In Focus: Profitable advice business  

Broker retrains 40 'career changers' as it vows to double in size

Broker retrains 40 'career changers' as it vows to double in size
'We try to do things a little differently from other broker firms,' says CEO Wilkinson

Mortgage and protection broker Access Financial Services has grown to 100 brokers in five years after welcoming 40 brokers from outside the profession.

The firm, which was founded by chief executive Karl Wilkinson as a one-man band in April 2017 has since retrained dozens of people with varied backgrounds, such as engineering, the police, the armed forces and a taxi driver.

It has now set itself a target of growing to 200 brokers, and to help these achieve six-figure earnings each.

Wilkinson said his growth strategy rests on offering a broad product palette, ranging from vanilla mortgages to specialist products such as bridging finance, and on Access Financial Services' in-house academy, which prepares recruits for their CeMAP exams, teaching them how to provide advice.

Wilkinson said: “It’s a great achievement that we have managed to attract one hundred advisers to join us in just five years from a complete standing start.  

"We try to do things a little differently from other broker firms, creating a collaborative environment for brokers to help each other rather than competing with each other. There really is plenty of business out there to go round."

'Busy as ever'

The mortgage industry has been booming despite the pandemic, which put an initial halt to the market in March 2020. 

After that, chancellor Rishi Sunak implemented a temporary break on the stamp duty, which created a buoyant market and sent house prices spiralling upwards.

But the outlook on the housing market has changed since, as the rising cost of living has started to affect potential buyers and the cost of borrowing is rising sharply due to rising interest rates.

Wilkinson said the mortgage market was still strong. "Our brokers are as busy as ever and in many cases even busier," he said. 

"With rising interest rates and inflation people are looking to secure their finances and one of the first places they look is their mortgage.

"Even those whose fixed rate deals are not yet finished are looking to the future. The housing market is still buoyant, I haven't seen any signs of things slowing significantly."

He said the Financial Policy Committee's recent decision to remove the affordability rules for lenders meant there was likely to be more wiggle room for borrowers and lender appetite would remain high.  

"I see no issues in the short term and, although our plans may be ambitious, I don’t foresee any problems in achieving them."

Half of Access's brokers are specialist protection brokers, and the other half advise on mortgages and protection. 

Access also holds general insurance permissions, meaning its brokers have the option to offer products such as holiday and car insurance.

The brokerage wants to achieve its growth targets by broadening the number of products its brokers can offer and by providing business growth support and training "beyond product knowledge".