It’s been the most intense period of rate pressures and subsequent withdrawals many of us will have ever seen: The rising cost of living crisis and resultant affordability challenges, service challenges due to application volumes, and continually rising house prices fuelled by a lack of stock.
It’s been a balancing act between overwhelmingly positive market forces, application volumes in particular, converging with some of the most significant challenges I have ever known.
Suffice to say it has been tumultuous, often tortuous, and truly unprecedented. The one consistent point no matter who I speak to across the market is that they are ridiculously busy, “stacked” if you will, or there aren’t enough hours in the day. So, how do we address this?
Well, for advisers, I think the answer lies firmly with technology.
The advantages of tech
We have all embraced different ways of doing things supported by technology over the past couple of years in particular, so why should advisers’ practises and processes differ? At recent events I’ve attended, I have heard a great many excellent speakers within our industry talk about the benefits of technology, and the universally common word they use is “adoption”.
Any adviser worth their salt will have already adopted a decent CRM system to help them manage the caseloads throughout the stamp duty holiday and now the rate battle.
Surviving it without the organisational and prioritisation benefits a good CRM provides is beyond me. With the rate issue at the forefront, all advisers should be proactively contacting remortgage clients at least six months in advance as anything else could see them miss out on the best rates.
A decent CRM will give this information and many will also aid the communication process. If they don’t have this functionality it can be supplemented with a tool such as eligible. Many of our SimplyBiz firms use this, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with clients getting in touch before they come up on their adviser’s radar, it’s helping deliver good customer outcomes.
Another area where the benefits of adviser adoption has seen significant propositional improvement is in criteria and affordability research tools.
I personally assessed many of these in their infancy and in firms I worked for, it was felt they were not up to the standard of adviser criteria knowledge and expertise. Yet in the post-pandemic world of sweeping criteria change, I feel they are fundamental to any business.
They aren’t always the silver bullet and will never completely replace human expertise, but they do massively narrow the research funnel, saving, time, effort and, most crucially, countless phone calls. If every adviser used an affordability tool then that might get more people the home they want, as there are a great many scenarios that often yield unexpected results with lenders you may not imagine being the best outcome.
Finally, and most crucially from an adoption point of view, is mortgage connectivity – the ability to submit an application with a quick click.
A real time-saver and potentially the answer for last-minute rate withdrawals. This has been long promised and is finally gathering some real traction.
It’s great to see the main protagonists – Iress, Mortgage Brain and Twenty7Tec – collaborating to help drive this forward. Together, the message is far stronger, and we are now seeing more lenders make this functionality available.
Usage leads to progress
What is crucial now is advisers engaging with these processes and adopting them into their business. The greater the usage, the more this will be prioritised and progressed.
It is now incumbent on the technology providers to remain transparent about demonstrating what stage they’re at with each lender. If we can have absolute clarity on who you can do a decision in principle (DIP), full mortgage application (FMA) or obtain case tracking with, then this will encourage more adviser engagement.
It is then over to the advisers in our market to save themselves time by making the next big step, adoption.