"The adviser effectively takes care of the transparency and comparison, because they’ll have the experience of working in this sector"
Since statutory regulation was brought in – and I suspect long before this anyway – mortgage advisers have been very used to outlining how they get paid, what they get paid, whether they charge fees and the like, and just how much their advice is going to cost (if anything) the client.
That transparency has not always translated into the conveyancing profession, but since the end of the last year, conveyancing firms have been working to a new set of rules around price and service information, which in theory should make it easier for consumers to compare apples with apples and to see exactly what they’re getting for their conveyancing money.
This might seem a little behind the times – and many in the profession would agree with you – but eventually, even the legal sector, has to keep up with the need to ensure consumers can shop around. Especially when it comes to conveyancing.
We are nearly a year on from the introduction of such rules and the results of a recent annual regulatory return by members of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) have revealed whether that transparency has delivered a better consumer experience. Are consumers truly shopping around via the new transparency price/service data?
The answer, I’m afraid, is not quite as categorical as we might like. The survey/return results reveal that 27% of CLC-licensed firms said ‘consumers have started to shop around more in the last year when choosing a legal services provider’, however the views of the Legal Services Consumer Panel recently suggested, that when it comes to reviewing the new transparency information, conveyancing customers are the least likely to have seen it.
Indeed, when it comes to securing business, the principal methods for conveyancers have not tended to change – they are personal recommendation (37%), estate agent referral (25%) and a direct approach from the client (13%).
You’ll notice something missing from that – referrals from mortgage advisers which, while I suspect isn’t too far behind the top three, could undoubtedly be increased if more advisers/firms took total control of their client’s conveyancing.
And, of course, in these new days of pricing transparency and service information, there is rather a large benefit for advisers to be ‘selling’ to clients – namely taking away the stresses and strains of having to find their own conveyancing firm, and then having to compare like with like in terms of pricing and services.
While clearly transparency, in this regard, is a good thing, I’m not so sure there will be thousands upon thousands of clients wanting to do this work themselves, especially when their mortgage adviser can use a platform like ours, secure the best price and service available from a panel of the top conveyancers in the country, and look after this aspect of the purchase/remortgage process.
Indeed, the adviser effectively takes care of the transparency and comparison, because they’ll have the experience of working in this sector, they’ll understand who might be best placed to carry out this work, and they’ll certainly be able to get the most cost-effective service, depending on the client’s needs.
In that sense, it’s truly a win-win, and in a sector which is not so easily understood by consumers, being that voice of authority and point of contact for them during the conveyancing process, will also be worth its weight in gold.
Transparency for advisers is therefore about getting involved in conveyancing, and making sure clients are completely aware that this service is available, and the benefits it can deliver. Coupled with the ability to save them time, money and stress, should mean that conversion rates can be improved – the benefits to all advisory firms of that should be obviously transparent.