The most enviable aspect is how close the bond between an intermediary and their clients can become across a range of financial needs. Every customer is also important to a lender, whether this be someone opening a savings account, obtaining a credit card or holding a mortgage.
When examining the relationship with a direct customer, our aim is to understand spending and/or borrowing habits so we can best match our products/services with their needs and hopefully establish a long-term relationship. When you take into account the volume of direct customers this increases in difficulty. As such, there remains a strong emphasis on the distribution, marketing and public relations departments to help fill in any educational and promotional gaps.
The vast majority of intermediary firms obviously don’t have the luxury of such departments and often have to be all things to all people. This balancing act can prove difficult in terms of time management, generating new business and servicing existing clients. However, when intermediaries get this right, it provides the opportunity to work with clients across many ancillary product areas and can also lead to word of mouth referrals. An element, even given the world of social media, which the most well-resourced marketing team would give their right arm for.
Strong service levels are paramount to any successful business and that is equally apparent for the intermediary community. Research from Legal & General found 71% of brokers agreed that focusing on the quality of their customer outcomes was the most important aspect of their day-to-day role. A further 44% stated that “improving customers’ understanding of products” was another one of their key priorities. I can’t really comment on whether these figures should in fact be higher as I don’t know how this data was collated, but anything which highlights the importance attached to service values has to be a good thing.
Everything we do as a lender, whether direct or through intermediary partners, revolves around the quality of customer outcomes. In terms of the intermediary market, our ongoing aim is to learn from intermediary partners and invest in new tools/processes to improve the way we do business together. Within this we have to better understand their business needs and constantly adapt service offerings to not only meet their shifting demands but also crucially those of the end client. Not to mention forging a better understanding of the influencing factors behind how and why cases are being submitted. This continues to be an area in which the vast majority of intermediaries excel and is certainly one from which we, as lenders, can continue to learn the most.