Advisers head into uncharted territory

Mortgage advisers are changing their business models amid the coronavirus outbreak, and diversifying ahead of a downturn in the housing market.

Tuesday, March 24th 2020, 7:31AM

Weeks into the Covid-19/coronavirus outbreak, market activity is expected to grind to a halt as cases continue to grow in New Zealand. 

Yesterday, the government pushed New Zealand to a level 3 response level, closing down "non-essential" businesses, schools, and child care.

Adviser businesses have shifted to online and remote working models to continue working through the crisis. They say customers are making enquiries about changing their loan structures as the economy comes to a standstill.

Glen McLeod of Edge Mortgages says his business is "geared to operate from home" as long as necessary. 

"Our team will be still able to complete all the normal functions and we will do a lot more Skype calls," McLeod says. 

Edge has been in contact with NZFSG to discuss customers' requests. 

"We are waiting to hear back on things like changing from principal and interest to floating payments and the protocols on how to deal with requests," he adds.

McLeod adds: "To us it’s about helping our clients through this time and either allaying fears or putting things in place to enable a degree of stress to be relieved. As an industry we are all in this together. The greater service we can provide our clients in times like these shows the value in having a financial adviser.

With fewer sales, auctions and new listings in the market, adviser businesses will also be looking at their bottom line. 

Geoff Bawden, director of Q Group, says it is "time for advisers to be closely monitoring cashflow". 

"They should also have a clear understanding about the primary sources of income which for many will come from within their existing client base," Bawden says. "Those who have established strong customer relationships and are proactive at managing them will do best. It is never too late to start."

Bawden believes it is time for aggregator groups "to step up to the plate and earn their keep": "They need to be working closely with their advisers to help them manage their business."

Bawden says Q Group has "contingencies in place" if any of its members need to self-isolate in the coming weeks. 

Stephen Wilton, of The Advice Group, believes the adverse market conditions can create opportunities for the sector to show its worth. 

"It's times like these that clients really appreciate a quality adviser. There is still effectively 60% of the market who deal direct who could do with our advice. The workflow might not be new-purchase-market driven but the review-restructure-refinance market comes even more alive," he adds.

"Setting clients up now to handle the next 12 months will pay huge dividends, as eventually the rest of the world will work out that we have actually got it pretty good here," Wilton adds.

Tags: Lending Mortgage Advisers Q Group

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