Sharon Mawby, head of sales and marketing at Mortgage Intelligence network, takes a look at why technology will be a big focus for appointed representatives and directly authorised advisers over the next 12 months.
A recent poll has revealed that over half of mortgage and insurance advisers feel technology is “extremely important” in today’s market, whilst only 3% felt it was “unimportant”. But in an ever-changing digital world, I feel it is also important not to underestimate the ability for consumer needs to alter quickly and to consider some of the technological challenges facing advisers in the next few years.
Fighting off the competition
Many experts see embracing technology as a big challenge for appointed representatives and directly authorised advisers in 2016, with preparation and flexibility key if financial planning starts turning to alternative platforms. As Head of Sales and Marketing for an AR network and DA Club, I recognise that right now advisers are as busy as ever. But if the tide turns and competition with direct to lender and comparison sites increases, it is a good idea to be ready for the needs of the next generation.
Although client retention and referral is still the engine that drives adviser-introduced business, making your name heard in today’s online market is a constant challenge. It is very common for consumers to “virtually” approach advisers through the internet first, to get a taste of who they are and what they do, even when recommended by a friend or family member.
Securing an online presence
A professional-looking and easy to use website is a powerful tool to attract business, with more consumers approaching companies online first. Many advisers are adapting to changes in consumer habits, investing in user-friendly sites that also deliver alternative forms of contact and communication, such as online forms and FAQs. Using technology and software to ensure good customer management and effective segmentation is key, to help advertise to and contact the right people efficiently, allowing you to spend more time with clients.
Social media is still very much a subjective consideration, especially in terms of return on investment and reputation management. According to research, although two-thirds of advisers regularly use social media, only half use it for business purposes. But embracing formal social media platforms such as LinkedIn is becoming very popular, and more advisers are finding not only new business, but important networking and referral opportunities appearing. If you are thinking of taking the plunge into the world of social media for you business, it is important to plan ahead and ensure that you know exactly what and who your target audience is.
Preparing for a possible future?
No-one can exactly predict the future, especially when it comes to changing technology. But there are many experts that feel the move to “robo-advice” is an area that many advisers should now be considering. Recent regulatory changes, such as the Financial Advice Market Review, has seen lender and adviser innovation opening up the opportunity for consumers to get their financial advice virtually and online.
Although general surveys suggest consumers still opt for face to face advice for big financial decisions, times can change quickly. Leading lenders such as Nationwide are expanding remote mortgage advice to hundreds of branches and several advisers are also beginning to offer virtual appointments for their clients. As the consumer demographic becomes more tech-savvy, they will in turn most likely become more comfortable with online advice, which means advisers with the most flexible and customer-focussed approach will continue to succeed.
If you are interested in joining our award-winning Mortgage Network as an appointed representative or becoming a member of our Mortgage Club, contact our Broker Support Team on 0845 130 7446, option 1.