However, despite some arguably nasty surprises, we’ve decided to focus on the positive and asked brokers to share with us some of their biggest success stories of the year.
Matt Lowndes, managing director of Coreco, explains how mapping the customer journey from start to finish helped Coreco understand what they were there were doing well and where improvements needed to be made.
Terry McCutcheon, CEO at Finance Planning Group, shares big plans for 2017 after launching his network earlier this year.
Mark Dyason, director at Edinburgh Mortgage Advice, says that in a year of tumultuous change, 2016 gave his business opportunity to look at where business activity could be boosted incrementally.
As we review 2016, one thing stands out as the best change we feel we’ve made. This was to undertake a complete review of our customer journey, something we have been obsessed with for a while, but had never actually dug down and analysed the customer experience Coreco provides.
It might seem strange, but sometimes it appears the customer is the least considered party during a mortgage transaction and we wanted to change this.
The most important thing was to make sure we got a completely unbiased view on Coreco, so we spoke to our local university and employed an intern to do this on our behalf.
The remit was to be a potential customer of Coreco and 10 other brokers in our sector, making contact with all of them to understand what we did well/badly and what they did well/badly. We wanted to change the focus from just sourcing products for our clients to providing exceptional customer service while doing it. This would involve mapping the process from start to finish and making recommendations.
There have been several outcomes from this and we have learned a great deal and already implemented several key changes with many more to come. Some of the simple wins include the fact we now ask every single customer who doesn’t use us ‘why?’. It is vital we get to know both the good and the bad.
We also installed Live chat on our website which has proved a wonderful success and we’ve made the customer central to our high-tech high-touch approach.
Undoubtedly 2016 has been a fantastic year and we should consider ourselves fortunate that the mortgage market has remained strong despite everything that has been going on around us. However, with all the technological changes, our business and our mortgage brokers can’t stand still.
At Finance Planning we have focused our investment on adding value to our brokers to help them build and grow their businesses. After successful trials in 2016, we will be rolling out our new broker proposition early next year. This includes; an expanded protection panel to increase consumer choice, exciting new lenders, personal broker websites, bespoke marketing materials, central lead generation and sophisticated customer relationship management (CRM).
Outcomes have been really positive as we have been able to have a direct impact on our individual brokers’ businesses and income. Whether you are a thriving appointed representative (AR) or an individual looking for the next deal, we wanted to make sure that Finance Planning is able to positively influence your business. By way of example, the production of a website for an established AR gave them a visible web presence, from which they were able to recruit and generate leads. In addition, advisers have already benefited from leads generated by our new group website.
The adoption of intelligent CRM will help to maintain the loyalty of our clients and in turn benefit our brokers. We want to ensure that the originating broker benefits from maintaining contact effectively with their clients. In an ever-changing world where technology can work for and against us, it is vital that we stay in touch with our clients if we are to call them ‘ours’ and continue to do business with them.
2016 was a year of change for the whole of the mortgage market but we had been given more than fair warning of this and it left us determined to grab hold of the opportunity that would arrive.
For us, this meant looking at the coming months and working out where we could incrementally increase our business. We decided to recruit to grab hold of the buy-to-let opportunity at the start of the year and then focus on first time buyers after that.
We also invested in our back office technology, improving our CRM and learning how to harness the information it gives us – with the aim to step change the retention of clients. This will be a real battle next year as lender focus harder on it – but we are determined to match them at the very least.
We have decided to look at training our own brokers, so this year three case managers have become brokers and are now writing business, it’s great to see people progress and begin to succeed in a new role.
As we headed in to the second half of the year we took the opportunity to diversify our offering; looking to build skills in more niche sectors of the market and spread our wings in bridging, development and commercial. The launch of new lenders helped us in doing this, along with our aim to deepen relationships with other non-top five lenders.
The value these new areas have added has driven the H2 growth and we sit here with a business with twice the case run rate from where we were last year. We’re now looking at plans to help us do it all over again.