"Spending time reviewing current situations, looking at most-likely scenarios and ensuring your client feels their outgoings are manageable for the foreseeable is key to forging strong and long relationships."
At the start of this year my diary was looking incredibly busy. We had eight major events scheduled for brokers in venues across the country. A seed of an idea, grown from the success of the ‘morning with the mutuals’ events, was now gaining momentum and was shaping up to be an incredibly positive way to engage with brokers and share knowledge and expertise.
The Power of 8 is a collaborative of lenders – Mansfield Building Society, Pure Retirement, Principality Building Society, Pepper Money, Leek United Building Society, Hinckley & Rugby Building Society, Stafford Railway Building Society and Accord Mortgages. The members are like-minded people and our objective was (and still is!) to provide brokers as much support as possible. The roadshow of events was aimed at meeting advisers across the country, sharing the latest proposition updates and discussing the changing needs of the market.
In March, when life took an unexpected turn, the programme of events was paused as our industry prepared to stay safe at home and adapt to this new environment. But within a few weeks of lockdown, the collaborative was back together, this time on a video call, discussing our next steps.
Brokers need insight and lender support more than ever and whilst physical events are off the table, we’ve all seen how technology is helping us all connect remotely, so we started looking at our changing needs and how we could continue to offer support, albeit remotely. We identified three areas of focus:
1. Embracing new ways of working
Businesses across the UK have been forced to implement technological solutions which previously would have taken months to put in place. The pandemic has been positive in the fact that we are all focused on working more efficiently, effectively and exploring news ways to connect with colleagues, customers and partners.
It’s not been without its challenges. I’ve lost count of the number of bookshelf backdrops I’ve analysed on video calls or interruptions from small children and animals encountered whilst we try and merge our work-life environments. But all of these moments have actually helped humanise what has been a very artificial few months. I suspect all of us feel we have a better understanding of our teams than we did; an insight into their personalities; and an appreciation for their own situations. People are coming together more and this can only benefit the way we work in the future.
2. Staying true to our core values
It’s also been interesting to see how organisations have reprioritised their objectives. Many initiatives are on hold for obvious reasons – projects which seemed important at the start of the year suddenly feel irrelevant and opportunities we hadn’t even considered are now being explored at a speed which only a crisis can facilitate.
For lenders, the focus has been on how we can continue to offer the right support to brokers in a responsible way. Whilst this isn’t radically different to our priority before coronavirus, we’ve had additional obstacles in the way when trying to offer as comprehensive a range of products as possible to help get the market moving again.
Advisers have been focused on providing guidance, support and solutions for their customers. Again, no change there, but clients will be facing an array of unplanned financial situations, ranging from those who have suddenly lost an income and are struggling to pay their next mortgage instalment, to those who, without the daily expenses of commuting, shopping and eating out, have a surplus of disposable income and an increased desire for a bigger property.
3. Strengthening relationships
And with so much uncertainty, being able to discuss potential options with a trusted professional will offer much reassurance and comfort, even if we don’t have a crystal ball to tell us what the world will be like in six months. Spending time reviewing current situations, looking at most-likely scenarios and ensuring your client feels their outgoings are manageable for the foreseeable is key to forging strong and long relationships. There’s also the chance for brokers to safeguard their business by delivering a service which will result in future recommendations and referrals.
The first Power of 8 webinar took place on 11th June and saw each of the lenders present their latest updates on products and proposition, identifying opportunities for brokers with clients impacted by recent events. There was an overview on maximising the opportunities arising from the three points above as well as a discussion about what the market is doing, including an insight into how industry bodies like IMLA (Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association) are working with government and the regulators to highlight the challenges being faced by advisers.
The next event is already in the diary and these virtual events will continue for the foreseeable. We hope that by working together, sharing expertise, experiences and insight, we can continue to offer the right level of support to help rebuild confidence in the market which in turn benefits every one of us who live, work and breathe it.