So, welcome to 2019. I hope you enjoyed the Christmas break and managed to re-charge your batteries over the new year period because you probably have the same sense as me – this year is going to require a lot of energy and there might be lots to contend with.
Which might illicit the response, “Isn’t there always?” And of course you’d be right but 2019 comes with a number of added dimensions; a number of hitherto unprecedented events which mean a great deal of added uncertainty, not just for you as an adviser, not just for your firm, not just for the lending community, but (rather importantly) your client base.
Understandably, many borrowers or would-be borrowers might feel they need to adopt a ‘wait and see’ attitude in terms of Brexit and what it might mean for the UK economy. I’m on the record as stating that, whatever the outcomes – and there are ones which are clearly more preferential than others – this sector is strong and resilient enough to work its way through them.
Does that mean that I’d be happy with an outcome which could potentially be incredibly damaging? Of course not. But, in this case, I tend to subscribe to the words of the late, great screenwriter, William Goldman, who famously said, “Nobody knows anything.”
He was talking about the Hollywood machine and its ‘suits’ who may feel they know the secret to producing a successful film, but it’s equally as relevant to those who purport to know just what Brexit will mean for the country.
That’s, of course, assuming it actually goes ahead in the first place. Post-March 29thI would expect ‘somebody to know something’ and as time progresses we’ll all get a greater understanding of what the outcome is likely to be. Up until then, I suspect we’ll all need to hold our counsel and see what transpires; putting our faith in the politicians to deliver is never going to be easy. Indeed, it fills me with something akin to dread – I suspect there are many more ups and downs to go before we get any sort of resolution.
Even with that situation playing itself out, there has to be an acceptance that there is little any of us can do about the political negotiations and what is happening in Westminster and Brussels. Instead, we must look to get our own house in order and we need to prepare our businesses as best we can for whatever the results will be.
In that sense, I can’t underestimate the importance of teamwork, of strong relationships between parties who understand each other, who have specialist experience and skills, and who can be relied on to deliver every single time. That’s what your clients expect of you – why shouldn’t you expect it from the clubs, distributors, packagers, introducers, lenders and providers you deal with?
This is not a market where you can do it all alone. We are all inter-connected and there is an array of professionals required to get deals over the line and to keep clients happy. If you’re not happy with the relationships you have, or you feel that they’re unlikely to be the ones best placed to help you take your business forward, then seek out others who can.
The good news is that there is strong competition in the mortgage market across all its parts, particularly in the lending community. This doesn’t just help drive pricing or product choice, but it also means you can find those who are good at what they do, and good at helping you provide the best service you can possibly can.
By having the strongest of relationships in place, you’ll be able to deliver for your clients and grow your business. This market should not be adversarial – if you feel like you’re working with a business which is on ‘the wrong side’ then you’re undoubtedly working with the wrong one. Look elsewhere; seek those who fit naturally with you and have the processes and systems which make mortgage advice as easy as possible for you to deliver.
That’s certainly our continued aim at Fleet Mortgages, and we’ll be looking to deliver this throughout the next quarter/year/five years/decade, and beyond. Partnerships should feel like they work for all – given what might be coming over the horizon in 2019, it shouldn’t feel like it’s impossible or difficult. It should feel like we are all on the same page. By choosing these relationships and partnerships we should all be able to overcome whatever this year throws at us. I wish you all a very prosperous one – bring it on.
Bob Young is chief executive officer of Fleet Mortgages