"We are incredibly pleased with the efforts of all our AR firms, the advisers, and the work of the Stonebridge team which has gone on despite the turmoil."
Mortgage and protection network, Stonebridge, has announced an increase in appointed representative (AR) adviser recruitment numbers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
During the lockdown, 26 new registered individuals joined the network, bringing the number of total advisers within the network up to 693 across 340 firms. Stonebridge said it anticipates 22 more advisers will be onboarded shortly.
Stonebridge also revealed positive levels of new business activity during May, especially after the easing of lockdown measures across England.
It said the number of mortgage applications processed during the month was 12% ahead of budget, while the number of purchase mortgage applications had increased by 55% between April and May.
During temporary office closures, Stonebridge's business standards team received over 1,200 inbound calls, conducting 222 file checks and carrying out 133 observations during May alone and despite remote working.
In the same period, its business development team carried out over 500 adviser calls, over 50 remote business and planning meetings, and conducted over 60 remote training sessions.
The network said that, given its ongoing ability to maintain quality and service levels via a remote working arrangement, it had no plans to reopen any of its offices during June or July.
Rob Clifford, chief executive of Stonebridge, commented: “Getting to grips with the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic has been challenging for all businesses including ours, but we are incredibly pleased with the efforts of all our AR firms, the advisers, and the work of the Stonebridge team which has gone on despite the turmoil.
“To have materially increased our adviser numbers during this period is a fantastic result, down not only to the work of our recruitment team, but also those existing AR firms who are increasingly looking to add advisers to their businesses in order to meet demand.
“The easing of lockdown has undoubtedly had a positive impact on purchase activity levels and, while it is still early days, it has been very promising to see strong mortgage application numbers, particularly purchase cases, given the uncertainty about how consumers might respond.
“That said, these do of course remain very challenging times, particularly as we navigate our way through this situation, and we seek to overcome the obstacles presented by product availability and lender caution. What we can do as a network is to continue to support all our advisers through this process and to provide service excellence and tangible support to grasp the many opportunities.
“No one underestimates how different 2020 is turning out to be from any expectations the market had back in January, but by utilising everything Stonebridge has to offer we believe our advisory firms are very well-placed to come through this period in good shape.”