Over the weeks and months to come, reassurance and certainty will be equally as important for many of our clients.
In that sense, advisers find themselves in a unique position because they can provide both via much-needed advice, and are able to help deliver exactly what individuals want when it comes to their biggest financial commitment, but they can also potentially act as a conduit between borrower and lender in order to provide the necessary information that clients will be looking for.
Let’s be in no doubt that our market has, what is likely to be, a very anxious client base at present. The measures that individuals are having to take are likely to become more extreme with each passing day due to the constraints and threats resulting from COVID-19. This has had significant impact on people’s lives, their work and, in many cases, their ability to earn money – with the timeframe being talked about in months rather than weeks, it is no wonder that all kinds of borrowers will be weighing up their ability to continue paying their mortgage and their other bills through those months.
Understandably, borrowers are already looking for answers from their lenders to establish if they are eligible for the three-month mortgage payment holiday which was announced by the Chancellor and how to activate it.
Advisers can clearly work with both sides to present that information, but also having that client contact should allow them to weigh up their existing needs and circumstances, not just over the short-term but beyond that.
If there is money to be saved, then which borrower in the current climate wouldn’t welcome this? If a protection need can be satisfied – and again many borrowers are likely to be thinking long and hard about this now – then that should also be looked at. There are plenty of other financial needs that can be addressed, and advisers are clearly best placed to do this.
Our working environments may have changed recently, with working from home being the new norm, but the underlying fundamentals of the provision of advice don’t really change. It’s about making client contact, outlining the products, services, support and help you can provide, and making sure that every client gets the most suitable advice and products for their needs now and in the future. Make use of all resources to do this and ensure that your existing client base is a top priority.
It’s also important of course to look after you and yours. Many advisers are in similar boats to their clients – many are self-employed or part of a small business, they are concerned about how work might look in the months ahead, how they can maintain their services through technology, and how they can remain active, compliant and successful.
Certainly, network support for AR firms and advisers will be crucial, and if you’re not an AR, then think hard about the distributor/third-party support that is available for DAs. No adviser is an island – none of us have ever been able to do this job on our own and it’s at times like these that quality support can make all the difference.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and certainly don’t be afraid to accept it. Mortgage advisers are a community and advice should not only be given but also taken when appropriate. It’s in all our best interests to work together to get through this, and we at Stonebridge are certainly doing all we can to provide the crucial support required by brokers in the tricky period ahead.
Rob Clifford, Chief Executive of Stonebridge