Our industry was once all about volume. It was the golden age of the housing boom and brokers were writing more than 100 mortgage cases a month, with consumers looking to buy new homes or remortgaging to release their equity pots of gold.
Lenders were eager to lend, giving finance to clients with little equity, no provable income and a tarnished credit rating.
There was no fairytale ending. The housing market has stalled in most areas and in some regions prices continue to tank. Just as clients have tightened their purse strings, so too have the lenders.
The situation is unlikely to improve in the short term and we have two choices – leave the industry or commit fully to providing the best service on the market.
Assuming you opt for the second option, the first hurdle is client acquisition. Get this wrong and the rest is immaterial. Even those with a strong client bank may find many no longer meet the lending criteria and new customers must be sought. Choose the source wisely and concentrate on business acquisition cost and not the unit price of a lead. First-time buyer leads may be cheap to purchase but few of them will result in business banked.
Having sourced an opportunity, it is imperative we are superior to the previous broker and high street lenders. Rushing through a 45-minute fact-find by explaining rates and schemes is not enough. The art behind the fact-find is getting to know your client’s aspirations so your package fits them now and in future. Do not simply offer the cheapest interest rate. Clients appreciate a personalised service that cannot be matched on the high street.
Make sure you deal exclusively with quality providers and solicitors. The cheapest building and contents policy might be tempting but if it fails to cover your clients when they need it most, it is useless. We owe it to our clients to discuss their protection requirements in detail so they are equipped to make the best decision. All too often brokers sell a £30 life premium because it is easy. Look at other quality add-ons such as estate planning and pension reviews. Clients have tough choices to make and they need your holistic advice to make them.
Dominik Lipnicki is director of Your Mortgage Decisions