While it is perhaps not a huge shock to discover that people working in healthcare have done more overtime than the average worker during the pandemic, the fact that estate agents are one of the most overworked professions is perhaps more surprising.
According to LifeSearch’s Health Wealth and Happiness report, 34% of people have worked more hours during the pandemic, but this rises to 48% of those in the property sector, a third of whom have worked 10 or more hours extra a week.
But why? Well, while the stresses and strains of home working, home schooling and lockdown have affected much of the working population, estate agents have also had to contend with the added pressure of meeting not one but two stamp duty deadlines while also making sure they meet their customer due diligence compliance requirements.
It is perhaps no wonder then that, with the pressure to get deals over the line, so many are close to burn out, both physically and mentally. According to the LifeSearch data, one in four people working in the property sector say their mental health is worse than before the pandemic started.
John Dobson, CEO of anti-money laundering platform SmartSearch said: “There are a number of reasons why estate agents have struggled so much during the lockdown.
“For many, working from home has meant they never actually ‘go home’ at all, with many failing to take proper breaks, feeling pressured to work when they’d usually be commuting and answering emails well beyond normal working hours.
“And while the pressure to work longer hours is not unique to the property sector, the added stress of staying on top of the latest rules around house sales and getting sales across the line before the end of the stamp duty holiday - something that happened twice as a result of the extension - is.
“And that is before you even consider the other source of stress for estate agents; running anti-money laundering checks and customer due diligence during a pandemic, with lockdowns, shielding and isolations constantly causing issues.”
As a regulated business, estate agents are required, by law, to run anti-money laundering checks on all their clients or face serious consequences. And while the pressure to get it right is huge, the actual process doesn’t have to be stressful, as John explains.
“Trying to stay on top of AML requirements during the pandemic has been really tough for estate agents. Most would usually see the person face to face in order to check their documents, but this has been really difficult under the various restrictions that have been in place since March 2020.
“Not only are checks difficult to run, but estate agents that get it wrong could face fines and even prison, which all adds to stress of the situation.”
John says that now - as estate agents start to find their feet in a post-covid / hybrid office and home working environment - is the perfect time to look at how embracing AML technology could save time, money and stress.
“Estate agents already rely on tech to automate a lot of their tasks - things like managing appointments and workflows, responding to new leads and property matching clients, so it is amazing so many still rely on manual AML processes.
“Electronic verification platforms like ours mean that estate agents do not need to waste time and energy manually running due diligence on their clients - it can be automated.”
SmartSearch is a cloud-based verification and screening platform that can offer estate agents a quick and easy way to meet their AML obligations.
“With our platform, you can run full AML checks on every client, without even having to see them in person.”
Just enter, scan or upload their details into the system via desktop or your phone or tablet and SmartSearch will run ID, verification and screening checks, delivering the result in less than two seconds.
All search data is recorded, hosted and regularly monitored to ensure watertight record keeping and a clean, compliant position.
John concludes: “Estate agents are under enough stress at the moment, without the additional worry of trying to run a manual AML programme. Technology not only offers a quicker and easier solution, but also a more reliable and secure way of meeting AML requirements.
“PropTech is already helping increase efficiency in so many other areas, so why not let RegTech take care of your AML obligations?”