TMA recently hosted a focus group with a group of directly authorised mortgage and protection advisers to find out how DAs saw the market and explore exactly what they wanted from their mortgage club.
DAs, it turns out, are a lonely bunch, rarely getting to spend time with other advisers and discuss the state of the market or how their business is going. As a result they welcome any opportunity to get together with other advisers and share best practice or just discuss how others run their businesses. Such events, it appears, are in short supply with most mortgage clubs, so the view was expressed that when TMA did a get together, even of the simplest nature, it was well received and the call is for more such events.
Award events or dinners for top performers were even more highly prized as few but the very top performers from the larger firms ever appeared to get invited to attend the better known industry events.
On the theme of needing or wanting people to talk things through with, a helpful mortgage desk and a BDM who they could meet with face to face was, understandably, highly prized. The best mortgage desks were considered those who provided a continuity of staff, so advisers know who they are going to talk to and they can be confident of speaking with knowledgeable mortgage helpdesk staff who they can talk cases through with in detail and be confident of getting a expert and helpful response. The attitude of the helpdesk staff was also important, the personal approach was highly prized with advisers preferring help desk staff they found approachable, who took the time to talk to them and who were not trying to get them off the phone in order to speak to the next caller.
With such a wealth of respected trade publications advisers found they could easily get generic industry news but prized specific information about lenders, products and rates from the club they used.
Money is, of course, why most people are doing the jobs that they do, so speed of payment and amount of proc fees was crucial. Market leading proc fee rates was a priority whereas getting paid directly from the lender, even though the adviser had put their business through a mortgage club, gave DAs confidence that they would always get paid and get paid quickly, no matter how the mortgage club did.
Some comments indicated that it was easy to get stuck using one mortgage club because it is what they had done for years even though it was not necessarily the best club for that particular adviser. Others said that it was easy to overlook the smaller clubs and most said that they would benefit from doing more business with a smaller club from whom they could get a level of advice and support that the larger clubs couldn’t always provide.
Additional support could include sales advice and ideas, help with compliance and help to grow their business.
What is clear is that with such a rapidly changing environment, potential European legislation and the MMR just over a year ago, advisers are now looking for much more than just a large panel of lenders. While good rates will always be important, many DAs also want a greater level of help and support that will help them to survive and prosper while keeping the independence of being Directly Authorised.
Karen Hedges is marketing manager at TMA and First Complete