An adaptable investment with a well known brand name

For those looking for a career in the financial services sector, Mortgageforce's Academy franchise offers prospective franchisees a pathway to success with its comprehensive training and support package as Swindon-based franchisee Fiaz Merali has found

Mortgageforce franchisee Fiaz Merali is already realising the benefits of investing in a tried and tested business model and reputable brand by securing £1.6 million worth of business with Abbey National in just six weeks. As his business continues to grow, Fiaz is confident by the end of his first year of trading he will be able to sell £1 million worth of mortgages a month and by the end of his second year he hopes to sell £2 million worth of mortgages a month.

Already an accomplished businessman, Fiaz operated a property development company and lettings agency before he decided to join Mortgageforce. Fiaz wound up the property development business when the market began to stagnate and, keen to branch out into the financial services sector, decided to study to become a mortgage broker. With no previous experience of the finance industry, the decision to invest in the Mortgageforce Academy franchise was easy.

Fiaz reflects: 'I had always been interested in finance so when I wound up my property development business I decided to investigate my options and realised that the easiest route into the financial services sector was to train and work alongside a well-known brand name.

'I was aware that franchising had a higher success rate than solo businesses so decided this was the best route into the financial services sector for me. Mortgageforce appealed because it promised ongoing comprehensive support, is a reputable brand name within the mortgage industry and has a portfolio of awards. Mortgageforce was named the UK's Best Mortgage Broker four years in a row and last year won the Firm of the Year 2008 award at the Financial Advisor Mortgage awards.'

Established in 2000, Mortgageforce has 160 franchisees operating in its network nationwide and is backed by the West Bromwich building society group, which has been in operation since 1850. Its Academy franchise offers prospective franchisees with no previous experience of the financial services sector the opportunity to train and qualify as mortgage brokers.

The low start up costs and overheads make the Academy franchise an adaptable investment. This is because initially the business can be run from home and moved into larger premises as the business grows. Fiaz decided to move his business into the same building as his lettings agency providing his landlords and other clients with a package of services.

Mortgageforce franchisees are mortgage consultants who offer impartial advice to clients on mortgages. The Mortgageforce franchise package includes an array of programmes and services such as advanced computer-based mortgage sourcing and a submission and administration system - these have been designed to free up franchisees to spend more time with their customers and enable them to compare different mortgages from leading banks and building societies. Franchisees also sell add-on products such as insurance and mortgage protection products.

'The training and support has surpassed my expectations,' continues Fiaz. 'I was put on a two-week initial training course where I was taught the sales processes, FSA (Financial Services Authority) regulation and how to operate my franchise in compliance with the mortgage industry standards. In terms of support, I have my own dedicated Franchise Manager who is always on the other end of the phone if I have any problems that need resolving.

'I launched my Swindon-based franchise in March last year and at present am selling on average five mortgages a month. By the end of 2009 my aim is to employ two extra members of staff and as the business grows I will consider moving to a larger premises with a bigger shop front for maximum exposure.

'I have been my own boss for the last 12 years and love the fact that I have complete control over my lifestyle. As the boss I decide the hours I work, which means if I want to take time off to relax, or study for extra qualifications which will benefit my business, I can. In December last year I took a break from offering mortgage advice and left my staff to run my lettings agency and Mortgageforce franchise while I studied for my Financial Advisor exams. Although I did not like being away from the business that long, I knew being able to offer my clients an additional financial service will boost business and hopefully my profits in the long run.'

For Fiaz, running his Mortgageforce franchise gives him a great sense of job satisfaction especially in the current economic climate and property market. 'Homeowners come to me for advice on what type of mortgage they should get and to help them find the best mortgage on the market,' explains Fiaz. 'People are grateful that I am able to help them avoid financial difficulty and often send in thank you cards and gifts as tokens of their appreciation. I love the fact that I am able to help people by running my profitable business.'

Reported by Jess Sturman