How much is a broker worth?

Do you think your neighbours, family and friends really understand what your job entails? In a Legal & General report, they found that more than half of UK consumers didn’t actually realise that a mortgage broker could offer greater product choice than banks or building societies – and about a third believed that brokers worked on behalf of a bank.

In fact, buyers have plenty of misconceptions when it comes to securing a mortgage and the role a broker plays in enabling them to find better deals and save money along the way.

Nearly half (48%) of homeowners and prospective buyers who did not use a broker chose not to do so because they felt their bank or building society offered them a good deal. But, as we know, as a broker, you are able to source mortgages from a much extensive pool, whereas a bank can only offer their own products.

The wider public seem unaware, however, with almost a fifth (19%) believing that brokers and banks have the same access to all mortgage products. In reality, brokers actually have plenty more options – up to eight times more than a bank or a building society. According to research, as of 30th October 2017, there were 3,721 products available direct to consumers, compared to a mammoth 29,886 available via a mortgage broker.

Not only is there a lack of knowledge about the differences between offerings of banks versus brokers, the research also discovered that one in seven respondents thought their bank or building society would be able to give them access to the same impartial advice as a mortgage broker.

The research from Legal & General highlights an education gap within the society, with a plethora of misconceptions surrounding the role of a mortgage broker and the true number of benefits they can provide to their clients. Mortgage brokers should be shouting about their ability to offer a more impartial, comprehensive service with far more financing choices when compared to a single lender. It is all about spreading the word and educating friends, family and neighbours, so that they can then spread their knowledge within their network and eventually to the wider public – all to mutual benefit.

So, next time you are asked what you do by your neighbour, a family member, a client, a friend or even someone you’ve just met, be sure not to hide your light under a bushel. Tell them what a mortgage broker does in fact do and therefore what you REALLY are worth.

2017: A year in review

Enhanced systems, superior industry-leading functionality, our biggest roadshow of Mortgage Vision events yet, plus our milestone 30th birthday party raising money for charity….. How do we begin to review just how great 2017 has been for you and us?

Let’s start with our systems.

You, our valued customer, are at the very epicentre of what we do. That’s why our focus throughout this year – and every year – has been on the enhancements we could make to our products, in order to ensure you are able to make the most of what’s on offer to you, and ensure the mortgage sourcing process is as streamlined and simple as possible.

We began in February with the Key as we launched our secure Client Portal, enabling you and your clients to communicate with each other within the Portal 24/7. It was a move that brought you and your customers closer than ever before, and has allowed increased levels of communications within a highly secure environment.

Our other big announcement this year was our integrated second charge sourcing, which is now available in both MortgageBrain Classic and MortgageBrain Anywhere. The system enhancements broke new ground in our industry, offering the ability to compare as many appropriate first and second charge product side-by-side as you wish.

Provided at no additional cost, the new functionality has since enabled our customers to use both MortgageBrain Classic and, more recently, MortgageBrain Anywhere, unlike any other sourcing systems available on the market.

We also celebrated turning the big 30…

Over 300 of our closest partners joined us in April to celebrate the 30th birthday of Mortgage Brain. Not only did the evening allow us to celebrate the last thirty years in business, but it also meant we were able to raise an incredible £100,000 for our chosen charities: Birmingham Christmas Shelter, Contact the Elderly, Young Dementia, MDS UK Patient Support Group, the Alzheimer’s Society, Shooting Star Children’s Hospice, Compassion International and Haiti Orphanage Project Espwa.

30th birthday

On a fantastic evening of celebration, our CEO, Mark Lofthouse, said: “Reaching our 30th birthday is a significant achievement, and as well as giving us the opportunity to celebrate, it was a perfect opportunity to say thank you to our business partners, friends, colleagues and associates.

“It was also the perfect opportunity to help raise much-needed funds for several great causes and I would like to thank everyone who has helped us raise over £100,000 for charity, which will make a huge difference to the people they help.”

And our Mortgage Vision events were our biggest yet.

We set a new attendance record at our Mortgage Vision roadshow this year, with a 22 per-cent increase an adviser attendance – a new record in our eight-year history of running the annual events.

Almost 1,100 advisers joined us at the free-to-attend events across the UK, learning about the impact of GDPR, the creation of a digital customer experience, and plenty more. The events also include round table sessions from leading industry organisations – a real pivotal part of what makes our events so vital for you to attend.

We didn’t stop there.

This year, we’ve also added to our team to support the company’s growth and product development, reached over 12,000 conveyancing quotes with ConveyancingBrain, seen the 2 million transaction mark reached by Mortgage Trading Exchange (MTE), and announced news about numerous lenders partnering with us.

What does 2018 hold?

For the industry as a whole, GDPR will be at the very top of the agenda, as we all work towards ensuring compliance with the new rules and regulations.

Our Mortgage Vision survey found that the majority of UK advisers are at risk of non-compliance with GDPR, with 81 per-cent of survey respondents still having no implementation of rules or regulations as of November. Our main aim going into 2018 will be educating advisers as much as possible on the importance of GDPR compliance, and ensuring everyone is as prepared as can be as soon as it comes into effect.

The digital advice journey will also take centre stage in the new year and become increasingly important, and we will also be stepping in to ensure you have all the tools you need at your disposal to maximise business opportunities and stay ahead of the game.

We’re also looking forward to even more product enhancements next year, with product investment being at the heart of what we have undertaken in 2017, and a continuing focus for us going forward.

Our biggest and best year yet? That’s up for debate, but we are certainly proud of 2017’s achievements, and we can’t wait to break more new ground and help you be an even more successful adviser next year!

Product investment – it is not important, it is critical.

Staying ahead of the game in our market relies on listening to our customers, coming up with innovative ideas to accommodate their changing needs and different ways of thinking. Product investment is therefore crucial to our business’s evolution and offering high-end solutions.

Speaking to Introducer Today this month, our CEO Mark Lofthouse gave his thoughts on how we have retained as an industry and thought leader by ensuring that product investment remains at the top of our agenda each year:

“The technology market,” he notes, “is a particularly competitive market and the longevity and survival of many tech companies is down, quite simply, to their approach to product investment and development. Apple is the world’s largest tech company and regularly features in lists of the top ten companies in the world of any description.

“There’s one very good reason for that – it keeps bringing out new products that people want to buy. The first iPhone, the product on which the company was established, was launched ten years ago and since then they have continued to launch a range of new, innovative iPhones and along the way supported by the launch of new ‘connected’ products and devices like the iPad and Apple Watch. If Apple had lost its way and was still trying to sell the original ‘ten-year-old’ iPhone, I can pretty much guarantee that, as a company, it’d be rotten to the core by now! Blackberry and Nokia prove that point!”

While the mortgage technology market may not run on such a global scale like Apple, Mark notes that the principles remain the same:

“Any company in its sector which doesn’t listen to its customers and adapt to a changing market can’t possibly survive in the long run.

“Let me start close to home for a minute. Mortgage Brain recently celebrated its 30th birthday and we’re still as relevant now as we were 30 years ago. This is because we continually listen to our customers, invest in new products and people, and develop new and associated technology products and services to bring to the market. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be here. Simple as that.”

As the use of technology constantly evolves, you need to ensure you can keep up with it. As Mark points out, having the resources to be able to ensure your vision and ideas become a reality – is crucial.

Mark continues: “It’s why we invest over 40% of our expenditure each year into product research and development. It’s through product development and investment in the mortgage technology market that saw the launch of the mortgage industry’s first ever sourcing system. The ability to complete and submit AIPs and Full Applications digitally and receive a lending decision in under a minute. The launch in 2012 of the industry’s first mobile App that promoted advisers to consumers and brought in new business leads.”

This kind of investment allowed us to bring the industry’s first ever iPad-based sourcing system to the table as well as the development of multi-device, online and offline, fully integrated first and second charge sourcing solutions. It was also through this same investment and development that meant mortgage advisers were able to break into new markets such as conveyancing and second charge mortgage sourcing.

But how did all these developments come about? Mark has an answer for that: “Continuous investment in people, products and services – if done properly – is much more than just bringing new products to the market for the sake of it. Done properly, product development and investment allows companies to help and support advisers through the constant regulatory and market changes.

“Interactive websites with mortgage search and selection capabilities are here and now, together with digital client portals, which enable consumers to complete online Fact Finds, and securely send and receive information and documentation – all of which is way ahead of what the large aggregators have to offer.”

So, what’s next for both the mortgage market and for us as a company?

Mark thinks that anything is possible: “Looking ahead five or more years the biggest changes will be in the way we interact with computers with voice commands taking over from keyboards, and if we go all out Sci-Fi, there’ll be holograms and human-like robots!

“Who knows where it will end? The mortgage tech industry may not work on Apple’s global scale, but it’s still investing millions in R&D to keep advisers ahead of the game in an ever-changing market. Continuous investment, therefore, isn’t important, it’s critical.”

You can read the full piece on our website here.

Integrated Second Charge Sourcing

Breaking new ground is something we are always striving to do. That’s why we have developed a second charge sourcing functionality within our first charge sourcing systems. It’s a rich and powerful feature, simple and easy to use, and is unlike anything else available on the market right now – and we created it to make your life that little bit easier.

How does it work?
Our sourcing systems have been a powerful tool for businesses for the past thirty years, and they’ve just become even more powerful.

The new functionality gives you the option of sourcing and comparing any first and second charge mortgage products, side by side, on one screen or print out.  It gives you a choice as to whether you want to advise on second charge products and deal directly with the lender, or pass the lead to a Master Broker to progress.

Second charge enhancements are currently being rolled out to existing MortgageBrain Classic users and will be coming soon to MortgageBrain Anywhere – so, if you use that system, then watch this space. The enhancements are included in the software and you don’t have to pay extra to be able to source second charge products in either of our sourcing systems.

What are the benefits?

The main benefit, of course, is that you can source everything within one system. Compare re-mortgage and second charge products on one screen with no need to switch to a different system. We’ve put everything in one place to save you time and hassle.

You can also compare as many products as you like at any one time. To do this, simply check all of the boxes of the schemes required to compare remortgage options, and then move to the second charge tab and select as many products required to compare from this tab.

The reload function is another great time-saver. It allows you to save all your searches for a client and open them at a later date. So, if you need to pause midway through, you can save all your scenarios retaining your filters, and re-visit them later when you’re ready to begin again.

Our multiple tabs function also helps you out allowing the remortgage deals to be retained whilst second charge products are sourced alongside it – which enables you, the broker, to work much more efficiently.

Is there anything else I need to know?

If you’re a little unsure about how our new functionality works, you can book a live demo and join our weekly webinars. They are held on Tuesdays at 10.00-10.15am BST, and they take you through everything you need to know about this powerful tool for your business.

For those who want to see what we’re all about, you can begin a 30-day free trial of Mortgage Brain Classic to experience first-hand just how much easier we’ve made it to source mortgages for your clients.

Give us a call on 0208 665 3289, or email sales@mortgage-brain.co.uk one of the team who will be happy to help you begin your Mortgage Brain journey. You can also check out our hints and tips for MortgageBrain Classic, too.

Mortgage Brain’s Christmas Wishes

With only days left to go before Christmas comes around, our CEO Mark Lofthouse outlines his industry-focused present wish list for this year.

Wish 1: Superfast broadband – especially in the UK
In the fast broadband league, the UK sit at a disappointing 19th place, according to an article published in ISP Review in June this year. South Korea lead the way, with broadband a whole 15bps faster than us here in the UK. Mark notes: “We are supposed to be one of the richest nations in the world, with one of the most advanced economies, and yet our broadband speeds are lacking. Governments keep talking about how poor the speeds are, it’s time something was done about it.”

Wish 2: Instant rule changes
Wouldn’t it be amazing that if, whenever a new set of rule was brought in, they were actually put in place instantly? Those of a certain age will remember Samantha Stevens in Bewitched, all she had to do was twitch her nose and voilà! A change would occur instantly. It would be a simpler world if rules were implemented immediately and effortlessly.

Wish 3: Honest and straightforward Advisers
A problem with the financial services industry as a whole for this third wish, following Ipsos Mori’s Veracity Index 2016, outlined the level of trust the public has in each profession and bankers finished sixth bottom. I know that mortgage advisers aren’t bankers, but the financial services industry as a whole still has an image problem. My wish is that in 2017 the FCA doesn’t have to fine a single company. A simple wish, but one which would help the industry massively.

Wish 4: Advisers taking advantage of new markets
Although the mortgage industry is buoyant at present, it won’t always be this way. At some point, the mainstream mortgage market could slow down again… it’s important to diversify now, deliver a broader service to your clients and keep competition at bay.

The protection, second charge, conveyancing and general insurance markets are a number of areas that advisers should be talking to their clients about. There are opportunities out there so don’t wait until your bread and butter work has dried up to go looking for them and deliver a more complete service now.

Wish 5: Everyone taking a step back and calming down
A straightforward request for this Christmas, whatever side of the debate you’re on, our post-Brexit world has been an uncertain one, and the imminent arrival of President Trump hasn’t done much to calm things either. That’s why my final wish is that 2017 be a calmer year, with no more major financial or political upheavals. Is that too much to ask?

A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from everyone here at Mortgage Brain. Let’s hope 2017 will be able to grant Mark his wishes.