How to stop being a busy fool – work smarter, not harder

Melanie Spencer, Business Partnership and Growth Director at One Mortgage System (OMS) —

Back in December 2023, we saw some fairly depressing figures emerge from UK Finance on how it expected the mortgage market to perform in 2024. We don’t need to highlight these figures again as I’m sure we’ve all fully aware of them but on the back of activity levels over the first six weeks of 2024, I’m cautiously optimistic that these predictions may have been on the more conservative side.

I say this after multiple conversations with people across the industry who have all stated how busy they have been since returning from a festive break which now seems like a decade ago. It’s crucial to contextualise this shift as January 2024 has marked a notable increase in market activity, presenting both opportunities and challenges for intermediaries.

Much of this activity seems to have spilled over from what was a strong Q4 performance, especially in terms of market sentiment. This was emphasised in recent data from the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA) which outlined growing confidence as the quarter progressed. In total, 76% of intermediaries said they were confident about the outlook for the market in September, falling to 69% in October but then rising to 83% by December. Of the 83%, 21% were ‘very confident’ with the overall ‘confident’ figure for the quarter reaching 74%, a marked improvement on Q4 2022, when 65% said they were confident about the future for the mortgage industry.

Confidence levels in intermediaries’ own businesses were even higher, with 92% of intermediaries describing themselves as ‘confident’ in the outlook for their own firms in Q4 2023. In addition, the average number of mortgage cases placed by intermediaries on an annual basis increased to 95 per year, compared to 92 in Q3. Mortgage brokers were suggested to have placed an average of 103 cases, while IFAs reported an average of 62.

As a result, IMLA predicts that intermediaries will account for 89% of all mortgage business written this year, which represents a hugely significant figure. So how can the intermediary market better chart this positive underlying sentiment and turn this market share into increased revenue and business growth?

It’s important for intermediaries to navigate through these changes with strategies to help them adapt, optimise their workflows, and achieve greater efficiency amidst the heightened demands of the mortgage industry.

The first place to start is by evaluating, or reevaluating, internal processes to ensure efficiencies are being maximised throughout pre, during and post advice procedures, especially from a tech standpoint.

For example, whilst you may think that January 2024 is significantly busier than January 2023, do you know this for a fact or is this simply based on assumption and perception from 12 months previously? Do you know what type of business was being written in this month last year compared to now? Or even in Q3 and Q4 2023? Do you know how long each case is taking? Do you have a record of which lenders have been used; how many DIPs have been processed, the conversion rate from DIPs to completion and for what type of case?

Well, it would certainly be beneficial to understand where you are being efficient, or where you are being a busy fool. Coincidentally, these are answers that a good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system should be able to provide at any given time.

Generating this kind of data and insights will help firms to get to grips with their current business practices, appreciate exactly how busy they actually are, see where their time is being spent and help identify any underlying market trends on which to focus on the coming weeks and months.

It’s all about being better informed across all areas of the front and back-office to help highlight and combat any inefficiencies whilst also pinpointing opportunities in a cost-effective manner. And with the market likely to continue picking up, there is no time to lose if you’re thinking about switching CRM providers or using a CRM for the first time.

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