In the mortgage market, I was brought up with a completely manual process, physical application forms, sending and receiving supporting documents by post and don’t let me bore you about how we went about sourcing mortgages! The amount of real paperwork was staggering. Many advisers practicing today have no conception of working without a computer, its associated applications and access to broadband to do the heavy lifting.
The reason for my ‘you don’t know you’re born’ routine, apart from showing my age, is simple enough. Technology has made possible the sector we have now. Without listing the innovations we all take for granted, it seems a good moment to issue a word of caution. Just because we have all of this technology, it is worth remembering that there is no such thing as optimum ‘tech’. It should be required reading for everyone in the financial services market, be they adviser or any part of the supply chain, to know what innovations are happening in the technology sector and which will directly impact our businesses and the way we run them.
I am not suggesting we blindly follow and adopt every new innovation, like people who feel they must have the latest mobile phone or tablet. However, look at how the public’s adoption of buying products and services online, has made advisers recognise that we no longer have the god given right to expect our customers to come to us when they want or need financial advice.
To counter this threat, we have all had to spend time and money ensuring that we take care to look after those customers and yes, it is technology in the shape of CRM systems we have turned to, enabling us to manage our existing client banks as well as our new business opportunities. Those of you who are members of forward thinking networks like HL Partnership (HLP) will already be enjoying access to technology which helps you in the day to day business of writing mortgages and protection policies, as well as keeping your customers up to date with better money management ideas which also serve to keep their adviser fresh in their minds.
But technology never sleeps. Today’s cutting edge systems can become blunted over time as new services and ways to employ technology are developed. It is therefore vital to review your technology regularly. Whether it is a sourcing system or CRM software, just because it was the best does not mean it has not been superceded by something else.
Let’s face it, being a mortgage broker in today’s market is all about demonstrating to new and existing clients that you can consistently deliver a first class service or risk losing them either now or in the future.
It is interesting to note that some networks have adopted systems that were never designed to cater for the very different needs of their brokers working in pensions and investment advice sector and those of their mortgage broker cousins. Experience tells us that adaptation can work but unless there is a real understanding of the needs of the those who actually have to use the system, inevitably you can end up with something that pleases no one.
At HLP, having put in place a coordinated technology platform we are constantly striving to ensure that it delivers what our members need. In essence, we have an integrated data capture system at the front end, linked to mortgage sourcing and protection suites, a compliance module and a sophisticated customer management back end which can be linked to our marketing engine, which can deliver broker personalised material every month.
Our most recent enhancement, which has just been added, is the link to Legal & General Mortgage Club’s SmartrCriteria search facility and SmartrFit affordability calculator that seamlessly integrates with our core system and streamlines the mortgage journey for all our members. It illustrates two things. Firstly, the importance of having a technology base that allows you to integrate new technologies like this and improve the overall experience and secondly that you are future proofing your choice of base system design, so you don’t have to start from scratch when something new arrives.
When all is said and done, if you strip away the jargon, this is really about being able to capture customer data, make use of it in a way that helps your clients achieve their aims, keep them engaged with you over the longer term and help to maintain GDPR compliance.
But most important of all, whatever suppliers you use, the net result should be that it helps your business be the very best it can be, so that your customers benefit from an optimum level of service.