The latest maturity data suggests many customers are approaching lenders directly, meaning brokers are losing out on valuable business. Jeremy Duncombe, director of intermediary distribution at Accord Mortgages looks at ways advisers can re-engage with clients and maximise maturities.
Scan the headlines of any industry publication at the moment and you could be forgiven for thinking that there was only new business available. Stories around stamp duty holidays, lack of choice at higher LTVs and criteria changes are dominating the media right now.
Whether it’s pent up demand, or a more positive sign of things to come, new business is undoubtedly high and as winning business takes a lot of focus it’s possible that those clients who brokers haven’t been in touch with for a while can lose our attention or are de-prioritised.
When new business was hard to come by at the beginning of lockdown, at Accord we saw a sharp rise in product transfers from brokers. But recently, whilst all our reminder communications specifically ask borrowers to contact their adviser, we’ve seen a number of customers coming to us directly to complete their product transfers. Whilst our BDMs and corporate account managers are working with brokers to update on how many customers are due for renewal, it seems many have lost contact or feel distant from the adviser who initially offered them that valuable advice and support.
Not only is this concerning for the customer, who is left to make their own choices, but it’s an obvious lost opportunity – and income – for the broker. We, alongside most lenders, pay a procuration fee on product transfers. With an average loan of £180,000, it’s easy to calculate just how much advisers are missing out on. For many brokers, this will equate to over £5,000 of income a year for clients who come back to Accord anyway. And if that’s multiplied across all lenders…you can see how easily this can add up.
Keeping in touch
So how can you re-engage these clients? We know implementing a regular communication strategy where you can share updates, industry insights and celebrate life milestones like birthdays or anniversaries can have a positive impact on client retention and with a Client Relationship Management (CRM) system, most of this can be done automatically and with minimal effort.
In this environment, if you’re only contacting clients 90 days before their term ends, you risk losing the business you worked so hard to win. Regardless of where your clients are in their mortgage term, it’s likely they will be feeling unsettled. The current situation presents so many unknowns, increased anxiety around employment and additional pressures if caring for children or elderly parents. Sending a simple email outlining how the current crisis might impact your client base with guidance on how best to plan for the future will demonstrate why they came to you in the first place and act as a reassuring reminder that you are there when they need you.
But what advice can you provide? There is still so much uncertainty about every aspect of life that the priority for most clients will be establishing a sense of financial security and potentially the flexibility needed in these anxious times. Taking the time to discuss all the options and possible scenarios which may play out over the coming months and years will ensure your client has a solid foundation to deal with the future.
Any effort you put in now can prove fruitful for years to come. In our experience, once the client goes directly to the lender for a product transfer, they are very likely to not go back to a broker until they move house. Being able to demonstrate the value of advice for the first renewal, keeping in touch until the second and making yourself indispensable by the third can be a low effort way of securing income for years to come.
Don’t miss out
The reality of our ‘new’ lives is becoming more and more apparent and so it’s crucial you take steps to safeguard your business for the long term. Your clients need you and want help and reassurance but social distancing measures will mean that, for the foreseeable, face to face meetings will be less prevalent. Telephone calls, online chat and video calls will be the preferred option and if you’re unsure as to which technologies would best suit your needs, our latest Growth Series guide compares different communication methods so you can choose a platform which is both effective and affordable.
If we’ve learned one thing during the current crisis, it’s that things can change very quickly and what we think we can rely on now, may not be there in the coming weeks and months. So, to give your business the best chance of thriving through clients returning and generating referrals in the uncertain months ahead, work out what practical help you can offer, how best to communicate that and what you may need to adjust in your business plan to deliver it. Any time you can invest into reassuring your customer base now will see you well into the future, whatever that may look like.