Bridging, specialist BTL and residential offer biggest growth opportunities, claim brokers

Mortgage brokers expect the bridging, specialist BTL and residential markets to be the top three areas with the biggest opportunities for growth, according to a Crystal Specialist Finance survey conducted as part of its THRIVE campaign.

The study looked at the experiences of mortgage brokers and consumers during the Covid-19 pandemic and assessed the impacts on both mental health and finances.

It also explored how the impacts of the health crisis could cause shifts in consumer behaviour, and what skills and knowledge should be harnessed for growth, development and success in 2022.

The results — published via an eBook today (1st November) — revealed that 62% of brokers believe the specialist residential market will offer the most growth prospects, followed by the specialist BTL (60%) and bridging markets (30%). 

Intermediaries are also optimistic about their businesses’ prospects, with 88% expecting to see growth in the next 12 months — 28% of whom forecast ‘excellent growth’. 

Jo Breeden, managing director at Crystal Specialist Finance, said: “It is encouraging to see that despite more than half of our surveyed mortgage brokers finding the pandemic hard, they stated their outlook to be optimistic for the future.

“The mortgage industry has an opportunity to thrive in the fertile landscape ahead. 

“It also presents us with the chance to extend a helping hand to those who have experienced hardships in the pandemic through tailer-made financial solutions.

“Mortgage brokers and lenders alike have the ability and responsibility to help customers re-build after the crisis. 

“Together, we can act as the lighthouse to help those who still find themselves on stormy seas trying to navigate to the shore.” 

The survey also uncovered changes in the way brokers have been and will likely continue to conduct business, with 56% saying their preferred method of communication is through virtual meetings, while 67% opt for phone calls.

However, 57% of brokers still favour face-to-face meetings, suggesting that a blend of virtual and IRL interactions will continue. 

Self-service and automated chatbot tools will also become more commonplace in the finance industry, with 18% of mortgage brokers saying these tools are now their preferred method of communication. 

When asked what skills and knowledge are key for the future, the majority of respondents (75%) said having product criteria knowledge is the most important. 

On the topic of brokers’ wellbeing, 52% of participants reported that keeping a work-life balance has been their biggest struggle during the pandemic, with 32% experiencing challenges with their mental health and wellbeing. 

The data also highlighted that 66% of mortgage brokers were working more than 45 hours per week during the crisis

According to Jason Berry, group sales and marketing director at Crystal Specialist Finance (pictured above), intermediaries will likely continue to struggle with these issues post-pandemic.

“Brokers are getting better at integrating family life into their work life, but I don’t see much changing during the next 12 months with overall working hours,” he added.

“We expect them to continue to work long hours, but we urge them to reach out for support wherever possible to lighten workload burdens and improve efficiencies — this may be by seeking support to assist with case placement, administration, marketing ideas, embracing new technology, or simply seeking help in areas where specific levels of expertise may be required.

“The sector has demonstrated encouraging signs raising mental health awareness, but there is much more which can be done, and we must come together as a community.” 

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