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‘I get 99 per cent of my leads from Instagram’ – mortgage adviser

  • 13/12/2023
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‘I get 99 per cent of my leads from Instagram’ – mortgage adviser
Serena Smith, mortgage and protection adviser at Mortgages with Serena, gets most of her clients from Instagram as she feels her personability and identity helps to attract the app’s main users.

Claiming to get 99 per cent of her leads through the social media platform and the latter through Google, Smith did not initially create her Instagram page @themortgageaccount to generate business but to “build that rapport with people”. 

Formerly working in the fitness sector, Smith joined financial services in July 2016 as a customer delivery agent at Skipton Building Society. She was promoted to team leader after three months before becoming a business development manager (BDM) after a further 11 months.  

As BDM, Skipton required Smith to become a qualified mortgage broker which was how she learned the trade. She left that job after 12 months, realising she “wanted to be the person helping” people buy a home. 

Smith went to work for a small brokerage, then moved onto another firm until 2020. That firm closed its broker division and she decided to become self-employed. 


Mortgage advice firm anti-social media

The company she worked for at the time did not like that she was on social media and Smith eventually moved on to work for a business that appreciated her use of Instagram. 

She did initially try to find business through traditional means and although people were referring her business to support her as a “young, single female”, not every lead followed through. 

“You’re not going to come in and take leads from someone they’ve been referring to for the last 10 to 15 years. Ultimately, I think there is a generational thing where [people of] certain age brackets won’t swap their broker. 

“Younger people buy everything online. They don’t ask their friends or family. They see someone share information, buy into it and go to them,” she said.  

It was six months after setting up her page in May 2020 that Smith realised it could be a viable source of business. 

Smith now gets 10 to 15 enquiries a week through Instagram. 

“People are finding me and messaging me, it’s so sweet. They say ‘I’ve been following you for a while on Instagram, I love what you do, you’ve helped me so much. I couldn’t think of anyone else that I would want to have as a mortgage broker’,” she added. 


The right demographic 

Smith said she “experimented with TikTok” and had a lot of engagement there, with one post going viral. This post was about how to maximise annual leave by arranging it around weekends and bank holidays. 

It generated over a million views within a few hours, “but have I had any work from it? No,” Smith added. 

She said Facebook also was not effective as her ideal client was a millennial and they did not typically use that social media. 

“The majority of my clients are around my age and either first-time buyers or they’re looking to remortgage,” she added. 

She said some younger people on TikTok might be lucky enough to be in a position to buy now, but she wanted someone who valued her proposition. 

“I get clients who say ‘I could go to someone free or use a big brokerage firm but I want to pay you and know you’re going to do a good job’,” Smith added. 


Connecting with clients 

Smith said she posted general information about herself which was not necessarily related to her mortgage work. 

“Last year, I did Couch to 5K, I was going across my kitchen, they’ve seen me going in and out of shops… it was just a good use of my time to update followers on what I’d done,” she added. 

She said her followers told her they liked seeing what she got up to each day. Smith also shares more personal details there, such as the fact she became a homeowner through shared ownership and her fertility. 

“I talk about my own journey, being a single person, that I’m looking at going down the intrauterine insemination (IUI) journey. People don’t know what IUI is so it’s a bit of a public service announcement too,” Smith said.  

She said there may still be a negative connotation associated with mortgage brokers, as some have outdated perceptions that they only care about commission. 

Smith added: “I’m open and honest about every aspect of my life and I think that really opens people up. They think, I’m happy to talk about certain things so they see me as a trustworthy person.” 

Smith said there were mortgage advisers with bigger accounts on Instagram but in a male-dominated profession, “the fact that I’m a young female” was a draw to the majority of her clients who were also younger, single females. 

At first, Smith tried to present herself “suited and booted” to look professional on Instagram, “but that’s not who I am,” she said. 

“[Now] I’m sat here, hair scrunched up on my head, jumper, blanket across my lap and working from home. That’s who people want because gone are the days of going into the office and sitting with someone in a suit,” Smith added. 

She said she represented the modern woman who now relies on themselves financially and is already established by the time they have a partner, if they want one. 


Being a public persona 

Smith said while being on the internet could be hard for influencers who did it as a full-time job, she found it fun and made sure to respond to followers in her downtime. 

“I don’t see it as hard work anymore, I actually really enjoy the social media aspect. I’ve had social media managers in the past but now I do everything myself,” she added. 

Smith was nominated as one of the Smart Money People’s Online Financial Influencer of the Year finalists, and of the 50 pieces of feedback she received many said she was “funny but educational”. 

“It’s the biggest compliment ever,” she added. 

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