Our world has changed dramatically over the past six months. This has led to many people reassessing how they live, where they live, how they work, where they work and what they do for work. Some of these decisions are easier than others. Some are made for us and some are all about choices.
What we do know – in what remains a largely uncertain period – is that additional levels of flexibility and working from home (WFH) is likely to be a permanent fixture for many businesses. A recent study of around 1,000 firms by the Institute of Directors (IoD) showed that 74% of firms plan to maintain the increase in home working and more than half plan to reduce the long-term use of workplaces.
In addition, almost half of bosses (44%) whose firms had already cut the use of a workplace thought that WFH was proving “more effective”. This follows a BBC survey in August which suggested that 50 of the UK’s biggest employers had no plans to return all staff to the office full-time in the near future. Economic experts also suggest that the future impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will result in further redundancies and loss of employment, leading to a growth in solo-employment (a sole trader with no employees). One in nine workers are now suggested to be solo self-employed, up from a 2008 figure of one in eleven.
Increased flexibility within the UK workforce stretches way beyond the necessity of WFH induced by the pandemic. Solo and self-employment has been a growing trend stretching back decades, although the past few years have seen a dramatic rise in contracting, income being generated via multiple income sources, with the rise of gig economy emerging to challenge and change the employment landscape.
A mortgage adviser is a prime example of how one profession can take many guises. Some will be self-employed and some will be business owners. Some may be semi-retired and working on a consultancy basis. Others may be salaried employees, although this in itself can take different income paths. Depending on the firms that they work for, take home pay may be made up of a basic wage, commission and/or target-driven bonuses. Or any combination of the aforementioned.
Here at Sammon Mortgages, we consider ourselves to be a hybrid broker which combines traditional expertise with new technology. This includes being home to a mix of employed and self-employed advisers. The self-employed umbrella route is hardly a new concept, it has been going for years. However, with more advisers now fully set up to work remotely then I expect this kind of role to become increasingly attractive, especially for those who are really embracing the benefits attached to technology. And this is an arm of the business that we are looking to grow.
As a tech-driven business, we arm our brokers with valuable timesaving tech solutions to integrate into the advice process and for their clients to utilise. This client engagement is important as a greater proportion of the UK population has become more tech-savvy and utilising front-end systems can help advisers to reduce time spent on the fact find and, in the generating, gathering and chasing of key documentation.
Self-employment may not suit everyone but, with the right types of personal and tech support, it can provide advisers with additional flexibility and greater earning potential whilst offering a level of freedom and work autonomy that is lacking in their current role. And having access to platforms like Ladder really can prove to be the icing on the self-employed cake.
Vince Sammon is CEO of Sammon Mortgages