything like me, New Year’s resolutions tend to become rather hazy by the end of January and completely forgotten by March. Of course, these tend to be of a personal nature, like getting fitter, training for a marathon or even just cutting down on the amber nectar.
While none of us aim to fail, the simple truth is that we are not (at least I am not) fully committed to those personal resolutions. Of course, that sounds absurd when the knock on effect of poor health decisions can have such a negative outcome on all other aspects of life. But the truth is when we look at our business goals for the coming year, we tend to take those a lot more seriously because they have a more direct effect on our immediate income and job prospects!
So what are we looking at for the New Year and the outlook for business? Well, of course, we can always make Brexit the ultimate ‘get out of jail free’ card, and wave it at year’s end if our expectations and those of our peers have not been met.
Brexit does cast an ominous shadow, but it cannot be allowed to limit our ambitions as business people. The best we can do is to plan for as many eventualities as possible and work for a positive outcome. More easily said than done, some might say, but whatever the challenges we may face as an industry or in the wider context of the UK, we cannot afford to look on 2019 as any different from any other year, whatever the issues.
Looking back, 2018 has been another great year in the second charge mortgage sector, not only in terms of new business volumes, but also because more advisers have been coming forward to use secured loans for the first time.
Much of my time and that of my sales team has been taken up this year with spreading a positive message about second charge lending. We believe passionately, not in ramming secured loans down the throats of advisers, but in demonstrating where they can be a better option for capital raising than a remortgage and then letting advisers make up their own minds.
This has been one of the most satisfying years for me because our ‘softly softly’ approach has reaped dividends. I have always believed that advisers need strong reasons for recommending second charge and also the reassurance that it can be a better option, depending on the circumstances.
Suffice to say that in 2019, one of my main goals is to continue taking our message to adviser firms and I am in no doubt that our approach will elicit more new business from advisers that have never done a second charge mortgage before.
Looking forward, I think the principal challenge for advisers in 2019 will be to make their businesses more tuned to the customers they serve. One of their biggest assets is their bank of existing customers, but many advisers have already found that they have been less likely to wait to be contacted or to be in touch with their original adviser for help in 2018. The internet and the access it gives to online providers means that unless care is taken to ensure that regular contact is maintained, someone is much more likely to steal them away. With new business opportunities at a premium in 2019, one of the principal goals for all adviser firms must be to focus on ‘working’ their customer base as diligently as they pursue new business opportunities.
Jeff Davidson is head of intermediaries at Fluent for Advisers