Yesterday, in an article on IFA Magazine, we highlighted the responses of a number of brokers to a report which linked depression to the cost of living crisis – including mortgage worries. Included in these responses, Gary Boakes, of Salisbury-based Verve Financial, highlighted how his team were taking the matter incredibly seriously.
Gary said that “everyone at Verve Financial is now either a Mental Health first aider or going through the process at the moment.” With more and more clients likely to be struggling emotionally as well as financially, more and more brokers have been sharing their own stories of what they’re doing – how they’re going above and beyond – to support the needs of clients during these incredibly difficult times.
Gary Boakes, Director at Verve Financial, sheds further light on what the team at Verve is doing – and why – as he explains:
“Financial wellbeing has been at the core of everything we have tried to do as a mortgage business. Doing the Mental Health first aider course was something that we felt was important not only for ourselves personally as business owners but to be able to help our clients in whatever vulnerable situation they find themselves in. We’re likely to see far more people struggling with their mental health in the months ahead and so it’s really important. This has led to Michelle, the other director at Verve Financial, winning an award this year for vulnerable client care because of what we have done as a business, whether that has been working with a local charity to support abuse victims, or doing financial education talks to new recruits in the armed forces.”
Paul Neal, Mortgage and Equity Release Specialist at Missing Element Mortgage Services describes the role as sometimes being “part-broker, part-counsellor” as he comments:
“I personally am a mental health first aider. The reason for this is that, as brokers, we do find ourselves being part-broker part-counsellor at times. Purchasing a home can be a very emotional and stressful time, and the training I’ve undertaken helps me to identify that and assist our clients accordingly. We are more than just mortgage brokers, especially in the current economic climate.”
Sabrina Hall, Mortgage Adviser and Protection Adviser at Kind Financial Services, is also a fan of Mental Health training as she comments:
“This is so important even before the tricky times we are currently in. I speak with so many clients who are going through a divorce, a bereavement or other difficulties and it’s important that we can support these clients in a sensitive and professional manner. Mental health training allows me to identify where a client might need some additional support. While I have to be very clear that I’m not a counsellor and my main objective is to give my clients solid advice on their finances, you can’t ignore the fact that finances and mental health are so intertwined.”
Elliot Cotterell Windsor Hill Mortgages agrees with the need for training in Mental Health awareness and support and will be undergoing it himself as he comments:
“It’s no secret that in this economic climate, we are encountering, and will continue to encounter, clients with serious worries and concerns. Therefore we need to make sure we are equipped to handle those as best we can. Mental Health is so important to myself and many of my team for so many reasons and I’m sure this is shared across the industry as well as our clients. Identifying an issue early could help significantly and this is why I personally will be undertaking the right training in this area ahead of what could be a long and painful recession ahead.”
Alastair Hoyne, CEO at Finanze, tells us how his business has set up a Distressed Debt desk to ensure that the right support is available to the clients who need it as he explains:
“Patricia McGirr, who runs our Distressed Debt desk, is a former Mental Health Nurse who previously spent 15 years specialising in addictions and trauma. Having advised on and led numerous large public sector partnerships, she learned how to navigate policy and compliance. Integrating different political, financial and social agendas to achieve a single goal was a key requirement. Her background has enabled her to really understand and connect with people’s needs and, coupled with her experience in strategic planning and consulting, she’s able to create solutions that work for them. We knew we needed a desk to focus on this area given the impending recession three months ago, and the desk has been mostly built around Patricia’s skills and knowledge.”
Riz Malik, Director at R3 Mortgages, is seeing the link between finance and stress in his clients as he comments:
“Due to the nature of our job, clients are often already stressed when they come to us. Regardless of if they are financing a new property or remortgaging an existing one, it is usually the client’s biggest financial commitment and with that comes stress. As brokers, we can play our part in alleviating stress but there needs to be a joined-up strategy from everyone in the chain. This includes lenders, solicitors and agents.”