Wishes can sometimes seem like requests well beyond our grasp, but my view is that everything I want for the market and, in particular, advisers is achievable. It just needs those concerned to recognise the need and have the will to do it.
So, first up, let’s deal with product transfers – undoubtedly a growing part of our market. Currently, we only have one major lender paying a full procuration fee to advisers on product transfers – that needs to change. Lenders have an example to follow and my hope is that in 2020 the rest follow it.
Secondly, it’s all about the technology. 2020 needs to be the year that we finally deliver to the adviser market a pragmatic and substantial solution to e-trading with lenders. Our own Revolution system, for example, is API-ready but lenders are at varying stages of capability – they need to prioritise this and utilise the tech we have to its fullest.
Thirdly, we need to address the issue of making our sector a more attractive (and easier) industry to join. That means a far greater level of promotion in schools, colleges and universities, and a greater focus on academies to harness the next generation of advisers. We do not have the same problem as the IFA market, which has a very old adviser demographic – Stonebridge’s average adviser age is 44 – but we do need to put in place a better system to attract new blood.
Finally, and perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s a hope that UK politics finally secures a new normality and there is a degree of stabilisation. I’m writing this before the General Election result is known but the uncertainty has gone on for too long. We need consumers to feel confident they can get on with their lives, and in the mortgage/housing sense, this means being able to move home or remortgage to do whatever they want with their properties.
I’m not predicting a huge wave of new business from the so-called pent-up demand in the mortgage market but I’m quite sure that a significant number of potential mortgage customers have been ‘holding on’. It would be nice to create the political environment necessary to allow them to make those decisions.
That’s not too much to wish for, is it?