Speaking at Mortgage Solutions’ The Mortgage and Protection Event he noted the biggest threat came from customers choosing to go elsewhere and urged brokers to focus on long-term retention.
Duncombe delivered key advice to help brokers do this and also joined the industry-wide criticism of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) mortgages market study for being too price focused.
“I’ve always felt the customer chooses. We don’t own the customer as a lender, you don’t own them as a broker,” he told the audience in Manchester.
“The customer chooses where they want to go and if they choose that route it’s very difficult to get them back.”
He added: “The main threat to a broker is not the lender, not other brokers, not robots or comparison sites. I think the threat is the customer and what they decide to do going forward.
“Customers are looking online much earlier in the process. They are starting most journeys online even if it’s just an initial search for the best rates or to find a broker – whatever it is,they are starting earlier and expecting different things.”
Duncombe continued: “I am worried about some brokers who don’t embrace some of this stuff.
“I’m worried about brokers who assume it’s not happening, who assume their business will continue as it always has.
“And I really worry about brokers who don’t look at that back book, those customers who they’ve seen before, because they are the ones who are going to get taken by other people.”
Adapt, evolve, fail fast
During his session Duncombe described several ways for brokers to help futureproof their businesses and build strong relationships with customers.
He urged advisers to ask what their business will look like in 12 months’ time and called on them to “be prepared to adapt and evolve” and to invest appropriately – “it doesn’t have to be the most expensive thing,” he said.
Brokers will also need to be agile and to move quickly.
“Be good enough. A lot of strategies are over engineered and wait until its perfect and by then it’s out of date,” Duncombe continued.
“So just do it, get on with it, make sure it’s fit for purpose and move on and adapt with it.
“Be prepared to fail fast. Give something a go, if you find out it doesn’t work don’t keep digging. Once it’s failed, just stop, there are plenty of other things that might work for next time,” he added.
Remediation saves clients
Another key element of advice Duncombe gave was in maintaining good relationships when things go wrong.
“When it all goes wrong, and it will, stick your hands up say ‘I’m really sorry, we did something wrong, that shouldn’t have happened’ and remediate,” he said.
“We have a remediation scheme where when we’ve done something wrong or we’ve messed-up on a case, we send a note, say sorry and send something out.
“That remediation can save a relationship, it can save a customer and you get some really good referrals off the back of that.”
Get cheapest result out
And Duncombe also criticised the regulator’s approach to the market, noting that it seemed to be in keeping with a “rational” technology-based method of customer transaction where “you put data in and get the cheapest result out”.
“None of us go out all the time and buy the cheapest thing and that’s my worry about the FCA’s market study, they focus way too much on price and their view is cheapest is best,” he said.
“I don’t think that’s necessarily the best. We’re all focused in this room around the customer getting the right thing.”