This was the majority view at a recent debate, hosted by Mortgage Solutions, where 10 leading mortgage professionals discussed how the broker’s role must change as technological improvements leap forward.
The debate, sponsored by Capita and held at the prestigious Dorchester Hotel, centred around the idea that brokers must change their business models to capture the immediacy in which consumers wish to communicate and transact. Attendees also discussed ways in which brokers can use technology to make them central to their client’s lifestyles, not just the mortgage.
This week our panel of experts share their thoughts on how broker technology should evolve to meet the needs of a ever-changing population.
Mark Dyason, director of Edinburgh Mortgage Advice, says he is reviewing his own customer-facing website to ensure it meets up to expectations in a world where market disrupters like AirBnB and Uber are breaking the mould.
Dean Mason, practice principal at Masons Financial Planning, emphasises the importance of varying communication methods according to customer type, but disagrees that brokers are failing to build ongoing relationships with their clients.
Colin Payne, associate director at Chapelgate Private Finance, says improved communication methods are essential to the success of mortgage brokers going forward, but not without education to ensure the market knows how to integrate such tools into their business.
It is a sign of how fast the mortgage market is moving that the lenders and brokers who worked overtime to write enough to keep afloat just a few years back are now making plans to make sure they can keep their market share.
We have reached a point where someone will step change the market in a way that Amazon or Netflix did for their markets. In recent weeks sourcing systems have come in for stick, but any system that is not ready when something like the Mortgage Credit Directive comes in is flagging an opportunity to newcomers.
This is the same for lenders that take 24 to 48 hours to move data from the application systems to processing – other lenders could have the offer out in that time.
In my own sector I am looking seriously at my website. Over the years I have had web chat, sourcing and forms, but now I see a need to draw this together into an integrated customer facing resource, collating data to highlight client needs. This could also ensure maintenance of customer contact and in an ideal world an ability to integrate with lenders easily.
We all need to push past generic jelly mould websites and engage electronically with our clients continually or someone will do to us what AirBnB or Uber have done to hotels and taxis, and we need the industry system builders to help deliver 2nd generation e-mortgage solutions.
As a speaker at an industry lunch said recently the lunch would not exist in 2020 without radical change because someone will already have had yours.
There is no doubt that the client journey is evolving all the time and the use of technology is something brokers and clients should embrace alike. I think it is important though to give perspective from someone who advises clients on a daily basis in the post MMR and MCD ‘real’ world.
It is and has always been about the client. Some like regular phone calls and face-to-face communication, some are happy with one Skype call and an email when something relevant happens. Personally I would be delighted with an app that gives clients (and brokers) real-time access to the progress of their mortgage – but it needs to be accurate and relevant.
MMR and the MCD by nature have caused additional paperwork which in a small business take up a disproportionate amount of our time. I think it is unfair to say intermediaries don’t work their back book and build ongoing relationships with clients, we do 60% plus of our business with existing clients.
Personally, I use social media to stay in touch and would argue this kind of interaction, so long as it is well managed, is far more useful in looking after people long term than making constant business-related interactions driven by a process. To summarise, it is important to remember that people buy people, and a people skills are key. My style of interaction with a 35-year-old city banker would be completely different to a 60-year-old window cleaner buying his council house in Bedford.
I agree that brokers are misguided if they feel their firms already embrace technology, I doubt very much that more than one in 10 firms are fully committed in this area.
I wholeheartedly agree that brokers need to find more innovative ways of communicating with clients. Clients should have the opportunity to sit down in an evening or at a weekend and complete a fact find using their tablet using a system which allows the client to re-visit the fact find when they have a minute spare which is updated in real time to the broker. This should also allow the broker’s research to be uploaded, one that allows the client to fully track the progress of every stage.
What I’d really like to see is an intelligent system where the broker can recommend a protection policy, the proposal is part populated from the fact find and then the client can complete the health questions at their convenience. Something they could use when they’re commuting to and from work and a a linked web chat to allow the broker communicate where necessary. It is time to move on from a 30 page data capture form.
Lenders are at the forefront of using web chat, brokers should start to embrace this technology and be on call for their clients. Web chat works well for me in the b2b world and I have certainly used web chat in a personal capacity. It goes without saying there will be plenty of people who would lean towards this option to avoid picking up the phone and listening to endless hold music, although I did like calling NatWest to get Adagio for Strings from time-to-time…
Ultimately everything is down to cost. I would have no idea about the cost of a basic app, say, with a mortgage calculator and an online booking system for appointments. The technology will exist, but brokers need educating about what is available and how they can make tools fit and add value to their business and clients alike.