The Specialist Mortgage Sector is growing again. Having been decimated in 2008, this innovative area of the market has reinvented itself and has enjoyed significant growth since. Fewer jobs for life, an ageing population, new tax rules and emerging classes of income-profile present new addressable markets for specialist lenders, so growth is likely to continue.

Intermediary Industry Model

The lenders’ origination staff and business development managers (BDMs) work with brokers who, in turn, sell to borrowers. In the standard sales model, well-established BDMs build up numerous strong broker relationships through one-to-one meetings and network events. They are able to drive revenue growth on a regional or national basis. This picture of specialist mortgages is still relevant, with the performance of senior origination staff becoming increasingly important. Recent sector growth has seen the return of many top sales staff, some of whom moved into insurance after the 2008 crash.

FinTechs Disrupt the Mortgage Sector

Obtaining a mortgage can be a painful experience. Various documents go back and forth between the client, lender, broker and conveyancer, who each have to perform Know Your Customer [KYC] checks. New FinTechs recognise this and are changing the mortgage industry in several key ways:

  • Building APIs between lender, broker and even conveyancing systems to streamline the secure sharing of information and reduce dependency on hard copies;
  • Adopting digital passporting or equivalent to streamline KYC and AML checks;
  • Allowing clients to obtain mortgages in purely online processes as they would for insurance, unsecured lending, utilities or bank accounts;
  • Enabling frictionless switching. Some FinTechs like Habito and Trussle perform the role of brokers with slick upfront “robo” quotation systems that hand over to humans for completion; AI is increasingly supporting the automation of the process.

Relatively straightforward lending, like remortgages, can be obtained through the big comparison sites. New FinTech, Dashly, has established itself as a proactive market monitor that brings the best deals to clients as they arise. The likes of Eligible.ai and Mortgage Engine have emerged to support brokers and lenders to better manage customer data and digitise the mortgage process.

Specialist Mortgage Recruitment

While the increasing prevalence of FinTechs means that tech-savvy people are required in the sector, the unofficial, legacy apprenticeship model that sees new employees advance to the field from phone-based roles before eventually entering account management, is still alive and well. New staff equipped to work comfortably with technology and understand how it benefits all parties may find a faster route up the hierarchy; but contacts, networks and quality activity still rank as the essential requirements. Brokers face the biggest technology adoption challenges and lender staff have a role to play in supporting them.

The most in-demand individuals are still those with large existing networks and proven records of winning business. Some specialist mortgage firms achieved triple-digit lending growth between 2016 and 2017 and top origination staff played a significant role in this success. As the sector continues to grow these star performers are quickly noticed and courted by rival lenders, leading to ever-increasing packages while driving revenue growth for the lenders. It’s important to identify the high-flying individuals within teams when looking to hire, a connected recruiter will be able to help you in this regard.

Hiring firms need to offer attractive salaries, the market is seeing some salaries increase £10k or more with each move. The best staff command high threshold bonus structures, directly related to individual performance, that fairly reflect regional potential and pay out quarterly or even monthly. Car allowances need to be standardised with other players in the market and eyebrows have even been raised in the past over uncompetitive fuel allowances.

Staff retention, as always, plays an incredibly important role as it allows firms to build better-integrated teams with more shared experiences and knowledge of how to work well together. This means it’s important to ensure existing or longer-serving staff are remunerated in line with the current growing market even if that means offering proactive pay rises in some cases.

Healy Hunt

Here at Healy Hunt we’re delighted to be able to use our skills in mapping the market and identifying the highest performing talent, then working with only our chosen partners in the market to ensure both candidates’ and clients’ continued growth

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