Continuous streams of new people to the mortgage industry ask me the difference between a mortgage adviser and a mortgage broker. Many don't see the difference but believe me, there is.
CeMAP was invented for the mortgage adviser. She worked in a bank or lender and advised the right mortgage for customers. Fully regulated, she ensures the client's identified needs are taken down and used as evidence to recommend the most suitable mortgage.
That's the world of the adviser; the realm of the broker extends beyond this. They must naturally advise the right mortgage product and loan for the client, but they must also broke the marketplace. Find the right lender, the right product from myriad sources, which we call Whole of Market.
They are faced with complex cases, difficult ones, tricky situations. Nothing is simple; everything is unusual or challenging. Mostly the adviser in the bank dealt with relatively straightforward issues that fitted the bank's criteria. Anything out of the ordinary was filtered out.
So this now begs the question, if CeMAP was created for advisers, what qualification is there for brokers? Arguably none, although many contend the advanced mortgage diplomas are relevant. I agree partially but not entirely.
The knowledge needed by a modern broker is continually evolving and changing. An exam can't keep up, but at least it's a start.
Here's how you learn:
This kind of lending is just plain complex; you need to know a lot about the sector and its lenders. Set your learning goals to master the areas; for example, next year, you might state that you want to master Holiday Let lending and commercial and semi-commercial finance. Then set your plan to learn it.
You can learn it with advanced exams, general googling and YouTubing. But the best sources are the lenders involved in the sector. They make it their role to educate brokers because they want you to be knowledgeable when you're talking about the area with clients.
For example, the Holiday Let marketplace is growing exponentially at the moment. Specific lenders specialise in this area and go beyond the call of duty to educate brokers with webinars, seminars, BDM briefings, PDF downloads, podcasts, etc. Hook up with your BDM, get to know them and allow them to educate you. The good ones are not running around buying you doughnuts and drinks but putting on beneficial educational webinars to teach you all about holiday let mortgages. The Cumberland, the Saffron, the Leeds – they all help.
Mortgage Clubs are another handy source. They make their money by bringing lenders to you and pick off a cut in your proc fee, so they're more than happy to educate you and bring in some specialist training to help you. The general training department from your network or broker firm is probably more generalist than a specialist; beware of this.
Difficult and Awkward Cases
Some lenders handle these, but most decentralised lenders will be flexible with their lending and some building societies. The big banks are less so. To learn how to place a case, that's just plain awkward and outside standard criteria cannot be learnt from CeMAP.
You need to appreciate that these cases can be placed by encouraging the lender to be flexible with the advertised criteria. So search engines may not help; they might just steer you. You'll want to get to know some really good internal BDMs who have the ear of underwriters and can put a case by case proposition through to their lending team.
Try mastering a quality search engine that doesn't just use rates and LTVs. One that uses more esoteric criteria. Get to know your lender's criteria and hubs where you can find out more. Know the lenders who are going to listen to your case. Speak to other brokers and colleagues that can help. It really is a case of learning as you go here. You can't set a goal to get good at awkward cases; you just deal with them and learn on the job.
The final point. Suppose you niche and specialise in your business marketing and positioning. In that case, you may never have to deal with awkward or difficult cases. They're no fun, take up enormous amounts of your time trying to place them, and you probably earn the same amount as a standard case. Lenders are happy to bend the criteria occasionally, but not in every case you submit; you'll soon get a reputation.
Remember to market yourself well and specialise. Otherwise, you'll become a reactive broker who responds to incoming business, which invariable will give you tricky and problematic cases all the time. Time-consuming, hard work and not particularly rewarding.
It's a specialist proposition that you want to go to as a broker.