Mortgage broker career / business regrets

Journalist: Lana Clements, Freelance

ended 09. May 2022

I'm doing a piece for Mortgage Solutions about brokers' business or career regrets / lessons learned - and am looking for advisers to share thoughts and examples to feature! Some ideas:

  • Where did you invest money that you shouldn't have (expensive offices or websites for example)?
  • Marketing mistakes? Hiring errors?
  • Anything that the wiser you would go back and tell the you just starting out?

8 responses from the Newspage community

"Firstly, I'd go back and talk to my younger, slimmer self and say define your process, stick to it and never ever deviate. Secondly, always get a credit report regardless of what a customer says. Thirdly, set up a Newspage to generate a load of press coverage for your business. It's the best thing since sliced bread in turns of generating credibility, brand awareness and trust, which are vital for brokers."
Star Quote
"I regret trying to be all things to all people in the early days. I thought that’s what I needed to do in order to not miss an opportunity to write business. Now I specialise in some super niche scenarios such as PhD students receiving a stipend, or those on fixed term contracts, and opportunities fall at my feet to write business. Trying to stay up to date with everything that might affect every type of client dilutes your service. Find what you are good at, with a type of client you like, and write the same case over and over again and be an absolute expert in it."
"I don’t actually have any regrets. What was meant to be was meant to be and everything I’ve ever done has led me to this point. Now mistakes, damn I’ve made more mistakes than Boris in the past. The opportunity to buy a shed load of bitcoin for next to nowt, not getting into financial services earlier, and Magaluff 2000 are just a few. I’ve been a professional athlete, fire fighter, very successful construction manager and it’s taken me nearly 40 years to find my calling as a broker. And you know what, I wouldn’t change a thing."
"Think about registering a patent for a new idea, as I think I've given away the keys to the castle far too many times. Also think carefully about the cost of advertising as intermediaries have to compete with the huge advertising budgets of large financial institutions. It's far better to engage the services of small business champion, Dom Hiatt, and his team at Newspage, for example."
"For me there are two things I would have done differently if I could go back in time, and they both relate to poor service. The first one is solicitor referrals: we had a panel of solicitors available to us when we set up the company and we recommended them to our clients based on the panel ranking system, which resulted in some of the worst customer experiences our clients had ever been involved in. We've since built relationships with more trusted solicitors but it reflected badly on us at the time. The second one is setting up our office through Regus, initially they were great but we soon came to realise that they are the Ryanair of office space and when we were forced to move location and noticed the terms and conditions had recently changed to say we had no choice in the matter it didn't sit well with us, or any of the other 30 companies that had to relocate either."
"Hmmmm. Regrets…not joining Newspage UK sooner? In all seriousness, I started my practice in 2009, amid the credit-crunch, not by choice but because I had been made redundant by the Building Society I worked for. It was a steep learning curve. Looking back on it now there were a whole host of mis-steps, but many are quite specific to what I do, such as finding the right time and way to introduce a conversation about insurance into the mortgage process with clients. More generally, the one thing I did wrong was being too keen. When you are starting out and have very few prospects it’s very easy to follow-up too quickly and too often, coming across as a bit desperate. They might be number one on your “to do” list, but you could be tenth on theirs. Relax, have faith that you are doing a good job, and give prospects time and space. It worked wonders for me once that penny dropped."
"As Public Enemy said, "don't believe the hype". If you are a new broker starting out on your journey, get ready to shovel your way through heaps of dung to find a gem of a network. It is highly unlikely but not impossible that you will earn the 100,000's of pounds you are led to believe is achievable in the first year, or the second. If you want an honest assessment of this as a career choice, pick up the phone, send a DM, visit an office and by hook or by crook speak to an independent broker. You may soil yourself when you hear some of the horror stories but you will also love the good parts of this as a career. Look at my profile, I have been doing this job for 4 years and I am 29 (not really)."
"If I could tell my slightly younger slightly less grey-haired self one thing it would be focus on relationships with clients and they will ensure you are never short of referrals. I am all for social media for brand awareness but nothing beats a personal referral from existing clients as all the prancing about on social media for likes will never match a referral from a client who knows, likes and trusts you. Also, being known in your local market is also unmatched especially in a service business like mortgage advice as social media platforms come and go so don't let any social media guru tell you otherwise. Spend time with your clients, always be available for them, at short notice if need be, and stay on top of market knowledge. I would also tell myself to stick to my process and stick to it all the time in what seems to be the most regulated market in the world. If you don't get the client on board with your process, you are either explaining it poorly or the client may not be the right fit for your business."