Finding the right mortgage is no longer just about getting the numbers right. Customers increasingly want something more personal and tailored to them. Figures have revealed mortgage brokers enjoyed a 23% leap in fees in 2016-2017 as more and more people turn to them for advice 1. This shift towards broker-led deals is further backed up by The Council of Mortgage lenders who reported that two thirds of mortgages are now arranged through brokers2.
The shift towards a more customer-centric experience is impacting the way deals are done – purely transactional arrangements are being replaced by rapid, tailored services with the focus on the client while mortgage lenders are taking a much closer look at their relationship with brokers.
In the battle to acquire clients, it’s clear the lines are being drawn between those who offer a great experience and those who don’t. I firmly believe it’s the brokers that go the extra mile that will grow and thrive.
Why the shift towards customer experience?
There are several reasons why house buyers are gravitating towards brokers, not least of which was the financial crisis of 2007/8. The subsequent tightening of lending criteria, combined with much tougher rules introduced under the Mortgage Market Review is in part responsible for the increasing use of brokers. Clients want clarity and certainty that their application will be successful as well as an expert to steer them through complex legislation.
In addition, the consumer has become more powerful than ever before thanks to the dominance of social media and the internet. Disgruntled customers now have a voice which can be heard by thousands, or even millions of people online. If they don’t like the service they receive, they will post about it and review it for others to see. United Airlines saw $1.4 billion wiped off its share price last year after a video of a passenger being forcibly removed from a plane went viral. Businesses, who don’t focus on customer experience or have customers share their bad experiences online, whether mortgage lenders or otherwise, risk serious financial and brand damage.
First impressions count
Brokers are on the front line when it comes to mortgage applications and they have the power to demystify the process for applicants. How they behave from the start will shape the way the relationship proceeds. Successful brokers know they are there to meet the needs of their clients, explain jargon and make the whole application as smooth as possible. They also know that in order to stand out from the competition they need to differentiate themselves.
As employment patterns become increasingly complex with zero hours contracts, self-employment, and multiple jobs, a broker can act as trusted support – someone who can navigate their way through the many products on the market and identify lenders flexible enough to help.
Improving the mortgage lender/broker relationship
In order for brokers to be able to carry out their job properly they have certain expectations of the lenders they work with. And lenders, if they want to increase market share need to be mindful of the way they interact with brokers.
According to a report by KPMG3 , there are two key things that brokers need from lenders – the ease of dealing with a lender and certainty of decision.
What they don’t want is to go back and forth between client and lender in a long, drawn-out process which aggravates the client and creates a negative experience. They want straightforward advice on the information they need to make an application and they only want to have to ask the client once about it. They also want to be able to conduct deals at speed and get clarity on the lending criteria. At Saffron, we believe that flexibility is key to making this happen.
Is the future really customer-centric?
In short, yes, and there are three essential capabilities lenders and brokers need to develop to deliver improved customer experience.
- Flexibility to make judgements on complex applications rather than relying on a robo-advice
- The ability to quickly assess the customer’s circumstances and provide quick decisions on applications
- A commitment to keep applicants fully informed during the process so that customers are not left frustrated during the stresses of a house move. This includes the ability to communicate in the way the applicants request – whether this is by email, phone, text, live chat, etc…
In 2019 and beyond, both mortgage lenders and brokers need to understand the expectations of the client and how they can best manage them. As customer expectations rise, so must the offerings from lenders, and brokers are an integral part of that.