Hi, Thanks for calling by. I shall begin in the style of all the best meetings!
My name is George and I’m a retired broker. This site is owned by my daughter who lets me do the writing as long as I don’t try to fiddle with the layout or do anything vaguely technical. my dog, Premium, is a cross breed, but he doesn’t usually stay cross for long.
Before I got my first job in insurance, I am pretty certain I had given the subject no thought whatsoever. Back then I don’t think it mattered, as when a need for insurance or a mortgage cropped up it was dealt with, usually with a chat at the bank or with the insurance guy who collected money at the door every four weeks from my dad. Today is very different, there’s a danger of information overload from various media and the ability to do your own research, which is now taken for granted, was almost non existent in the eighties and before. I’ve tried looking at today’s marketplace through the eyes of the current generation and find myself asking where would I go to find answers to my mortgage questions and what is insurance.? I think the pendulum has swung from little and poor information to vast and frustrating information.
Where to start before you get started…
The biggest change I have seen is the creation and constant development of regulation and the drive toward qualified practitioners. In fact, we are now at the stage where the question you MUST ask before you actually ask any questions, is whether the person you are speaking to can actually advise you. Most of us can accept that when we buy a financial product online, nobody has actually advised us to do so. We complete an online form, press “submit” and we are presented with a series of results from which we choose the one we want. Dealing with a broker is a little more complicated. Simply put, any broker that arranges products with an investment element has to be qualified to advise on them. Any broker that arranges products without an investment element doesn’t. That is ridiculously simplistic and there are a number of exceptions, but its not a bad rule of thumb.
There is no point using a broker that doesn’t advise!
Most of my life was spent broking in some way or another, so it’s with a little reluctance I am writing this, but the current marketplace is such that I genuinely believe that there is no point in using a broker that is not authorised to advise you on what you are doing. The advent of the internet has changed the way we buy insurance beyond recognition and, I think, for the better. If you have a straightforward car or house insurance need, then it it is impossible to argue against using an online provider. You won’t usually get any advice, but it doesn’t matter. All the online providers have more than adequate help sections to get you over any jargon and most offer some form of “live chat” or even telephone support. They pretty much all offer a 24/7 claims service and from what I have seen their levels of customer service score highly.
The effect on the non advising high street broker is marked. Aviva, who I have never regarded as being great on the predicting the future front, seems to have got it right when they closed their Hill House Hammond high street broking business some years ago. There are still high street providers for car and household business, but they are mainly non advised, use panels or are a franchise. The staff have authority to offer, sometimes illogical, discounts, but cannot offer a qualified opinion on what is the best product for you. In the main, they seem to be the financial BHS and Woolworths of the high street, and will probably go the same way.
Fortunately, the brokers that will thrive will do so by going down one of two routes (or perhaps both!). They will either be specialists for a particular niche and will offer quality advice on particular trades or areas such as specialist motor, charities or hospitality, or they will become Chartered and will advise on products that are commensurate with their qualifications.
If I was starting out in business today and my insurance premium was going to be over £1500 I would only use a Chartered broker or a specialist broker who understood the area I was working in.
My career has covered many areas including insurance, investments and mortgages. There are others, and I may well touch on them in due course. I have worked for large companies, small companies and had my own business, as well as running businesses on behalf of others. The purpose of this blog is not to give advice on specific products. Rather, my purpose is partly to demystify some of the aspects of the insurance, mortgage and finance world, but primarily…
My purpose is to help you ask the right questions in order to then get the best advice.
Experience has taught me that most people’s dealings with advisers and companies in the financial world could have been so much better with a little more preparation and knowing what questions to ask. When I arranged my first mortgage for a client, it is likely that a month beforehand, the client hadn’t even thought of buying a house. Today, I would suggest, it is in your best interest to start thinking about getting a mortgage several years before you want one!
No matter what you do as a job, your age or financial circumstances, you will encounter one or many financial institutions. My aim is to help you by making you aware of the questions you should ask so you get the best from dealing with lenders, insurers and a whole raft of related companies and intermediaries. I will also try and give some tips and ideas that I hope will make the process of dealing with financial companies a little easier.
Now, back to the main topic, I’m really looking forward to helping you to get to the point where you can approach a financial institution armed with, at the very least, some of the the right questions, which in turn should get you the right answers.