Pile 'em high is no longer an option

18 May 2012

Quality versus quantity is one of the constant debates within many different types of industry and while not mutually exclusive of each other, business owners will often feel they have to align themselves closer to one than the other.

 

Do they choose to adopt a “pile ‘em high” approach in which quantity is the victor but a lower margin may result or do they opt instead for less prolific volumes and concentrate on the quality and resultant value of what they are selling?

 

The latter tactic may not see individuals conduct as much business, but the superior quality of the proposition and service provided can often dictate that a higher price is charged, meaning that business owners choosing this route can more than make up the ground on their more productive peers.

 

Mortgage brokers will be familiar with the quality versus quantity argument and the Mortgage Market Review may send some advisers back to the drawing board to reconsider the focus of their business models. The intermediary mortgage market is a very different world to the one we all inhabited before the global financial crisis where only the most biased commentator could pretend that anything other than quantity (volume) dominated proceedings.

 

Many brokers now take a much more refined approach to proceedings, but this is not simply down to personal preference. A massively contracted market has pretty much eradicated “quantity” as an option, not to mention the fact that lenders have become far more discerning about the kind of borrowers they choose to lend to (the priorities vary amongst lenders dependent on their appetite for risk and often the scale and infrastructure of the lender in question). Now application quality as well as the performance of the loans features far more than it ever used to.

 

One way banks have, and are trying to, filter out those brokers who are unconcerned with the performance and value of their business (to the recipient lender) is by rewarding the quality of business with improved procuration fees.

 

Some lenders are ahead of others in establishing relationships with larger mortgage firms and distributors that have a reputation for high calibre, well-established and experienced advisers. Here application quality is high enabling them to sort the wheat from the chaff.

 

Advisers who want to be taken seriously by lenders focusing on quality (and this increasingly means the majority of lenders) could do worse than aligning themselves with such propositions.

 

The economics of the environment in which we operate are constantly changing, however I anticipate there will always be those for whom quantity is the most important thing as they chase business volume and accept business from all and sundry in order to meet targets.

 

Notwithstanding this, the fact is that lender targets are increasingly less about volume and far more focus is being placed on scale and quality, with rewards shifting in line with the quality and value created. Certainly the more forward-thinking distributors have readily acknowledged this and lenders are coming round to the idea whilst working out how they can effectively judge the quality of applications, completions, etc.

 

Some may bemoan the fact that distributors like ourselves have a selective admissions policy but this is all part of maintaining the high standards that lenders now demand. There is no prestige in joining a club that has an open door policy after all. Would people be so desperate to dine at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck restaurant if you could walk off the street and get a table rather than having to book months in advance? Probably not. Likewise, with quality distributors it is all about operating to high benchmarks and being seen to do so.

 

Broker firms and their principals that join distributors should not only expect lenders to take a close interest in the distributor’s list of member companies and the quality of business they write, but they should also be looking even more closely than perhaps previously at their own advisers and their behaviours and competence.

 

Once upon a time mortgage broking may have been regarded as a straight-up sales job with minimal skill required but those days are long gone. Mortgage regulation in 2004 weeded out some of the less committed individuals and the MMR is the latest regulation intended to increase the professionalism of the industry, enhance the quality of advice and ensure the most important people, the end customer, receives a better service as a result. There may be some unintended consequences of the rules but I think, at their heart, they are attempting to protect the consumer and stop the market getting carried away again.

 

As a footnote, and as a message to any interested lender, as you weigh up your choices and develop your respective strategies, please don’t make the mistake of believing distribution solutions lie in dealing with, or excluding, certain regulatory categories of intermediaries.

 

If you’re not already doing so, please engage with intermediaries and distributors, the majority of which are keen to understand and improve our industry’s lot, just as you are. There’s an old phrase that comes to mind: “If you want to mine coal, ask a coalminer.”

I believe we are just at the start of such a process and those ignoring the importance of quality stand little chance of being the real winners once the (coal) dust has settled.

 

Bob Hunt

Blog Archive

Opinion: The mortgage revolution is unfolding 
10 Dec 2018

Brokers’ fortitude will see them through this ‘depressing and dispiriting’ situation 
10 Dec 2018

Paradigm CEO Hunt invests in mortgage switching platform Dashly 
19 Nov 2018

We should be confident despite the uncertainties 
14 Nov 2018

FCA should leave mortgage market alone until Brexit uncertainty lifts 
09 Nov 2018

Not following EU rules could benefit the market 
16 Oct 2018

Long-term fixes fail to catch on 
01 Oct 2018

Mortgage market must ensure it deals in Project Clarity 
21 Sep 2018

Advisers can help landlords get their skates on for HMO changes 
11 Sep 2018

A deeper look at the state of the UK lending market 
17 Aug 2018

Understanding product transfers 
30 Jul 2018

‘Go compare’ is not so ‘simples’ 
26 Jul 2018

It’s worth looking into later life lending 
05 Jun 2018

SVRs are a cash cow for many mortgage lenders 
04 Jun 2018

Leaving a network should be more straightforward 
08 May 2018

Not all later life customers are in the same boat 
03 May 2018

Advisers must beware leasehold ‘minefield’ 
16 Apr 2018

It’s just not cricket 
12 Apr 2018

Proc fee timescales are way off 
29 Mar 2018

Broker-lender relations have undergone a fundamental shift 
28 Mar 2018

Opening at weekends shouldn’t be a priority 
13 Mar 2018

Take control to signpost clients in your direction 
22 Feb 2018

Product transfer: ‘Lenders might view greater adviser involvement as a problem’ 
12 Feb 2018

Buy-to-let advice is needed more than ever 
08 Feb 2018

Open Banking is a revolution without the fanfare 
16 Jan 2018

Land Registry needs to engage with brokers over Instant Mortgage 
08 Jan 2018

Simply focusing on age will not fix borrowing into retirement 
22 Dec 2015

Reduce the regulatory burden for firms by reallocating money from FCA fines 
03 Nov 2015

Customer choice has narrowed – the FCA could help fix this 
02 Nov 2015

The regulator’s differing interpretations of rules 
21 Oct 2015

Change is constant 
08 Oct 2015

Paradigm signs exclusive specialist lending deal with Brightstar 
06 Oct 2015

Landlords cash in on PRS 
22 Sep 2015

MCD – no grace but plenty of favours 
16 Sep 2015

Equity release success signals change in consumer perspective 
05 Aug 2015

Remortgagers play at ‘chicken or egg’ 
29 Jul 2015

BTL has closed the housing gap 
20 Jul 2015

Analysis: Writing a will can avoid a death blow 
15 Jul 2015

Industry deserves housing minister appointed to Cabinet 
22 Jun 2015

Waiving Stamp Duty won't encourage downsizing 
08 Jun 2015

Damned if they do, damned if they don’t 
01 Jun 2015

In the Spotlight with Bob Hunt 
26 May 2015

Election result provides stability 
20 May 2015

‘Grey borrower’ power is set to grow 
13 May 2015

Decisive election result could spur new build revolution 
27 Apr 2015

MMR 12 months on 
13 Apr 2015

Mind the protection gap 
09 Apr 2015

Analysis: Change status with the right support 
08 Apr 2015

Housing will be election battleground 
16 Mar 2015

Securing the specialist string to your bow 
04 Mar 2015

Interest rate direction is anyone’s guess 
04 Mar 2015

Regulatory B2L change is inevitable 
12 Feb 2015

Analysis: Do your homework with relationships 
04 Feb 2015

Lenders rising to the self-employed challenge 
04 Feb 2015

The sectors to watch in 2015 
06 Jan 2015

A helping hand 
05 Jan 2015

Can a landlord be truly ‘accidental’? 
17 Dec 2014

Coming in from the cold 
05 Dec 2014

Analysis: Why distribution demands inclusion 
12 Nov 2014

HSBC’s move signals cost of branch advice still rising 
20 Oct 2014

Analysis: Broker community boosted by HSBC 
15 Oct 2014

Just when I thought I was out 
08 Sep 2014

Analysis: Owning a home is not out of reach 
03 Sep 2014

Take level 4 advice exams before the FCA steps in 
02 Sep 2014

Analysis: Get set for more BoE intervention 
20 Aug 2014

Welcome to the Twilight Zone 
11 Aug 2014

Housing policy deserves seat at top table – Bob Hunt 
24 Jul 2014

MMR is enough to slow the bubble 
09 Jul 2014

Help to Buy remains in the spotlight 
08 Jul 2014

Mixed messages risk consumer confusion - Bob Hunt 
03 Jul 2014

It’s good to talk 
20 Jun 2014

H2B a rare housing policy success 
18 Jun 2014

Increasing mortgage volume will come through brokers - Bob Hunt 
27 May 2014

The better option to going direct 
14 May 2014

FCA concerned by packaging renaissance 
12 May 2014

Watch out for European regulation by year-end 
06 May 2014

Ask the Experts: Will MMR cause mass application declines? 
22 Apr 2014

Ask the Experts: Can a broker operate MMR-compliantly before 26 April? 
17 Apr 2014

Cross-sales not just for times of crisis 
16 Apr 2014

Brokers in the dock 
26 Mar 2014

Lenders in catch 22 situation over MMR - Bob Hunt 
25 Mar 2014

Paradigm launches protection arm 
21 Mar 2014

‘MMR Day’ may be a damp squib 
12 Mar 2014

Make sure your papers are in order 
12 Mar 2014

MMR lending slowdown could force protection bonanza 
18 Feb 2014

Countdown to MMR 
12 Feb 2014

A big year ahead for lenders 
04 Feb 2014

If the quality is same – why can’t AR & DA proc fees be equalised? 
30 Jan 2014

BoE is unlikely to be trigger-happy 
15 Jan 2014

We’re not in 2008 anymore 
09 Jan 2014

FCA cannot ignore views of smaller firms 
13 Dec 2013

The Prediction Game 
06 Dec 2013

Stay ahead of the regulator with CPD 
27 Nov 2013

Don’t let booming business hamper MMR preparation 
21 Nov 2013

Living up to expectations 
15 Nov 2013

MMR compliance underpins success 
30 Oct 2013

Advisers should step up to level 4 qualifications 
24 Oct 2013

Bank of England must follow words with actions 
02 Oct 2013

Lean times leave a leaner, keener core 
04 Sep 2013

If you don't ask lenders, you don't get 
22 Aug 2013

Steady as she goes is the right approach 
20 Aug 2013

Are we about to see a broker boom? 
16 Jul 2013

Now is not the time for procrastination 
10 Jul 2013

Improving standards is no grounds for complaint 
03 Jul 2013

Is product innovation being tied in knots? 
24 Jun 2013

We can’t rely on external stimulus 
06 Jun 2013

Put your services in the shop window 
06 Jun 2013

Mutual Magic 
30 May 2013

Does the FCA understand human frailty? 
07 May 2013

Has the mortgage market regained its mojo? 
17 Apr 2013

Help to Buy plus prudence equals prosperity 
05 Apr 2013

Will George Osborne be having a flutter ahead of the Budget? 
14 Mar 2013

Size matters on capital adequacy 
04 Mar 2013

Mortgage Indemnity Guarantees: helping first-time buyers fly 
19 Feb 2013

HS2? I’d rather see more houses built instead 
06 Feb 2013

95% LTV mortgages are not back... yet 
22 Jan 2013

Regulators have listened to feedback 
21 Jan 2013

The Great House Price Debate 
07 Jan 2013

Keeping your clients' wills up to date 
02 Jan 2013