It’s not every day you get to meet one of the country’s best mortgage advisors, and yet, I’ve just shaken hands with a man who is the only person in the south west to have won an industry ‘Oscar’ for best first time buyer mortgage broker. – Written by Duncan Little.
James Webster is justifiable proud of the accolade from the British Mortgage Awards, writes Duncan Little. It’s a big deal as there are more than 10,000 nominations for all the different categories.To be classed as the best in his category, across the whole country, is, frankly, amazing.
“It’s a great piece of recognition,” says James from Plymouth’s Mortgage Advice Bureau. “It’s not an award decided on a golf course but it’s one which you receive based on feedback from clients and peers. It means a lot to me following 11 years of hard work and graft.”
It’s not surprising that James is at the top of his game. Being part of Plymouth’s Mortgage Advice Bureau means there is a real focus on staff training to ensure all the team really are made of the ‘right stuff.’ 26 year old Jessica Bailey has just completed the gruelling process, which is run on a national level by the Mortgage Advice Bureau and includes four residential modules. There are exams to pass and lots of studying to complete to ensure you earn your stripes.
“You need to have the industry exams behind you so you’re more than competent and have confidence in what you’re doing,” explains Jessica. The course looks at various areas of legislation – from crime through to the European Union and regulation.
Training for Jessica included shadowing colleagues and gaining a full understanding of all the different aspects and nuances of finance – from mortgages to insurance.
Matthew Johns, Director of Plymouth Mortgage Advice Bureau, is justifiable very proud of the training scheme – which is open to people who are looking for an ‘in road’ into the mortgage industry.
Recruits can come from a variety of backgrounds and can easily apply as their own experience, unique talents and strong work ethic can add a powerful mix for the company’s DNA. Jessica’s own background had been as an apprentice for a financial firm – where she started at the age of 19. Her goal had always been to ‘move forward’ and it was her ambitious streak which led her to Plymouth’s MAB.
we like to have fresh ideas, and people, to come into the industry. so we recruit from any background
“It’s a rare training programme,” explains Matt, in his office overlooking North Hill. “There are no lender ties and we want to grow and expand.
The course may be an intensive six months but there is an additional two years of training to ensure excellence. The company deals with more than 100 lenders and there are thousands of mortgage products available to choose from. In short, there’s a lot for the staff to learn! From a client’s point of view, it’s reassuring to know your team has a full grounding of knowledge behind them. In other words, you are in safe hands when you chat through a home loan with them.Such knowledge is allowing the company to expand into a variety of strands – from increasing its on-line services to ensuring face to face contact for clients who prefer a more traditional approach to doing business.
The team’s website is due to undergo changes over the next few months to cater for the growing on-line demand from the ‘millennial’ generation. It means there will be greater choice for how you want to approach your mortgage application. You’ll be able to opt for applying for a mortgage entirely on-line which effectively allows you to ‘choose what you want.’ There’ll also be an on-line ‘pick your own mortgage but with advice’ option (which has a larger amount of guarantee attached to it as a professional helps to guide you through the mortgage maze).
You’ll also have the chance to chat with someone over Skype and, of course, you can always choose to pop in and chat with one of their friendly advisors.
“It’s a chance to create an environment where people are comfortable to move with the times but, crucially, without alienating existing clients,” explains Matt. It’s certainly true to say building relationships, and keeping them, is a key part of what Plymouth MAB is all about.
“It’s all about returning business,” explains Jessica. “It’s important as it helps to grow a client’s confidence and so establish our reputation and standing within the community. We can often help as sometimes rent payments can be more than mortgage repayments for first time buyers.”
Matt agrees and says the work at Plymouth Mortgage Advice Bureau really does make a difference for people struggling to get to grips with all the complexities of how mortgages work.
The team also help a large number of military personnel as the ‘Armed Forces Help to Buy’ scheme means you can receive up to a year’s salary as a deposit (which can be deducted as, and when, you receive a pension pay out at the end of service). The system is dependent on how many years of service you have given to the country. It is something which Plymouth MAB is keen to promote as it really can provide a massive additional boost for military families living in the area.
Clients don’t necessarily get exclusive deals from their banks, which is something we can provide
The benefits of using the Plymouth Mortgage Advice Bureau over other brokers, and banks, are clear. The size of the award winning on-site team, combined with their friendly attitude, are key ingredients to success. Crucially, their broad remit allows for greater choice.“We deal with all banks and will work hard to get the best rate for you,” says Matt.“If you go to your own bank then you are potentially gambling with the biggest purchase you will ever make.”
With so much talk on Brexit, the economy and house buying together with mortgage rates, our conversation naturally turns to what Matt and his team feel the future will hold for the Millennial generation.
“Rates are at a historic low and I think they will stay low for a long time. The economy is not strong enough for them to go up. Inflation is going to increase so I can’t see there being any difference to where they are now. Brexit has, so far, been good for the housing market as rates have got cheaper which means mortgages are cheaper too.”
The smile on Jessica’s face shows her delight at having trained in one of the best mortgage practices in the UK – her career sees her working with estate agents in the Torbay area for four days a week.Matt puts the success of his team down to sheer hard work and focus. He believes in trusting your instincts. “If you make a decision, even if in the short term it doesn’t look right, stick with it. You have to see it through, even if, initially, it causes issues in the short term. It’s a key point for investment.”
This ethos has shown both short terms and long term gain for the firm as its investment in a comprehensive training programme for Jessica and other key members of staff, has paid off in spades! It’s something which is already paying dividends for the firm, the team and, most importantly, the clients themselves.
Call: 01752 204000 | Visit: mabsouthwest.co.uk | Find us : Farrer House ,73 North Hill Plymouth, PL4 8HB