Meet Matthew Fleming-Duffy of Cherry Mortgage & Finance
Tell us about your business?
Cherry Mortgage & Finance is a small, specialist broker with a particular specialism in dealing with ex-pat mortgages.
We were originally set up in 2012 as an Appointed Representative of Mortgage Intelligence, however, we gained direct authorisation from the FCA in 2016.
Where are you based and where do you operate geographically?
We are based just outside Bournemouth in Dorset, however, my background is in the provision of advice over the telephone and we have seen less and less call for face-to-face appointments post-pandemic so most of our business is completed on a remote basis these days.
Also, a lot of our clients live and work overseas so I have conducted more and more interviews via Zoom in recent years.
What are the main issues impacting your local market?
Affordability remains a key issue for our local clients, particularly first-time buyers who may have limited deposit funds.
The last time I checked formal data on this was in 2019 and the average house price was around 10 times the average annual wage locally, so with recent increases in property prices, wage stagnation, rising interest rates, and energy costs, I believe this is going to become a larger mountain for many people to climb.
What challenges are you facing as a broker?
Wherever possible, an automated application process is essential for increasing the overall efficiency and cost-effectiveness of a mortgage business. Technology works particularly well for mainstream business, however as we work in specialist markets this can cause issues if someone’s personal circumstances don’t quite tick the box.
I am a strong advocate of personal interaction between adviser and client, thereby encouraging a full understanding of individual needs which in turn should be considered by the lender – sadly, in some cases, the computer says no.
What are the main opportunities for brokers in your area and nationally?
This may sound odd considering my above comments, but embracing technology can really pay dividends to brokers of all sizes.
Allowing consumers the ability to complete or check their fact-find online, storing documents electronically, more sophisticated mortgage sourcing and research are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to considering what is currently available to advisers.
So long as we maintain the human touch, I am really excited about future developments in the intermediary IT marketplace.
What could lenders do to help further your business?
Take an honest look at their application systems. Any broker will tell you about systems that work and those that are really poor. It’s sometimes very hard if, for example, you have worked for a bank for years and know your systems (and their jargon) inside out, to consider how this can be a very different story for brokers.
What sets you apart from the competition?
I’ve been trying to avoid saying that we’re big enough to cope and small enough to care, but I guess that’s it really. As a small firm, we’ve been able to adapt to market changes fairly well and haven’t lost that personal touch when it comes to helping our clients. Simple.