This week I noticed that #National Freelancers Day was trending on Twitter, which got me thinking. The UK workforce has changed beyond all recognition over the past twenty, ten or even five years.
The numbers of self-employed people are increasing on a daily basis with a recent statistic showing that there are 4.85 million in that category, representing around 15 per cent of the UK workforce.
The introduction of technology over this period has helped create different forms of revenue-generating opportunities and provided a stronger platform for people to branch out on their own and better support their invoicing, financing and general business needs.
But how is the mortgage market meeting the needs of the self-employed community?
Knowledge Bank recently suggested that it has seen a significant rise in the number of brokers searching for lenders who would accept self-employed borrowers. It found that this featured in almost every monthly list and the search for loans for self-employed borrowers has been in the top two for 10 out of the past 12 months.
We’ve also recently seen a call from Trussle for a collaborative effort from the industry and the Government to better support the self-employed. Suggestions include integrating Open Banking to help those with multiple income streams, becoming more flexible with tax reporting periods, and assessing self-employed mortgage applicants on their current, and not historic, income.
Although wider lending support from the mortgage market for the self-employed is hardly a new issue, its interesting that this data and call for change have been made by technology-led firms.
For far too long the high street has ignored the mortgage-related needs of self-employed borrowers. While it is still possible for them to obtain a mortgage direct from the high street, they are likely to be highly restricted by the choice of available products to suit their unique borrowing needs. Thankfully, there are a number of lenders who are now stepping up to the plate. For example, Coventry for Intermediaries has just widened its lending requirements for self-employed daily rate contractors. This includes the requirement to show evidence of a minimum of 12 months’ experience in the same line of work, reduced from 24 months from the main self-employed policy, and to have a minimum of six months left on their current contract.
Self-employed people have been unfairly tarnished as a higher risk lending proposition and it’s great to see a wider variety of providers realising this and implementing some positive criteria changes and product enhancements. It’s also fair to say that many areas outside of the most mainstream of mainstream borrowing have been vastly underserved in recent times. Thankfully, technology is helping to better connect intermediaries with the right kind of lending solutions for those clients who are still being overlooked by high-street lenders, although there remains plenty of room for improvement.
Choice, flexibility and accessibility are all key components in keeping up with ever-changing modern borrowing demands. So, make sure you find the right partners and systems which can help you find the appropriate outcomes to match your self-employed client’s needs and those of many others who could benefit from the specialist mortgage market.