Competent Adviser Status – Do you need it, and what does it actually mean?
In this post, you will learn all about competent adviser status. The thing that all mortgage brokers, mortgage advisors or newbies to the industry want to gain, but does it really actually help you, and does it really mean that much?
if you’re new to the industry, then this is going to give you a lot of value in the sense of giving you an understanding of what competent adviser status actually is, and what it actually means for you in the mortgage world.
Read on to get all the details, or if you prefer to watch you can check out my video about CAS here:
What do you need to start practising as a mortgage broker?
You’ll need some qualifications to start off with. The most popular is CeMAP. CeAMP comes in three stages:
- CeMAP 1 – Knowledge of regulations. Qualified to give advice under supervision
- CMAP 2 & 3 – Product knowledge and how you apply that product knowledge
Once you have passed your CeMAP exams you are legally qualified to give mortgage advice.
However, in my view, there is a problem. CeMAP still the same qualification I did in 2003.
The big problem with CeMAP is that it teaches you absolutely nothing, zero, about doing the job on a day to day basis.
The job is a practical application, whereas the examination is theory, outdated, and has loads of information that is completely irrelevant to today’s mortgage world. Even the scenarios and the case studies aren’t reflective of the advice that we give today.
Once you have passed your CeMAP exams you can start working in an organisation such as a brokerage firm, estate agency or bank.
To move to a more senior role, you will work towards gaining Competent Adviser Status (CAS).
CAS deems you competent to advise clients and to submit mortgage and insurance applications without supervision.
When I was doing mortgages pre-credit crunch, in 2003 till 2008, it was a lot, lot easier. Below 75% of the property’s value, you barely needed any documentation or any detail. You had self-certified mortgages where people could sign on a piece of paper and they could gain a mortgage as easy as anything and banks were throwing money at people.
And then we got hit by the credit crunch.
All of a sudden the bank started to tighten their criteria. They made it harder for you to be able to go and get money.
The whole landscape had completely changed.
The level of detail that you now need to go into is huge. The level of assessment that you need to understand, the world of payslips, bank statements, everything in life, including the kitchen sink is needed to assess whether a client is financially viable to gain a mortgage.
What is the problem with CAS?
There are firms out there who will give you competent adviser status in the process of a week, which I don’t think is acceptable.
And I think it is irresponsible to do that because the whole point of competent adviser status is being able to say that you are COMPETENT.
Now, do you think that an aircraft pilot is given competency after going on one solo flight, two solo flights or three solo flights? Of course, they’re not.
I know that’s an extreme example because they have people’s lives in their hands, but in a world where you’re giving mortgage advice, you’re giving a degree of financial advice.
You’re talking to people about responsibility of being able to maintain a significant debt for a number of years and making sure that their circumstances in the future are not going to change.
As well as making sure that your customer and client has relevant life insurance, critical illness, income protection, health insurance, home insurance, etc. You are making sure that they have the most suitable product to suit them, their circumstances, their income, their future, their family, and everything.
If you think you can be given competent adviser status after one to three cases, having had no prior issues experience, then you’re naive.
And I think the company who gives that is irresponsible because competent adviser status is about your ability to do the job on your own, to the standards that are required under the financial conduct authority.
And that is not something that is learned overnight.
Let’s just take a look at a list of potential circumstances you may deal with:
- A residential mortgage,
- A buy to let mortgage and
- A let to buy (where somebody rents out their existing home to buy a new one).
- You can have a single person
- A family
- A couple
- An HMO
- Commercial conversions
- employed versus self-employed
- bonuses, commissions, overtime, credit reports. CCJs defaults
All of these are different pieces of the puzzle. And until you have faced all these scenarios, how can you possibly be competent?
The biggest issues that I hear from my mentees about the industry are the lack of support, the lack of guidance and the lack of training.
The fact is that there are sweatshops out there that will literally take a person from one particular job and stick them through a five-day training course. They’ll make them do a couple of role-plays, make them do a couple of case studies and say, “Here you go, go and be a mortgage adviser, give clients advice, look after their finances”.
And you are now competent to do it on your own? Absolutely ludicrous.
How can you genuinely become a competent adviser?
As there is so much more to being a competent adviser than just a piece of paper with CAS on it, I’m going to take you through the journey with a case study of one of my trainee brokers.
Case Study: Joe Bloggs broker
First 3 months: Learning the processes and systems
Initially, when my trainee first started, for three months from October through till December, all he did was work on existing clients.
These were clients of mine that I had dealt with, where we were focusing on product transfers or potentially remortgages.
This freed me up time to focus on new leads and new clients.
But in doing that, it enabled him to get an understanding of speaking to clients because he’d never done it before.
It gave him an opportunity to understand systems, speaking to lenders, our internal CRM system, how to manage a diary and how to write emails.
He was able understand the end to end process.
So that was for the first three months only. And during that time he probably did on average two mortgages a week. So over the course of 12 weeks had done roughly 24 mortgages.
Now, also during that time, he was not doing protection. I was doing all the protection sales because it’s very hard to try and learn two things at once. So I was dealing with the protection sales.
Month 3-6: Taking on new leads
I set three-month goals. Within the first quarter of the year, from January to March, the goal was that he would start working on some new leads.
Which then leveraged my time even more because I was able to do more strategy calls, as I like to call them. You might refer to them as a first appointment.
“How are you doing? This is how we work. This is what we’re going to do. This is the fee we’re going to charge. This is the documentation we need. Can you get it all done? Yes, great. Confident we can help you. I’ll give you a call in two days”.
Then I’d call back in two days.
“Oh, you’re happy with everything. Brilliant. What I’m now going to do is pass you over to Joe Bloggs broker. He’s now going to get your documentation in, and he’s going to be in the driving seat from this point onwards.”
And I would then coach a mentor him through those new cases, purchases, buy to lets property investment strategies, whatever it might well have been.
Use trainees to leverage your time
Mentoring my trainee leveraged my time even more because the research is the bit that takes the longest.
And so that was the second three months. And by the end of that point, he had now seen the existing clients that he was also doing remortgages for, as well as probably one new case a week.
At the end of 6 months, not only had he had done, let’s say between 15 and 20 cases up until December. But also, from January to March, he had now done more of the same kind of 15 to 20 product transfers and remortgages. Plus now he had also done maybe another 12 or 15 cases for new clients.
And I’m a big believer, (and we do this with our new trainee advisors of which we have two at the moment) in actually only giving them one lead a day. Any more than that gets you swamped. Because you speak to a lead today and three months later, they’re going to be coming back to you.
It’s got to be a steady, slow increase rather than going in and doing two or three strategy calls or new leads every single day.
Learn more about Financial Services Recruitment Mistakes to Avoid
Month 6-12 – Adding more skills to gain CAS
During the final six months from March until June, I actually trained him on all things protection. How to give advice, how to structure a deal.
Bearing in mind that I ran an insurance brokerage doing nearly a million pound a year, with a team of 13 from 2009, till 2015, spending 20 grand a month on leads I know how to sell protection.
So I trained him on how to position it, how to sell it, how to be effective at it. And that’s really where his sales went through the roof because you imagine for the first six months of his job, he was dealing with remortgages product transfers and some new leads.
But then the second six months were where he was really starting to focus on protection. And that’s what saw a massive up curve in his ability and in his skills.
Ready for CAS
Now, needless to say, I did not grant him CAS status, deem him competent until almost 11 months.
Because of the number of cases that he had then been through; Product transfers, remortgages, self-employed, employed, a couple of HMO’s I think as well, one or two holiday lets, lots of serviced accommodation.
By then was competent. He was able to do the job unsupervised and have less file checks.
So in terms of your competent adviser status, don’t underestimate how long it should take you to become competent.
Bonus: Would you like to maximise protection sales while making your customer feel like they’re in the hands of a PRO?
Get your Strategy Call Script HERE
Play to your superpower
I’ll be completely frank with you. I am not one of the “best” mortgage advisers in the sense that my brain does not retain the information around which lender and which interest rate is the best.
Research takes me an exceptionally long period of time. That part of the job, which is the biggest part of the job, takes me the longest.
I am great with clients. I’m good at rapport and I’m great at selling protection. I can present the right solution.
I understand all the different property strategies from a higher level, but I believe the core part of the job now is retention of information around the lender and the criteria.
I know the loan to values. I know the percentages, I know the rough interest rates, but I couldn’t tell you who, which, where or how or what.
That’s why I have a team. And that’s why I focus on the areas that I focus on because I know my superpowers and I know my insurance brokerage.
So a key point in truly being a competent adviser is understanding your own strengths and weaknesses, doing the parts you excel at, and delegating your weaker areas.
CAS is not just about the qualification, it’s about the client
Everyone chases this piece of paper that says you’re a competent adviser.
To be competent you need to understand, document and facilitate the whole client journey.
To begin with you’ll be ticking the boxes:
- Have I got a fact-find?
- Does the fact-find meet the illustration that’s being presented?
- Does the illustration match the AIP, the agreement in principle that’s been submitted?
- Does the decision in principle match the application that’s been submitted to the lender?
- Do the suitability letter and needs for insurance match the application that’s been submitted?
- Does it all match the objectives of what the client set out to achieve at the beginning?
- And does the advice make logical sense to the client?
- Does it suit the client and their personal circumstances and situation?
These are just the basics. You need to be able to react as the situation changes. Many things may happen.
- The property gets down valued, changing the mortgage amount.
- They come back with a lesser amount because something pops up on the credit score that they’re not happy with.
- Maybe they’re not happy with something in the accounts, the payslips, the bank statements, whatever it might well be. And they reduce the loan amount.
As a competent adviser you need to be able to react to these changes.
Your advice has to match, and you have to tell a story from the first conversation you have with the client, to the point where they get their mortgage offer. And the journey must match.
If it changes along the way, then you need to have additional documentation that backs up everything in terms of why the changes happened.
Don’t just get CAS, become PRO
Being an adviser is a huge responsibility.
It’s your customer’s livelihoods. You need to be able to sit there and go, I can breeze through the ability to do this job.
And you’re looking for this shiny piece of paper that says you are competent, but in your own mind, do you feel competent or not?
Because that’s the true test of your skill and your ability.
Someone else can say that you’re competent, but if you don’t feel it, and if you aren’t able to present to your clients with conviction, then how can you possibly deem yourself competent?
To really be a Competent Adviser you need to be Pro.
What does that mean? In my world PRO stands for:
Because perseverance leads to results, and results create opportunity.
You’ll need the perseverance to understand different scenarios and different case studies, perseverance to learn and improve, and perseverance to know the ins and outs of mortgage lenders.
And becoming Pro gets you results, which leads to more opportunities with your clients, which in turn leads to more opportunities in the businesses that you’re working with.
In the 12 months when you’re new to the industry, or at least three months when you’re new to a new firm you should be getting help and support to guide you.
You’ll need this to understand the true reality of the mortgage industry and what you are about to embark on.
- The right coach,
- The right mentor,
- the right guidance,
- the right support,
- the right hand holding within your business,
- daily conversation, daily communication
- daily support
I don’t care if you’ve been doing the job for six years. If you join Active you have got daily support for three to six months until we deem you competent.
Because although you are competent with the firm that you used to work with, I can’t trust that you were doing it to the standard that I would expect within this industry. I can’t trust their decision.
Where do you go to get the support and the training to take your business to the next level?
For a limited time, I am opening the doors to Fast Business Growth.
You’ll get the support that every business owner needs to be a success.
The Pro Academy is like a Gym for your business. You’ll have everything you need to build a stronger, fitter, and more successful lifestyle business.
If you would like the tools to succeed and double your profit in the next 12 months get the details HERE
So I hope this inspires you. I would love to know your thoughts and feelings around this. Leave comments below rate, review, subscribe, whatever it is you choose to do.
Make sure that you keep talking to me if you need help, support and guidance.
And I would love to help you. I really want to improve the standard of education within this industry. This is a fantastic industry to be part of.
I think there are some amazing firms out there that do brilliantly when it comes to training advisors. Equally, there are some ones that are absolutely horrendous.
And from my mentees, I know that support is one thing that is massively lacking within the financial services industry. So if you need support and guidance come and join me in Fast Business Growth.
You can be a true leader from a marketing perspective, from an advice perspective, from a business perspective and from a family perspective.
Do more of what you love with who you love. That is the ethos. So I hope you have a fantastic day. I hope this inspires you.