Network launch article – Feb 2021

Steve Swyny, Commercial Director at F4B

Building a new arm of any business is a daunting task at any time. In light of lingering economic uncertainty, operational challenges and having to develop relationships remotely, you could be forgiven for thinking that launching a new network may not be the most obvious step in the current marketplace. However, even in the most challenging times, opportunity is always there if you look hard enough.

Like many good ideas, this developed from a simple base – demand from our existing intermediary partners who were looking for that bit more support. That’s not to say it’s been easy. The intermediary market has long been a bastion of face-to-face advice and we’ve all had to learn new skills and embrace different types of technological challenges along the way. When it comes to distributors, whether this be packagers, mortgage clubs or networks, adding value has always been important but this is a real must in the current marketplace – as is having a real point of difference.

The network space remains a highly competitive one and it will be interesting to see how and where we can make the most impact. We know that the specialist mortgage markets will continue rising to the fore to meet the needs of a growing number of people who are largely being ignored by mainstream and high-street lenders. The continued fallout from the pandemic will obviously play a major role across the mortgage market. Factors such as furlough, mortgage payment holidays, increased credit blips and a rise in CCJ’s mean that the reliance on specialist lenders will only escalate.

As such, advisers need to ensure they are in a position to provide access to the types of solutions which can make a real difference for borrowers whose circumstances have been impacted by recent events. Not to mention those professional investors, landlords and developers who are primed to take advantage of the property-related opportunities which will inevitably emerge.

Experience and strength of lender relationships is vital across the specialist markets and having these in place can open more doors to this type of business, as well as ensuring that all mainstream lending bases are covered. With huge costs associated with rising FSCS and FCA levies and PI premiums going through the roof, many DA’s are being forced to think twice. Different types of networks will work for different types of advisers, but it’s clear that DAs and ARs should constantly evaluate their options to ensure they are working with the right partner who is investing heavily in the development process and looking to grow with them. And the right option is certainly out there if they look hard enough.