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How to become a mortgage broker

A step-by-step guide to qualifying as a mortgage adviser

Can you see yourself helping first-time buyers secure their dream home, advising homeowners on the best remortgage deals, guiding people higher up the housing ladder, and even enabling older people to access more money in retirement? The role of a mortgage broker is more diverse than you may think, and many homebuyers remember their broker as one of the people who helped them the most.

If this rewarding career sounds like it might be for you, read on.

What’s the difference between a mortgage adviser and a mortgage broker?

This is a good question, and it has a simple answer: nothing. It is simply a matter of personal preference whether you call yourself an adviser or a broker. Some firms describe themselves as mortgage advisers, others as mortgage brokers, but both do the same jobs and in a similar way.

The key difference is between ‘tied’ and ‘independent’ advisers and brokers. If you are tied, you are limited to certain providers and can only recommend their products. For example, you may work for a bank, building society or a particular lender. In this scenario, one is essentially a salesperson – albeit a helpful and well-informed one. But tied brokers cannot offer unbiased advice, which is why they are not listed on Unbiased.

An independent mortgage broker, on the other hand, can advise on the entire market and so find the very best deals available for each of their customers. This is the kind of mortgage broker who is listed on Unbiased.

What does a mortgage broker do?

A mortgage adviser or broker helps people access and choose the most suitable mortgages based on their circumstances and goals. Typical work includes:

  • Helping first-time buyers secure their first mortgage
  • Finding deals for those looking to remortgage or upsize
  • Helping older people release equity from their homes
  • Other mortgage advice (e.g. what to do in cases of divorce, finding mortgage insurance etc.)

Day to day, a mortgage broker will:

  • Learn more about each customer’s finances and personal circumstances
  • Research and recommend products based on the market, and the customer’s situation and risk profile
  • Ensure the customer can afford the mortgage now and in the future if the interest rate rises significantly
  • Educate the customer about how the product works, including options and penalties
  • Advise on related products, such as life insurance and/or mortgage payment insurance
  • Complete mortgage applications on behalf of clients

How much do mortgage advisers earn?

Starting salaries for mortgage brokers are typically around the £25,000 mark. With experience, earnings can leap up to around £45,000 in a few years, and then into the region of £70,000 after extensive experience. A broker may also earn commission on top of this.

What skills do you need as a mortgage broker?

As well as having a strong understanding of the mortgage and property market, mortgage advisers need to have a number of general skills to successfully help clients and win repeat business. These include:

  • Openness – your customers will need to share sensitive information with you, so you need to quickly establish yourself as being trustworthy.
  • Communication skills – you’ll be responsible for explaining complex information in layman’s terms.
  • Great with numbers – you’ll need to be able to calculate quickly and explain different figures and financial information to customers.
  • Attention to detail – you’ll stand out from the competition if you get to grips with different products and how small details can impact the customer.
  • Time management – you’ll need to juggle a number of different customers at the same time and get mortgage offers for them in time for the legal process to continue.
  • Flexibility – customers may sometimes need to call you outside of office hours, particularly if crucial deadlines are looming. Being there for your customers can be one of the most valuable qualities.

What qualifications do you need to become a mortgage adviser?

You’ll need a level 3 mortgage advice qualification, such as:

  • Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice (CeMAP) – this is from the London Institute of Banking and Finance
  • Certificate in Mortgage Advice – this is from the Chartered Institute of Insurance

Find out more about mortgage adviser qualifications.

How much does it cost to train as a mortgage broker?

Both of the courses listed above cost in the region of £500 to complete, but you may want to pay more for additional revision materials and any exam retakes. If you are doing the qualification through work, your employer may cover these fees for you.

How long does it take to become a mortgage adviser?

The qualifications themselves can take between six and 18 months to complete. If you have work and family commitments, you might find that it takes nearer the 18-month mark.

Whether or not you land a job straight after completing your qualification depends on your previous experience.

What are the entry routes to becoming a mortgage adviser?

There are a few ways into this career. You could go to university to study a related subject, such as accountancy, finance, business or real estate, and then do your level 3 qualification. Although a degree is not essential, many people choose to become a mortgage adviser towards the end of their time at university.

Another option is to get onto a training scheme at a bank or building society, where the qualification would be part of your career progression. You can search online for apprenticeships if you would like to take this path. Or, you could get a job at a lender and work your way up before doing the qualification.

Can I become a self-employed mortgage broker?

Becoming self-employed is a popular direction for mortgage brokers. You’ll need to be an independent adviser, so it can help to gain experience in this role first. 

If you are self-employed, you’ll need to run your business alongside your client commitments. That means carrying out sales and marketing tasks to win new business, so it’s important that you feel confident in this challenge. 

There are a few ways to find new clients. You could create a website to showcase your services, use LinkedIn to reach out to people, attend networking events or enlist yourself on a professional website, like this one. Some mortgage advisers also work with local estate agents to get client referrals.

Remember, mortgage advice is regulated. You’ll need professional indemnity insurance as protection, should a client ever raise a legal claim against you. It’s also vital that you stay up to date with regulations, industry best practice and your qualifications.

About the author
Nick Green
Nick Green
Nick Green is a financial journalist writing for Unbiased.co.uk, the site that has helped over 10 million people find financial, business and legal advice. Nick has been writing professionally on money and business topics for over 15 years, and has previously written for leading accountancy firms PKF and BDO.

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