Firing Line: Instrinic's Gemma Harle

Firing Line: Instrinic's Gemma Harle

It was almost a month into her new role when Gemma Harle met with Financial Adviser, that she finally stopped carrying the group's welcome pack detailing, among many things, Old Mutual Wealth's organisational structure.

It is not surprising, considering the big changes ahead.

As head of the mortgage network arm of Intrinsic Financial Services division, she has joined at a time when Old Mutual Wealth is being split apart from its parent firm and is gearing up for a rebrand and a float.

This has not slowed her plans, as networks face new and evolving threats.

One of the matters high on her list of priorities is helping her advisers beat fraudsters and money launderers.

Ms Harle said: “Fraudsters have shifted their approach in recent years and the kinds of frauds reported by the FCA are increasingly sophisticated.

“With these schemes on the rise it is crucial that mortgage brokers have controls in place to prevent their clients losing their hard-earned money. It is not just the adviser, but the advice that is involved." 

She said that the mortgage network constantly has to make sure it is prepared against money laundering, "because the fraudsters are getting very sophisticated and property is quite intrinsically linked to money laundering”.

Ms Harle joined from rival advice network Tenet Lime and has the big job of ensuring Intrinsic’s mortgage and protection division gains more prominence. Following a strategic review in January 2017, Intrinsic Group launched a refreshed business model with three core operating channels: a wealth network, a mortgage network and a wealth national channel.

The wealth network is overseen by Steve Fryett who works closely with Ms Harle. The separate mortgage network was launched to give greater focus and support to its advisers.

The latest publicly available records showed the network had 1,564 brokers by the end of June 2017 – an increase from the 1,499 advisers it had at the end of 2014.

Ms Harle said: “What excites me about Intrinsic is the ambition. Wealth is very dominant in the business, and for the right reasons. There might be a perception we are not as important, but we write shed loads of business, which is important to the Intrinsic model.”

Robotic threat

Seeking opportunities for new products and helping advisers face the threat of robo-advice are among the actions the network has on its to-do list this year.

“Brokers are looking for help with technology and how they can generate more leads,” Ms Harle said. “They also want access to a wider variety of providers; not just lenders. They want access to conveyancers and all the bolt-on stuff, because of the way they are trying to service the customer.”

Growth areas this year, she predicts, will come from first-time buyers and larger commercial buy-to-let businesses.

Early indications show amateur landlords are starting to bail out, due to tax changes. That means they are selling properties, enabling first-time buyers to enter the market.