Jo Breeden

I don't know if you can help me, but…

Throughout 2019, and at the outset of 2020, one question gets asked of us daily and has come to represent the changing role of the mainstream mortgage broker: "I don't know if you can help me, but…".

This is a fantastic evolution of the role, because it symbolises a market that is beginning to understand that the needs of clients are more diverse than ever and that financial solutions need to be considered outside the typical.

And this is where specialist finance holds the key.

The mainstream and specialist finance sectors have always been the preserve of firms or brokers who have always written their business. Historically, this has all been very well and good, but as requests continue to diversify and become more and more complex, we are seeing the traditional barriers break down.

A lot of this has been achieved through education. It is also great to see more and more businesses who traditionally didn’t have the staff numbers to pound the streets and knock on every door embrace technology.

Webinars, podcasts and conference calls now garner as much attention as locally held training seminars, roadshows and industry events. The options for the broker to learn more about specialist finance are more comprehensive than ever, but as always, I urge the industry to do more.

The right tools

Ask a mainstream broker to describe the benefits of bridging, BTL and commercial mortgages, development finance, second charge loans, or specialist residential mortgages to a client and the answers will differ largely.

While the terms and products are becoming better known, the nuances and usage for each are still open to interpretation.

Specialist finance must be an essential part of a broker toolkit as it solves problems that occur in everyday business, such as adverse credit, chain break, multiple incomes and zero-hour contracts. But when these phrases are used by a client, the options can seem perplexing.

I don’t expect many mainstream mortgage brokers have had clients ask for a bridging loan or a higher rate commercial mortgage to serve their needs, but ultimately there is an option that will solve the problem — and the emphasis is on the broker to find a solution.

It is not imperative for a mainstream mortgage broker to be completely au fait with every single sector but, with the right level of market knowledge, there should never be a customer who is told their application cannot be progressed.

Support, transparency and service

Distributors like ourselves are working hard to give brokers the education, support, transparency and service that they are used to in the mainstream market to help them identify opportunities and provide a more rounded product proposition to their customers.

Don’t be scared of specialist finance as the process is the same: fact find, source and present. It suits clients who don’t fit the traditional tick-box mindset. We are solution finders, and education can ensure more opportunity, more business and more happy customers.

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