Zara Bray

An interview with Zara Bray: 'We're seeing a lot of interest from brokers to develop their knowledge in specialist lending'

Zara Bray, key relationship manager at Legal & General Mortgage Club (pictured above), is responsible for educating intermediaries about specialist lending.

In an interview with Bridging & Commercial, Zara —who is part of Legal & General Mortgage Club’s new broker team — talks about concerns regarding the bridging market and whether mortgage clubs are doing an effective job of educating brokers about specialist lending.

You’ve recently completed your broker team. Why was it important to include somebody responsible for specialist lending?

With a larger team, we’re able to broaden our support for the broker community, combining specialists from different areas of the market.

Changing living, working and lifestyle habits mean people’s individual circumstances have become more complex than they have been in the past. Specialist lending has become an area of high demand and having someone on the team focusing on this helps to ensure Legal & General Mortgage Club remains relevant to our lenders and brokers offering these products.

We are here to help firms that wish to expand their proposition, but also use our strong lender relationships to be the voice of the adviser. The aim was to build a framework that meets the needs of our members and their customers.

How do you go about helping to educate brokers about specialist lending?

We host a variety of events throughout the year for brokers. For example, roadshows, forums and webinars. These events offer brokers an opportunity to gain valuable knowledge from a range of industry experts on the changes affecting the UK mortgage market and how best to prepare for them.

Our events are very positively received, and we always look forward to seeing many more brokers benefit from the insight and knowledge that these events provide. We’re seeing a lot of interest and willingness from brokers to develop their knowledge in specialist lending. We’re also investing in market research to provide advisers with material they can use with their customers.

Do you think mortgage clubs are doing an effective job of educating brokers about the specialist sector?

Absolutely. Education is constant due to the changing needs and types of specialist customers, as well as lender policy being updated on a regular basis. 

It’s one reason why we recently launched our new criteria sourcing tool SmartrCriteria. SmartrCriteria holds nine years’ worth of data from the club’s mortgage support services and offers brokers 394,000 criteria outcomes from more than 95 lenders on our panel.

We’re always looking for ways to improve our services and listening to what brokers want, which is why later this year we’ll be focusing on the specialist market at our autumn events and developing our club hub to signpost support.

If you could change one thing about the bridging industry, what would it be?

I think there is a need for more transparency and ease in this market. As an industry, we need to position the bridging market better with advisers and distributors and show its benefits. There’s also a need to make better use of existing tools to continually educate advisers.

What are your biggest concerns for the bridging market this year?

Bridging is still a niche area and relatively small compared with other sectors of the market. However, there is a growing number of lenders in this space. As competition increases, there will be pressure to bring rates down. While this is ultimately of benefit to borrowers, it will squeeze margins for lenders and test the viability of their business models.

How did you get into the industry?

I originally started my financial services career at Legal & General with a view to study for my certificate in financial planning, so I could advise myself. Fourteen years later, I’m still with Legal & General, having joined our Mortgage Club this year. It’s such an exciting time to move into the mortgage industry. There is so much opportunity for us, as a club, to add value to brokers in a fast-pace, evolving division within the group.

If you didn’t work in finance, what would you be doing?

I have two pre-school daughters that keep me busy. As a family, we love to travel, so I like to think I’d be ticking places off the bucket list a bit quicker!

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