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Intermediary firms expanding amidst labour market challenges

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Almost four in 10 (38%) mortgage intermediary companies are expanding their operations, amidst a backdrop of labour market challenges, according to Paragon Bank research.

Paragon’s survey of over 330 brokers found that amongst firms that indicated that they are expanding, increasing headcounts is the most common way to bolster resource, with just under half, 48%, looking to take on experienced advisers.

As part of the research, undertaken for Paragon’s Mortgage Intermediary Insight Report, brokers revealed how their recruitment was motivated by a desire for knowledgeable staff who can hit the ground running, as well as diversification into more complex markets.

Three in 10 of the firms adding extra resource are recruiting trainee advisers to support their long-term growth aspirations and a quarter are hiring paraplanners to assist advisers with administrative tasks.

A considerably smaller proportion of mortgage broker businesses, only 7%, report scaling back

Richard Rowntree, Managing Director for Mortgages at Paragon Bank said: “It’s really encouraging to see intermediary firms expanding, it gives a good indication of the strength of the market and could be viewed as a reflection of the more positive outlook for this year.”

Brokers have noted recruitment challenges however, with a third reporting that it is fairly difficult to attract new staff and a further 31% deeming it to be very difficult, while 5% say it is very easy, rising to 19% amongst those who consider increasing headcount to be fairly easy.

To overcome this hurdle, some firms are focusing on upskilling initiatives for their existing workforce, with nearly half of firms taking part in the research having already implemented or planning to implement such programmes.

This strategic shift towards internal talent development is also supported by investment in non-personnel resource, the most popular being additional technology and enhanced marketing, selected by 31% and 30% of companies currently growing.  

Rowntree added: “While I’m aware of the difficulty for those looking to take on experienced advisers, in line with data pointing to a tightening of the broader labour market in the UK, it’s reassuring to see that firms are mitigating any resource shortfalls by developing existing employees or investing in marketing and technology.

“Doing so will help to ensure that there is a wealth of talent available, both now and in future, to support borrowers with sound financial advice to guide their investment strategies.”  .

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Notes to editors:

BVA BDRC surveyed 337 mortgage intermediaries in November 2023 on behalf of Paragon Bank.

Paragon lends to private individuals and limited companies and provides mortgages suitable for single, self-contained properties, as well as HMOs and multi-unit blocks. Paragon can accommodate higher aggregate lending limits and more complex letting arrangements including local authority leases and corporate leases along with standard ASTs.

Paragon Bank PLC a subsidiary of the Paragon Banking Group PLC which is a FTSE 250 company based in Solihull in the West Midlands. Established in 1985, Paragon Banking Group PLC has over £14 billion of assets under management, helping more than 340,000 customers to achieve their ambitions.