"Many brokers will need a lift but history shows finance is cyclical and providing they can weather the current storm I’m sure they will again prosper."
We spoke to Jason Berry, group sales and marketing director at Crystal Specialist Finance, about how Crystal has been impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak and why specialist lenders will play a bigger role in the mortgage market in the near future.
FR: You recently moved from ‘interim’ to a permanent position as group sales and marketing director position – how has your role been impacted by Covid-19 and what has a typical day looked like over the past few months?
I have been delighted to commit myself permanently to Crystal Specialist Finance. When I joined in January 2020 I very much thought I would be using my experience to drive sales growth and help increase yearly profits, but of course the world changed. Covid-19 certainly disturbed those objectives and created an urgent need for the Crystal business to pivot. Daily leadership meetings were introduced and the agenda quickly moved from executing disaster recovery plans to strategic project planning where new processes and technology enhancements were designed, most notably to capitalise on a recovering H2 marketplace.
FR: How has Crystal been impacted by the outbreak and what do you think will be different going forward?
Like all companies we had to put costs under the microscope and in early March we forecast best and worst case scenarios. Luckily, we probably ended up somewhere in between our predictions during April, May and June, whilst July and August were record months for enquiries and applications. Pleasingly we beat the figures recorded in July and August 2019. I’m confident this sales momentum will continue and importantly the technology enhancements we have introduced will deliver noticeable efficiency improvements through Q4 and beyond.
FR: Do you think specialist lenders will play a bigger role in the mortgage market in the near future?
Absolutely. It is logical to believe there will be a much higher percentage of the UK population whose financial requirements fall outside the typical ‘normal’. I’m extremely interested to see how specialist lenders adapt and observe, who shows the most appetite and who delivers product innovation. At Crystal our commitment will be to facilitate the best possible customer outcome whatever the circumstance.
FR: How optimistic should mortgage brokers feel about the future marketplace?
I have been blessed to work in the financial intermediary marketplace for over 25 years and during this period, time after time I have witnessed amazing resilience from our sector. This latest Covid-19 challenge is a huge setback and undoubtedly, many brokers will need a lift but history shows finance is cyclical and providing they can weather the current storm I’m sure they will again prosper.
The current health and wellbeing of brokers during this time is of particular concern to me and the Crystal Leadership Team, and that is why we have just launched a long-term Health and Wellbeing campaign for the intermediary sectors. You can find more information here. The first step is actually trying to establish exactly what the current sentiment and mood is from within our sector via our Health and Wellbeing survey. The results will be interpreted and working with mental health charity, Mind I hope to deliver a sustained campaign which offers support for those who need it.
FR: If you could see one headline about the lending market in 2020, what would it be?
It may have already occurred but let us hope it is sustained all the way through to 1st April 2021 - ’Stamp duty changes create a record number of property transactions’.