Rowan Higgs – Mortgage Mayhem

Well it’s been a while since my last blog entry. Three exams in six months will have something to do with that. I can now tell you how to protect a client’s assets, how that’s regulated and (very shortly), the tax implications. The wall on which I hang my qualifications is now getting busier, as well as the number of acronyms after my name!

Studying aside, my roll at Century Financial Planning has changed significantly since passing Mortgage Advice back in May. We hired an office administrator to take on a lot of my back office duties and my attention shifted to providing research on recommendations to advisers taking the mortgage work off their desks.

I have quickly found out that there were several omissions from the text books. Managing client expectation should have made up a considerable part of the syllabus. But most of all it takes a special set of skills to deal with the likes of the high street lender.

Patience is a virtue. Need to find out what criteria a self-employed applicant needs to meet for Bank X, be prepared to wait “your call is valuable to us and an adviser will speak to you shortly”. A simple query which can be answered in a few sentences turns into 30 minute wait. I’ve found a constructive way to spend my time while waiting on hold is to write blogs.

Once you’ve sourced a mortgage from the whole of the market, and passed on the recommendations to the adviser its then onto implementing the application. “This website requires Internet Explorer 5.01 or above” despite the fact your running off a browser updated less than a fortnight ago. This aspect of the process requires technical ability. I could now deliver an hour long lecture on how to disable cookies and enable compatibility; I’m currently running off three different web browsers.

A cool head in testing situations also goes a long way. You’ve waited for an underwriter to look at a case you submitted 10 days ago. During that time you’ve had the estate agent, applicant, and the vendor’s solicitor’s mother in-law chasing you for an update. Finally the lender responds to your many chases, but now they want to see a payslip from March 2011 and the bank statement you provided didn’t cover the 31st January. So the case has to go back to the end of the queue. But don’t worry they are currently working on turn-around times of 6 working days.

Despite all of the frustrations with the lenders, at the end of the day it’s the client who makes it worthwhile. Mortgages are emotive. Not only is it the biggest financial commitment most people will make in their life, but it also enables people to buy their first home, start a family, or simply to enjoy retirement. And that’s why I enjoy going to work each day. Arguing with a call centre in Delhi is worth it when you can tell someone that we received their mortgage offer in the post this morning.

The next few weeks will see me not only doing the research and owning mortgage implementation but actually going out to see our clients to provide advice face to face. With the experience I have gained doing the smaller remedial tasks and with the knowledge I have learnt through studying, I now know what lenders want to see. The questions I need to be asking clients, and the information I need to gather in order to speed up the process, and to make sound recommendations from the whole of the market.