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The first in the series of our 'guides to'

Your clients are changing…

Their circumstances are becoming more complicated and diverse and less likely to meet the automated approach of a standard mainstream lender. You may need help to place these cases? The good news is that a growing number of specialist mortgage lenders are available to meet the needs of clients with more complex circumstances, with a hands-on approach to underwriting and criteria that is sympathetic to customers who are self-employed, work as contractors, earn income from multiple sources, are portfolio landlords or have a blemished credit record.

There is also growing competition between lenders that offer specialist finance in many areas.  These lenders increasingly offer competitive rates, but their primary focus is on delivering the criteria you need to secure a mortgage for your clients who don’t fit the high street. A traditional sourcing system might help you to search through the options based on some requirements but is unlikely to deliver an in-depth picture of the most appropriate product. At the same time, the specialist sector can be a complex area of the market if you deal with it infrequently. The landscape is constantly evolving with new lenders and changing criteria, and fully understanding all of the options can be a minefield.


So, how can you ensure that you are advising your clients on the best solutions for their circumstances?

A specialist distributor exists to provide solutions for the cases you deal with on an infrequent basis and can provide you with the tools you need to make the most of every lead and deliver great outcomes for your clients. Here’s a helpful guide, with everything you need to know:


What is a specialist distributor?

A specialist distributor is a full-time expert in the areas of lending that you may only deal with on an infrequent basis, with the knowledge and lender relationships to help more clients, more often.

Some specialist distributors focus on specific areas, but at Brightstar we cover a wide range of lending areas. You can’t be expected to be an expert in every part of the market, so we have dedicated teams that each have focused expertise on different types of lending, including:

  • Specialist Residential
  • Later Life Lending
  • Buy-to-let
  • Second Charge Mortgages
  • Short Term Lending
  • Commercial Finance
  • Development Finance
  • Unsecured Loans


Specialist distributors work with specialist lenders more often and so have a thorough understanding of criteria and application processes. They also have access to lenders and criteria that are not available direct to brokers. Many established lenders choose to distribute some of their most in-demand deals exclusively through specialist distributors. Some new lenders also choose only to distribute their products through specialist distributors to manage their launch appropriately.

So, with a specialist distributor, not only do you get access to unrivalled knowledge, you also get access to products that are not available to your client elsewhere.


What is the difference between a specialist distributor and a packager?

Packagers were originally established to help provide scale to small centralised lenders. In order to grow, these lenders needed to process more applications, but technology was limited, and the job was labour intensive, so resource was a problem. Packagers provided a solution as they had teams of people who could assemble, or ‘package’ all of the paperwork required for a case and submit a fully packaged application to the lenders for approval. Lenders paid a fee for each completed case, rather than having the sunk costs of their own employees and this provided a flexible way for them to grow their lending volumes, and packagers established a role in the market as an important intermediary between brokers and specialist lenders.

With online applications, packaging as a process no longer exists and so the concept of packagers has become outdated. But there remains a demand from brokers for professional support with specialist cases and there is continued demand from lenders to work with key distribution partners that understand their criteria and how best to submit an application and supporting documents. Specialist distributors have evolved and grown their offering to include giving the advice and dealing direct with some clients in many lending areas.


What are the benefits of working with a specialist distributor?

There are a number of benefits of working with a specialist distributor to place your specialist cases, including:

  • The ability to access the knowledge and experience of experts who work are immersed in the market, have in-depth understanding of criteria and know exactly how to present a case. A specialist distributor gives you the peace of mind that you are providing the correct advice to your client even if you deal with the specialist market infrequently.
  • Specialist distributors have strong relationships with lenders which means they have the access and ability to talk through the merits of a case and work in partnership to look for a solution, which could even mean structuring a bespoke loan for the client.
  • As specialist distributors have strong relationships with lenders, they can also receive enhanced levels of service, which can help to bypass long delays that can happen when you deal with a lender direct. At Brightstar, we have an example where a lender has a 14-day turnaround on post for direct business, but only 3 days when it comes from Brightstar.
  • Specialist distributors have access to exclusive products, and sometimes even lenders, that are not available direct to brokers. At Brightstar we have even launched Private Label in partnership with lenders to deliver solutions that have been designed to specifically target underserved client needs.
  • Some specialist distributors have their own technology to help you to easily identify the best solution for your client, with case tracking to provide full visibility of the progress of an application.  At Brightstar, we give brokers access to our EasySource online system, which includes criteria information to help you to identify the most appropriate solution for your clients.
  • Nowadays, specialist distributors also give you the flexibility to work with them in the way that you choose. You can decide to work in partnership with a specialist distributor on a case, but you also have the ability to refer the business in return for a percentage of the fee. This option is particularly popular for times when your options are restricted by your network or during busy periods and holidays.


What ways can you work with a specialist distributor?

You can now choose to work with a specialist distributor in the way that best suits your business.

  • If you want to keep ownership of the advice your client receives, you can choose to harness the knowledge of a specialist distributor to research suitable solutions and manage the process with the lender.
  • When you work with Brightstar, you can choose to go online and use the EasySource system to identify the solutions available for your client, or you can pick up the phone and speak to one of our experts who will be able to talk through your options. You can then complete an online enquiry for to get a DIP and you will be given a shopping list of requirements to support the application.
  • In general, specialist lenders tend to ask for more information than lenders in mainstream market and a specialist distributor will work with you to ensure that you are best prepared when meeting with your client and submitting an application.
  • Alternatively, if you would rather focus on other areas of your business, you could choose to refer a case to a specialist distributor to provide the advice in return for a share of the proc fee. At Brightstar, all we need is a name and telephone number. We can keep you up to date with how the case is proceeding and we have a no cross-selling guarantee.
  • We’re here to make life simpler for you, which is why we introduced our Made Easy Charter, to make sure that working with Brightstar is beneficial for your business and your clients.


Why is it more important than ever to build a relationship with a specialist distributor?

Financial inclusion is a key part of the FCA’s vision and the regulator wants everyone to be able to access the financial products they need. For a growing number of borrowers, this means speaking to an adviser who can provide them with a specialist lending solution and, for brokers, it’s a great opportunity to build a robust income stream at a time when more mainstream business is under threat from automated advice processes.

At Brightstar, our purpose is to support every broker in providing the right solution for their clients. For firms that take a more hands-on approach to specialist lending, we can provide the expertise to upskill and diversify and for firms whose core business model lies in other areas, we say – you don’t need to be an expert, you just need 60 seconds to talk to Brightstar.