Over the years, a lot has been written asking which group is in the driving seat? The reality is that we both need each other. That being the case, communication about how we work together is absolutely crucial.
Last year, to amplify the collective voice of smaller advisers, we introduced Temperature Check, a way of reviewing advisers’ opinions of providers and highlighting categories in how providers work, to deliver feedback, good and bad.
We have completed the third iteration of the Check. This was doubly informative because it was the first where we could make a direct year-on-year comparison.
We could review scores achieved by providers in H1 2021 against H1 2020. While the earlier period might have contained lockdown number one, the scores achieved – certainly for those at the top of the tables – were excellent.
Closing the gap
There’s no hiding from the fact that, in this iteration, while our top four providers tended to stay unchanged, there has been a drop-off in scores achieved.
Meanwhile, those providers occupying the places below the top four have generally seen scores increase.
This means there is now a much narrower gap across all eight providers reviewed.
What does this tell us? The latter point about scores rising is good news. We provide an individual report to each provider with detailed feedback from our adviser respondents. I suspect that some of this won’t be news to the provider concerned, but it might cement the benefits of changes and improvements they have put in.
That’s why we’ve seen scores improve.
For those more likely to feature at the top of the table the question now is why, on the whole, scores have tailed off slightly from their 2020 peaks?
You might think that, given how things changed during the time-period, scores would have improved.
After all, initially, providers would have been reshaping operations to cope with staff not being in the office. Resources may have been brought in to deal with this.
There may have been a period when they couldn’t lend.
But I believe that, back then, advisers were responding to the all-out focus on getting things right even as the situation and environment was different for all concerned.
Perhaps advisers felt more cared for, because providers were going out of their way in so many different aspects of the business. There may have been gratitude to providers for going the extra mile during a tricky period.
Now that a greater amount of normality has returned, old habits and attitudes may be slipping in again.
Three out of the top four providers saw their scores for “being a business advisers would recommend”, slip during the period. Two dropped when asked whether they “valued the adviser’s business”, and whether they “go the extra mile”.
Plus, in areas like ease of application, speed, and communication, we saw a tail-off in scores among the top four, with the caveat that the others improved.
Busiest market yet
The other point is that H1 2021 covers what was perhaps the busiest market any adviser or provider has ever seen.
Given the level of activity, perhaps it was inevitable that advisers’ experience might dip a little. And that with the stamp duty holiday over, we shall see scores begin to inch up again.
This exercise is one we’ll continue, because sometimes providers are simply unaware of what advisers think and are going through.
The opportunity to improve is unlikely to be dismissed and we will continue to provide the necessary feedback to allow lenders to do that.