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How to make the most of 2014 - advice for mortgages professionals
Andrew Brown, Recruitment Manager at Reed Mortgages in Birmingham, highlights the key trends that will affect the mortgages jobs market in 2014.
Mortgage market trends creating more opportunities for jobseekers
The steady improvement of the mortgage market, and subsequent business growth, has resulted in a notable increase in the number of employment opportunities with both lender and independent market firms throughout the last quarter of 2013.
This growth has been supported by several positive trends in the mortgage market, including the government's Help to Buy scheme, a slight decrease in the stringency of suitability criteria required by lenders, the progressive recovery of the UK economy, and a decrease in the deposit amount required to gain a suitable mortgage. All of this combined has stimulated increased business levels, and set 2014 up to be a good year for mortgages professionals.
The volume of home loan approvals in Nov 2013 was 34% higher than in Nov 2012, and represents the highest level seen since Jan 2008.
Banks lent 32% more to mortgage borrowers during Oct 2013 than they did a year earlier.
Approved mortgages totalled 74,743 in Oct 2013, an increase of 19.7% on the number recorded in Oct 2012.
MMR reforms increasing number of qualified mortgage advisor vacancies
April 26th 2014 will see the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) introduce the Mortgage Market Review (MMR) reforms. The main aim of the FCA with regards to the MMR is to incorporate a suitable framework to ensure a sustainable mortgage market that is better for consumers, allowing the benefits of a competitive flexible market while reducing compliance/risk problems of previous ill-informed lending.
In response to the MMR, some firms are already investing, largely within the recruitment of fully qualified (Cemap, CF1 & CF6, MAQ) front line mortgage advisors. This is because, as of April 26th, in nearly all residential mortgage cases mortgage sales must be made on an advised basis.
As non-advised/informational only sales will cease to be allowed in the market, this kind of investment is certain to continue into 2014 with an increasing number of qualified mortgage advisor vacancies in both relatively small and large corporate mortgage firms alike.
Firms are also (and will continue to be) investing even further with suitably qualified training & compliance staff and new IT systems.
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Compliance, risk awareness & customer service skills increasingly vital
Based on current and projected developments within the mortgage market, I would strongly advise mortgage professionals to focus on the continued development of their compliance knowledge, risk awareness and customer service skills. Those that are keen to secure a new career-progressive role within 2014 would do well to capitalise on the market's increasing focus on the level of service provided while securing the most suitable mortgage and/or protection products for the consumer (both in terms of cost and length of payment, etc).
As an employed mortgage advisor, it is increasingly the level not only of your sales but also your high level compliance/risk and customer satisfaction that will determine your performance, and, in turn, provide you with a strong skill set for developing your career into management and training/development positions.
Finally, as the protection/insurance market continues to have an important bearing on the range of products on which mortgage advisors provide advice, it is also worth considering expanding your knowledge within the protection sector by studying for the R05 Financial Protection qualification provided by the CII.
£50k+ project management & sales training roles on the increase
We are seeing an increase within the £50k+ market, particularly in terms mortgage project management and mortgage sales training/development roles. This is again largely based on the higher compliance requirements in place, and changes that mortgage-based firms are required to make due to the upcoming MMR reform.
Growth in the mortgages volume market
Finally, we are experiencing positive and, in some cases, large-scale growth within the volume market as a result of MMR, particularly within major lenders with large established call centre-based operations. While historically these businesses have provided consumers with a time-convenient, telephone-focused, information-only service in relation to mortgages, they are now required to either up-skill and train existing staff members to become Cemap/CF1-CF6 qualified, and/or employ external qualified advisors to give a full advice-based service.