I was listening to 80s record producer Trevor Horn the other day. He said there was no college or university to learn the likes of what he did. I also didn’t go to the Royal College of Mortgage Advice so what do I know and what do I? What do Mortgage Brokers bring to the party?
I learned my knowledge with one of the very best lenders of our era. The C&G. Since then it is a succession of exams, reading, conferences, seminars, and webinars. Every day is a school day and mix that in with a healthy dose of rules and regulations about how I do my work and you will see you are in safe hands. But that is of little interest to you. You expect me to be tip top, so what do I do?
As a sole trading mortgage practitioner, I have had to learn how to run a business. So, I need IT skills, marketing knowledge, accountancy understanding and of course a lot of drive and self-confidence.
I want to take you through a day in the life of House and Holiday Home Mortgages Ltd. My day starts with two important tasks at 7.30. I write a list of 10 or so tasks that must be completed by the days end and then open the Email
My day starts with two important tasks at 7.30. I write a list of 10 or so tasks that must be completed by the days end and then open the email inbox and sort typically around 35 emails left over from the end of yesterday. I cannot let my inbox climb in number uncontrolled! It would be easier if I did this at 7 PM the night before but life would be easier if we all did lots of things… I also promised to stop eating chocolate.
Most days I have a case to load onto my customer management system. That information then needs putting online onto a lender web site. It’s then I press “send” and hope that the application is going to be accepted without too many questions. Of course, life is never that straightforward. The lender will ask for lots of evidence for what I have keyed in. Sometimes I am not told things by my customer. Maybe they didn’t think that important fact was actually that important. It certainly pays a mortgage broker in 2017 to be all seeing and all knowing. And as a colleague once said to me “once we know stuff we cannot unknow it!”
That of course, tells you about a case that is halfway through its infant life. It all starts with a phone call or email where a customer, known to me or unknown, will tell me what they want or what they are trying to achieve. This will be followed by a face to face meeting and getting a full fact-find completed. That really enables me to understand all I need to know about the customers, needs, finances, and how much they can afford each month. Then it’s back to research the best deal for that customer. I have over 50 lenders to use so I need to know their criteria points and USPs. I keep detailed lender notes in a growing card index system. I will call the lenders themselves, call my own network broker help desk who offer excellent tips and knowledge and use my state of the art sourcing system. Every lender is different in their approach and like the weather, things change daily. Rates, criteria, amounts a lender will lend and of course the customer’s needs. I strive to be the best I can possibly be which means giving the customer the very best possible deal.
During my day, I will take a number of phone calls from prospective new customers, lenders asking me for extra information or imparting updates on my cases. Most days I do some form of learning usually by online seminar or a company development manager visit. CPD is a hackneyed old phrase for many but I love learning new stuff. This year it’s all about the criteria of many new lenders my network has given me and learning about company buy to lets which are suitable for many more people now the tax changes are starting to affect higher-rate tax payers.
I am a bit of a social animal and I need human contact so lunch time is dog walking time and fresh air and a time to catch up with wife Claire who also works from home. But by 1.30 I am back at my desk, going through my lists. Making calls and fixing appointments. It is stating the obvious but a self-employed person does not earn if they are not submitting business, so I relentlessly drive myself to keep” filling the hopper” with new leads, meetings, submissions and completions. Apart from the genuine love of helping people, I have a genuine fear of receiving no income at the month end. I can do many days’ webinars, networking meetings, reading, golf, days off, driving for 2 hours and back to see a customer but that does not earn money. So, it’s all a balance.
I have a large book now of super customers and it’s growing. It’s very important for me to keep in contact at least once a year with all of them, why should they show any loyalty to me if I cannot be bothered? They will all get at least a birthday card and business anniversary letter from me.
The day moves on. I call my web man and ask him to make some amendments so Google will love me more. I have made my preparations for the evening meeting, making sure I have all my forms, documents and a relatively unscrambled brain for my 7-o clock. If I am working in the evening I try and stop late afternoon and a have a cup of tea and maybe take in an episode of “Modern Family” or “the Crown” currently. It pays to be fresh and alert for evening appointments and a full-on day is the best way to do that.
It goes without saying I wish I had started this life 20 years ago. I have built House and Holiday Home into a viable business quickly. Most of the time my work is rewarding, interesting and satisfying. There are times when a decision goes badly against you, a down valuation, some unknown bad credit on a customer file, a customer exerting their god-given right not to use you after much preparation work, etc. But like all forms of life and work, you just have deal with the bad stuff and move on. I have always tried to be honest and straight and efficient. If I don’t know, I will say quickly. If I cannot see a way of helping I will say so. Every day is a school day for me and I am excited to see how far I can take House and Holiday Home Mortgages and the great customers I have into the future.
Trevor Horn finished his interview with a statement he often makes to those who think they can do better: “You try it”. In the most respectful way, I know what he means…