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How to become a 'Real life' specialist mortgage broker

Sunday, August 16, 2020

As we all know, there’s no such thing as normal these days. It’s not unusual to be self-employed or single. Or have the odd gremlin on your credit report. It’s called real life.

But when it comes to getting a mortgage, some high street lenders still only lend to people they class as ‘normal’. 

Of course, that’s no surprise to mortgage brokers. According to Financial Adviser, only one in ten brokers think high street lenders are understanding towards ‘non-standard’ borrowers.

And with coronavirus hitting hard and millions of people being furloughed or losing their jobs, ‘non-standard’ could soon become the norm. 

If – or when – it does, you’ll want to be the broker that borrowers turn to. So now might well be the best time to stand out from the crowd and become a ‘real-life’ specialist. 

The rise of specialist lending

The mortgage lending industry has always been dominated by banks and building societies. 

According to The Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA), these lenders have traditionally provided over 80% of mortgage loans in the UK

And in 2018, the ‘big six’ high street FTbanks still accounted for nearly 70% of all mortgage lending.

But specialist lending (or real life lending, as we like to call it) is on the rise. The IMLA suggests the specialist lending market has risen by 19% each year since 2009.

And while coronavirus threw us all a curveball in 2020, it might well have thrown up an opportunity for specialist mortgage brokers.

In fact, according to a study by the Financial Reporter, 74% of brokers expect the coronavirus crisis to spark a rise in specialist lending.

What area of lending could you specialise in? 

When you first think of specialist or real life lending, your first thought will probably be adverse credit mortgages. But here’s the good news – specialist lending isn’t all about bad credit. 

You could choose to specialise in buy-to-let or bridging loans. Or maybe second home or self-employed mortgages is more up your street. 

In UK Finance’s annual ranking of mortgage lenders, the ‘later life’ sector saw the highest proportion of growth – so you might want to specialise in later life lending. 

Here at The Mortgage Lender, we focus on what we call real life lending. We lend to:

TML lend to the self employed, buy-to-letters, peoples whose incomes are more complex and people with less than perfect credit history

When you ditch the industry chat, it’s really quite simple. It’s just lending for real life.

Interview with a real-life specialist

David, tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.

I’ve been in financial services for more than 15 years and offering specialist mortgage advice to clients for over a decade.

I started my career at a high street bank – and that’s where my passion for helping clients with their finances began.

I enjoyed various roles, ranging from branch manager to mortgage adviser. But I found working for a big corporation restrictive. And it was difficult to implement any significant changes I wanted to make.

My motivation was to provide a more personalised service while making the client central to everything we do.

This led me to create my first mortgage business, which was tailored for customers with bad credit. I realised this market was under-served and there was a huge demand for it.

I successfully built the business to a turnover of around £2 million per year before selling it in 2017.

My enthusiasm for financial services didn’t stop there though. I recognised how important it was to provide specialised mortgage advice, and within weeks, I had created New Wave Financial Services Group.

I identified the self-employed sector as a growing market that needed our help. And over the past two years, I’ve successfully expanded the business by tailoring our service specifically for our self-employed clients.

For those who aren’t as familiar with the specialist lending market, how would you describe it?

The specialist lending market is typically for customers who are restricted in their ability to borrow money for any reason. 

If they don’t meet the criteria for lenders on the high street, they need specialist advice to secure their finances.

What made you decide you wanted to specialise in the ‘real life’ segment of the market?

Given my experience and knowledge in the specialist sector, I fully appreciate the huge problems many self-employed clients are facing throughout the UK.

I saw a gap in the market and filled that with a bespoke mortgage service tailored exactly to their needs.

How exactly did you get into your specialism?

When I started my first business, I identified the adverse credit sector was unfulfilled and knew there could be bigger margins by specialising in this market.

My research confirmed this growth – and that gave me confidence our turnover would continue to grow moving forward.

What do you enjoy most about your specialism?

I’m passionate about providing a home for everyone and not just the selected few.

Finding a mortgage for a client when they’ve been told it’s impossible is extremely rewarding. And it feels great to turn our customers’ dreams into reality.

What makes a good ‘real-life specialist’?

Understanding your market inside-out. This is the single most important component that makes a good ‘real-life specialist’. I’d also say having empathy for your client’s situation is equally as important.

If you had one piece of advice for someone looking to get into this specialism, what would it be?

Focus on one thing. Do it well repeatedly. Become an expert.

That’s three pieces of advice, David. But we’ll let you away with it. Anyway, back to business. How have you coped through the coronavirus crisis?

Initially, there was a loss of revenue due to the uncertainty it caused for banks, surveyors and consumers alike.

But our business model gave us the ability to continue servicing thousands of enquiries every month and provide the bespoke service needed during these uncertain times.

Personally, it’s given me time to reflect. It provided the opportunity to focus on areas in my life I often overlook when working relentlessly on my business.

Creating a healthy work-life balance is key – but it’s not always as easy as it sounds.

What opportunities do you think coronavirus will bring to specialist brokers? 

The demand for clients needing help with their finances will increase dramatically throughout these unprecedented times.

Traditional sources of financial advice for clients are becoming even more limited. So being readily available to provide sound advice has never been so important.

Those that recognise this shift and adapt their business model to accommodate will thrive in this market.

 

Please note article content was accurate at time of publishing

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