As the world seemingly lurches from one crisis to another, pressures at work grow and your clients’ expectations and demands increase, it can be easy to get overwhelmed.
That’s why it’s so important for you as a mortgage broker to think about your mental health and take steps to ensure a healthy work-life balance. That can make a big difference both to you and your clients, helping you deliver the best possible service every day and enjoy greater happiness and wellbeing.
But according to the Mortgage Industry Mental Health Charter’s mental health and wellbeing report, 23 per cent of mortgage brokers believe their mental health is either 'poor' or 'of concern'.
In our mind, that highlights two major problems for the industry. Firstly, brokers are under considerable pressure at work, and secondly, many don’t know how or where to get the mental health support that they need.
That’s why we wanted to look not only at what factors might be fuelling this problem, but also at what you can do to look after your mental health, both in the short and long term.
According to the MIMHC report, 55 per cent of mortgage brokers are working more than the recommended weekly guidance, while a staggering 13 per cent work 60 hours or more every week. In addition, one in four brokers admit they never get the recommended amount of sleep in any given week.
These figures clearly point to a wider culture of working excessive hours and not getting enough rest. In that context, the very idea of taking time off can seem shameful, with rest and relaxation almost becoming dirty words.
But this can only be harmful both to you and your clients. How can you possibly be in a position to effectively cope with the stresses and strains of your job if you’re exhausted and physically and mentally burnt out? You can’t, and both you and your clients could maybe suffer.
The notion that you can’t afford to or shouldn’t spend time relaxing, looking after yourself and switching off from work because you’re in a busy job is untrue, harmful, and ultimately counterproductive.
When you look at the number of hours mortgage brokers often work, it’s unsurprising that the same study shows a growing number are considering their options. According to the MIMHC research, the number of brokers who are disillusioned and considering their options has gone up from ten per cent to fourteen per cent.
We all want our industry to attract and retain the very best people, so prospective clients can see beyond doubt the value and benefits that we can offer.
So it’s incumbent on us all to try to tackle this damaging culture and make time for healthy diversions, from getting a good night’s sleep and enjoying creative pastimes to spending time in nature and connecting with family and friends. Manage your time carefully, with clear distinctions between work and leisure time, and you’ll find both are more satisfying and fulfilling as a result.
If you want more hints, tips and insights and about switching off, you might find the following Growth Series articles helpful:
Manage client expectations
A mortgage broker’s workload is often added to by the sheer weight of client expectations.
As Scott Howitt, sales director at Chartwell Mortgage Services, says: “Brokers make themselves very accessible to their clients, be that through emails, WhatsApp or social media as buyers don’t want to lose out on their property. Brokers are integral to that, so they are wired to the grid and the expectations are high.”
With that in mind, brokers should make sure they only promise what they can realistically deliver. Don’t be afraid to delegate certain tasks to your team if necessary, and if you can’t do so, set reasonable deadlines and keep the client informed.
Simply making sure they’re in the loop and know what’s going on can make a big difference, as they’ll have realistic and accurate expectations of what you can deliver and when, rather than chase you at unsociable hours expecting an instant response.
For more information on engaging with and delighting your clients, read our Growth Series article: 6 ideas to delight your clients.
The impact of changing market conditions
So far, we’ve discussed the culture in the mortgage broker sector and client expectations, but changes in the wider marketplace can’t be dismissed either.
Although the mortgage sector has always been an evolving, rapidly changing industry, brokers have had a lot to deal with in recent years, which has almost certainly contributed to many working longer hours.
For example, brokers are having to deal with product changes made by lenders, as well as the consequences of a worsening economic climate. Although the housing market has been buoyant in the last few years, even in the face of a global pandemic, we’re seeing interest rates creeping up following many years of historically low interest rates.
The Bank of England recently raised interest rates once again to 1.25 per cent, and hinted that further increases could be on the horizon, saying it would “act forcefully” if inflation continues to rise. And that’s making the mortgage market difficult to navigate for uncertain property owners and buyers.
As Nicola Firth of Knowledge Bank, a signatory to MIMHC, says: “Frustrations on behalf of clients both trying to secure rates and get cases through could well be contributing to stress.”
Progress being made, but more needs to be done
According to the MIMHC study, 48 per cent of brokers believe the mental health support available to them at work has improved in recent years. But at the same time, 52 per cent say there is either no mental health strategy in their workplace at all, or that they don’t know of any.
That suggests that while some progress is being made in getting the support and advice to those who need it, there is still some way to go.
Thankfully, this is something that is well within the power of mortgage broker businesses to deal with, if there is the will and desire to take meaningful action, and these steps don’t have to be prohibitively expensive either.
For instance, why not teach members of the team how to better manage their time and encourage healthy habits such as a good diet, plenty of physical exercise and a proper sleep?
As Nicola Firth of Knowledge Bank rightly points out: “Sometimes the smallest of changes can make the biggest difference."
For more insights on the human and business case for looking after yourself, read our Growth Series article: Wellbeing for profitability.
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