"As a broker, if you don’t have the tech back-up you’re getting left behind": Marc Randall, Property Circle

We spoke to Marc Randall, CEO of Property Circle, about how the software firm's lead gen platform can help brokers in today's market, why manual methods of managing client banks are no longer appropriate, and why not keeping up with clients is tantamount to ignoring the strong opportunities to uncover new leads.

Related topics:  In The Spotlight,  Mortgages
Rozi Jones | Editor, Barcadia Media Limited
16th February 2024
Marc Randall Property Circle
"Brokers have the leads, but to actually do the same level of work as in previous years is a challenge, because there’s so much more regulation and information recording."

FR: What led you to set up Property Circle?

Starting as a broker in 1998, I have long standing experience in mortgages and protection. I built on this by opening my own estate agency in 2002, and then went on to become a property developer and landlord, learning about the buy-to-let market, in particular, from all angles.

I remained a part time broker while I was engaged in other projects, however my ‘lightbulb moment’ came when a customer gave me an insight into the world of tech and its possibilities and I realised how much technology could bring welcome change to the mortgage market.

FR: Describe how your platform can help brokers in today’s market?

My thinking was that technology could make a big difference in making brokers’ lives easier, while also reinforcing customer outcomes. I envisaged tech as a helping hand taking processes that are necessary for the smooth running of an advisory business, but which take up unnecessary amounts of time and effort for those attempting to find success.

There’s so much to do today as a broker, and if you don’t have the tech back-up, you’re getting left behind, and you’re not able to transact in the same way. Brokers have the leads, but to actually do the same level of work as in previous years is a challenge, because there’s so much more regulation and information recording.

This formed the foundation of our proposition. The aim being to create more touchpoints to engage with the customer, to connect digitally, and to allow brokers to review their client book every week to take into account LTV and rate changes, without exponentially increasing their workload.

FR: What evidence do you have that tried and trusted manual methods of managing client banks are no longer appropriate in today’s market in 2024?

Of course, many brokers have developed good manual systems that support the maintenance of their business and the size of their client base. However, IMLA predicts that the mortgage intermediary share of lending will continue to rise to over 90% of new lending by 2025. So, can they readily grow to accommodate the changing market dynamic?

When you consider that for every 100 mortgages they currently have on their books there are at least 40 mortgage opportunities per annum. We worked out that it would take 42 days to review a client bank of 500 customers, which means brokers can’t do it manually because the products change too quickly. It is becoming physically impossible for brokers to find the time to confirm at any one time that their client has the best mortgage throughout the life of that loan.

FR: How important is it for brokers to adopt a technology driven solution to managing their existing clients?

From my own experience, manual client management and keeping up regular contact is labour intensive. The bigger the client bank, the more time is needed to be diverted to proactive management. It is hardly surprising that brokers find it harder to keep tabs on existing clients as the numbers grow.

Not to put too fine a point on it, I think it is crucial for any brokerage with an intention to stay competitive and compliant to invest in technology that makes client management easier and leaves them free to act on making contact with clients having already been briefed on opportunities to put before clients because of what today’s client bank monitoring technology can do.

FR: Property Circle is a lead generator and client bank manager but what do you consider to be its greatest benefit to brokers?

It comes down to two factors – increased revenue and saving time. Extra revenue comes from never missing another opportunity and the time saved by having LeadGen constantly monitoring client banks and leaving brokers free to do what they do best, namely advise their clients.

In my opinion, not keeping up with clients is tantamount to ignoring the strong opportunities to uncover new leads and that is the biggest advantage of adopting technology solutions like Property Circle’s to not only take the heavy lifting out of client management but to generate new leads. It is a no brainer.

If a broker has LeadGen installed and provides the client with the broker’s own branded app, then the amount of time they could free up would be in direct proportion to the time they currently spend on managing clients. Gaining a whole new stream of leads and keeping ahead of Consumer Duty requirements in respect of maintaining regular contact without the need to employ more staff to manage seems a good return on investing in technology which costs a fraction of employing extra personnel.

FR: In Q2 you mentioned how it could help buy-to-let advisers. Can you describe the ways that landlords and their advisers would benefit?

Managing landlord client banks of buy-to-let property is even more time intensive than looking after mortgage only clients. The properties that make up the portfolio are part of the challenge and need to be assessed against changing values in a volatile property market, EPC regs and profitability going forward.

If agents and brokers are still using spreadsheets, then unless they are actively looking at the data every day, they cannot possibly be able to keep an accurate up to date analysis of property portfolios and the mortgages that support them.

Property Circle allows the broker to engage with and support their landlord’s portfolio financial structure. The systems constantly review the portfolio and provide realtime portfolio value, yield and importantly equity available. This information is visible to the landlord 24/7 through their app and the broker on LeadGen and is evaluated and flagged for follow up action. This means that brokers can focus on those landlords where there is an immediate opportunity to assist them to restructure and grow their portfolio.

Equally at a property level, every mortgage is tracked so that if there is a better mortgage available or a renewal required, all of this is prioritised and highlighted to both landlord and broker. A real win-win.

The final area is the speed of application for mortgages. The days of the landlord spreadsheets with all the properties listed, and arranged in a multiple of different ways to satisfy each lender are over, as LeadGen now automatically does this. With a significant saving in time and cost for the broker (and less hassle for the landlord) – saving time and speeding up application submission.

FR: If you could see one headline about the lending market in 2024, what would it be?

‘Interest rates at lowest level since before Covid’.

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