Mention the word ‘consultant’ and what comes to mind is usually a person in suit and tie making a presentation to a group of high level corporate executives. It turns out that consultants may not necessarily be a corporate warrior contributing to the bottom line of MNCs. There is a different type of consultant that helps the man on the street with the most important purchase of their life, property. Mortgage consultants , which is what they are called, are paid for their expertise in helping home owners secure the best home loan in town, and consequentially huge monthly savings.
If you have not heard of term ”mortgage consultants” before, do not be alarmed. It is a trade that is just picking up in Singapore. In other side of the world, however, the situation is different. Close to 70% of all residential loans in the United States are brokered through a mortgage consultant. According to a 2004 study by Wholesale Access Mortgage Research & Consulting, Inc., there are a whopping 53,000 mortgage brokerage companies that employ an estimated 418,700 employees. Suffice to say, it is a norm to have one’s mortgage taken care of by an intermediary which is mortgage consultant or broker in the States.
In case you are wondering, mortgage consultants are not salespeople either. Instead of selling home loan products, they serve as an advisor in the process of consumers getting a home loan from a bank. Interestingly, mortgage consultants enjoy the same perks as salespeople, such as the performance -based unlimited income potential as well as flexible working hours. They can even be likened to self employed individuals without a boss. Sounds too good to be true ?
Well, you have to check it out yourself! We are privileged to speak to someone in the trenches. Alan hails from the one of the biggest mortgage advisory firm in Singapore, Redbrick Mortgage Advisory and serves as the associate director there.
Note: Mortgage consultant, mortgage advisor, mortgage broker are terms used interchangeably through the interview that means the same thing.
DS(Digital Senior): What exactly does a mortgage advisor do ?
Alan: A mortgage advisor advises a client on the loan aspects of a property purchase and/or property refinancing. We also advise clients on the latest and lowest interest rates offered by the various banks in Singapore and recommend them a bank package that is most suitable for them.
In our role, we meet up with the client, handle all the paperwork that revolves around a loan application, liaise with the banker on the client’s behalf and advise clients on issues that surface in regards to documentation or MAS property lending guidelines.
A property loan can potentially be a very complicated process and our main role is to simplify the loan process for the client.
DS: Is it an office job ? How is the working life like ?
Alan: It is not an office job where you are “stuck” in a desk. Majority of the time, we are outside having appointments and meeting clients.
DS: Why did you choose to be a mortgage advisor ?
Alan: I loved working in banking but over time I became disillusioned with the long working hours and a sense of personal unfulfillment from being “stuck” in an office desk.
I wanted a role where I could put my banking knowledge to use and have the freedom to dictate my working hours. Being a mortgage advisor allowed me the opportunity to experience both.
“Over time I became disillusioned with the long working hours and a sense of personal unfulfillment from being “stuck” in an office desk”
DS: What were u doing before?
Alan: I was a commercial banking relationship manager with DBS. I managed a portfolio of companies that report an annual turnover of between S$20 million to S$200 million. My role was to monitor their existing bank commitments and to assist them with loan financing to grow their business.
DS: How much can you earn as a mortgage consultant ?
Alan: A performing mortgage advisor can earn a five figure monthly income.
DS: We hear stories of bankers that earn good money but break down after a while due to exhaustion. How is your working hours like ?
Alan: My working hours are flexible, meaning it is up to me to dictate how many hours I want to work. On a typical week day, I start at 930am and can end late at night. Most of my appointments are during my clients’ lunch hours or in the evenings when they come back from work. At times, I even work on weekends as that could be the only time when my clients are available. That said, if I needed to scale back due to family/personal commitments, I can do so.
DS: What do you like about your job ?
Alan: I enjoy the interaction and relationship building with my clients. To many of them, a property is the largest purchase/investment that they would make in their lifetime and for the majority, this loan will last for 25-30 years. To be able to advise them on all aspects of the loan makes it meaningful for them and myself.
DS: What are you passionate about ?
Alan: I am very passionate about backpacking to other countries. For me, there is nothing more fulfilling that slinging on a backpack, flying to a country, figuring the country’s history and culture, and understanding how the local people live their lives.
DS: How does your job fulfill your passion ?
Alan: In my previous jobs, even if I have the money to travel, I don’t have the time.
In those times, if I leave my work for a couple of days, I would be swamped when I get back. Not to mention that when I’m away, my covering buddy has to take over my duties. So there is always that guilt when you go away for long periods of time.
As my previous jobs are sales related, my annual KPI will be affected when I choose to take leave. There is a lot of pressure from my ex-bosses not to go away for a long period of time.
In Redbrick, everything is different. It’s achievable to earn good money and yet have time to spend on.
DS: What are the career advancement opportunities being a mortgage advisor?
Alan: There are currently two career advancement routes that a mortgage advisor can take. One is to focus on personal sales and building up your own portfolio of clients. Once a client engages us to advise them on their property loan, we would contact them two years later to review their case. This review is to advise them if it would be beneficial for them to refinance or to stay with the same bank. If the relationship is handled well, the client will likely stick with you for as long as they have a property loan.
The other career advancement is to go into management and mentor a team of mortgage advisors. The mentoring role would be to guide them on the ropes of being a mortgage advisor, sharing knowledge on the loan credit guidelines from the different banks etc.
DS: What does it take to be an excellent mortgage advisor ?
Alan: The ability to actively listen to a client’s needs. Mortgage can be a very complicated subject and most clients who are unaware of the terms used in mortgage may not be able to effectively communicate what they require. We therefore have to actively listen and at many times ask questions to find out what they require.
DS: How to be certified as a mortgage advisor ?
Alan: Currently there is no certificate required to be a mortgage advisor. But here at Redbrick, we have created a course for interested parties to be trained as a competent mortgage advisor. We even issue a certificate upon successful completion of the course.
DS: What is your biggest takeaway after all these years as a mortgage advisor ?
Alan: My biggest takeaway is there is always something to learn from anybody.This career provides the opportunity to meet and learn from clients who come from all walks of life. My clients range from HDB flat owners to people who owns multiple properties, and during my meetups with them, I always try to find an experience that they can share with me.
DS: What advice would you give to people considering this career ?
Alan: You have to be professional and personally committed in this career. There is a lot of responsibility when a client chooses to engage our service. For them, a property is their largest purchase/investment and any misstep on our part may cause them to make a purchase commitment without getting the appropriate loan amount they require.
Last but not least
Hopefully, this interview has opened your eyes to a different type of career possibility in sunny Singapore. It is probably the only job that stands at the cross section of property and finance in Singapore. As banks offer more loan packages to attract consumers, Singapore’s mortgage trade is expected to go on an upward trajectory.
If you are someone who likes to give advice , take control of your own time and have maximum mobility, you may be cut out to be a mortgage consulant! Ultimately, everyone around you purchases a property at some point in their life, and as a mortgage consultant, you will be able to extend a helping hand to your loved ones!