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by: Mortgage Solutions
  • 12/10/2009
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Last week, research from user experience website Foolproof revealed that 45% of customers expect to apply online for their next mortgage rather than go through a broker. Do you believe consumers applying online for mortgages poses a threat to intermediaries? What can advisers do to make sure they do not lose out to online applications?

Name: Mark Graves
Company: Linear Financial Services

I would have been more inclined to take the research seriously if it was conducted by a lender who was polling a cross section of its existing clients. The internet is an extremely useful tool to gain knowledge from. It also aids understanding on mortgages, which are the largest financial transaction which people are likely to make in their lifetime. However, I believe the point is that people need to ask and receive professional advice for such a major life event.

The argument for going online is that if you answer the questions correctly online, the software will select the best deal for you. However, advice is about more than ticking boxes, it is about asking probing questions, challenging the answers and then coming to conclusions and the internet does not do this.

When we are unwell, we visit a doctor rather than rely on the internet to tell us what is wrong with us. Making a decision about a mortgage is no different.

A good mortgage broker should also be your financial adviser and the advice they provide should be all encompassing. I would urge brokers to make sure a client can clearly differentiate between the service you can provide and the service the internet can provide. Intermediaries need to prove their worth and show they are more than a quotation service.

People can say what ever they like on a survey, but when they get to the bottom of the page, rather than click the send button, the majority will pick the phone up and arrange to speak to an adviser and long may this continue.

Name: Matthew Arena
Company: Brilliant Mortgages

There have always been different avenues for consumers to explore when it comes to the way in which they go about finding a mortgage.

With the growth of available online facilities, these will undoubtedly become increasingly popular with well informed and savvy consumers. You only need to look as far as Amazon and eBay as examples of how the internet has revolutionised the retail experience.

However, intermediaries are also benefitting from the power of the internet. Online services have become part and parcel of all intermediaries’ working environment, affording them the ability to offer faster, more compliant service to clients than before.

Let us not lose sight of the fact that the traditional reason to use an intermediary is still just as valid. Until there are interactive aids online which are programmed to provide the functions of a trained adviser, the need for advice from a human expert with access to a whole of market proposition and great service standards will be just as important for clients. They want the reassurance of interaction with a person who is trained to establish the needs of the
client and seek the right kind of deal from across the whole market.

Going forward, I can see more people making use of the power of the internet to research the market. While intermediaries cannot afford to be complacent, they will still be a dominant part of the market in the future because of the service they offer and the demonstrable value of human expertise combined with the innovation provided by online services to product providers.

Name: Dean Jones
Company: Paaleads

As part of price comparison site Moneysupermarket, we know that consumers go online in ever increasing numbers to search for financial products.

On the face of it, this does appear to present a dramatic risk to the intermediary sector but this is not necessarily the case. Our experience proves the online threat simply does not translate into action.

While consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated online, advice is still held in high regard and this continues to be the case. Customers still want qualified advice for specific purchasing decisions which are more complex, such as a mortgage.

Paaleads was created by Moneysupermarket for this very reason – to put consumers who had already taken the first steps to finding the best financial deal, in touch with qualified independent financial advisers in their area. Our lead generation tools allow advisers to capitalise on capturing informed consumers quickly and cost effectively. Of course this does not mean it will always be the case. In future, providers may be better able to provide
mortgage products that are simpler and therefore less likely to need advice either for renewal or new purchases. But at the moment, due to the varying products available on the market, this feels a long way off. Instead, advisers should welcome the power of the internet which supports consumers in finding out more about mortgages and then finding professional
advice when they need it. The best solution is for advisers to work with the internet and not see it as a threat but as a complementary aid to their business.

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