"The market is moving fast and it’s understandable to feel that the industry is not offering the support it should."
We’re six months into a pandemic which has turned all our lives upside down. After ‘surviving’ over spring and summer and adapting to what we imagined were ‘temporary’ measures, the lasting reality of our new world is beginning to hit home.
With September comes an inevitable ‘back to school’ feel, but whilst there’s familiarity for our children (staggered start times and bubbles notwithstanding), many of us will have started the new term feeling frustrated that the make-shift office we created in the back bedroom is going to be our home for the foreseeable.
But I see this as a chance for a fresh start. The pandemic has accelerated huge advances in the way we work. Technology is better, processes are slicker and even the way we communicate is more efficient and greener. This is the perfect opportunity to take a step back, reassess what has been learnt, what is better, what needs to be improved and make concerted efforts to improve our working lives. And that shouldn’t be just until we find a vaccine.
Despite all the economic forecasts, most brokers we speak to are busy and it’s showing little sign of slowing down. The initial demand seen in May has been sustained with people keen to move or improve and make their home, which we have never spent as much time in, the perfect place. What we want a home to deliver has changed and as a result the market is booming.
Advisers have an incredible opportunity to support existing clients and attract new business and whilst we know there are a number of challenges to overcome, the fact that demand has continued to stay high proves that there are options for even those with smaller deposits.
Seeking professional advice has never been more critical. Not only for potential buyers to fully understand the current market restrictions, but also to ensure that every circumstance has been taken into account, every eventuality prepared for and any decisions made will last way beyond the next six months. If a London-based office worker, having worked from home since March, decides now is the time to move to the south coast, what will happen if his company suddenly brings everyone back into the office in January?
Whilst none of us know how the next few months will play out, the fundamentals of providing financial advice has not changed. Take a holistic view of your clients’ situation, explore their priorities and understand their motivations. The questions you ask in the initial fact-find will have changed and understanding job security will be more complex than before, but by getting as much information at the start you can provide them with the most suitable options to help them achieve their goals.
Adapting to the conditions
Once you know what your client needs, the next challenge could be understanding if it is still an available option. Every day seems to bring news from lenders launching or withdrawing a product or changing criteria. The market is moving fast and it’s understandable to feel that the industry is not offering the support it should.
Being on top of the latest information can be overwhelming, but it is out there, so find a way that works for you and remember if you’re part of a network or club, many are doing the hard work for you, compiling updates to help you identify the right products and lenders for your clients. You may feel under pressure from clients to get an application in promptly, but a little extra time spent checking all the options and ensuring all the packaging requirements are sent with the initial case submission could save days in the long run if the case can be offered without requesting additional information.
Be kind to yourself
And finally, it’s important to remember that there is no ‘right’ way of doing things at the moment. We are operating in exceptional conditions and having to adapt to ever-changing conditions. It’s okay to question things, review your new working practices and change things if you don’t like them. As you would do an annual review with a client, invest some time in your own business to consider what it is you want to achieve over the next few months and how you can make those things happen.
Taking steps to look after yourself during this period will give you the clarity and peace of mind to help your clients better, have more confidence in your actions and improve your own prospects into 2021 and beyond.