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04/06/2020 What brokers should be doing post-lockdown - Part 2

In previous blogs, we have asked industry leaders about their predictions for 2020 and what we can learn from lockdown. We now turn to these same experts to see what brokers should be doing post-lockdown. These leaders provide their best advice for brokers as we come out of lockdown and share the top things to focus on.

 

What should be the focus for the coming weeks and months?

Tom Horton, Managing Director at the Insurance Surgery

For us it's all about communicating as much as possible with our customers (old and new), keeping an eye on trading figures, watching the metrics closely every day and just continuing to innovate and come up with new ideas.

 

Jeremy Duncombe, Director of Intermediary Distribution, Accord Mortgages

The key to success over the next few months is to be more proactive than ever. Your clients need you and want help and reassurance. Work out how you can adapt your business if needed, and how the efficiencies these changes create can be used to allow an increased focus on your existing clients. And ask for help from your BDMs and lenders – we’re here to help and support you.

 

Jason Butler, Head of Financial Education at Salary Finance

Each person and business will have their own circumstances and priorities but I think everyone should focus their attention on what really matters, create a rolling 3-month roadmap with essential actions, and be prepared for a very, very long haul back to some form of normality. 

 

Alison Hutchinson CBE, CEO of Pennies

Increasingly, people are looking for more purpose in their life, their work and the companies they choose to buy from or work with. It will, therefore, be important to focus on what you and your company are doing to give back and support your digital and physical communities. 

 

Chris Maggs, Senior Commercial Manager at Accord Buy To Let

What this situation has demonstrated is that, in terms of new BTL lending, there is a real need for accurate rental valuations either via a central database of rental data or an improved methodology in assessing rental value when a physical valuation isn’t possible. With a high percentage of the BTL sector being remortgaged, accurate rental data would reduce the negative impact on landlords and brokers looking to refinance.

 

Jon Pittham, Director at ClientsFirst

For mortgage brokers, communication with clients and their wider audience will be particularly important. As lockdown eases, it's important for a firm to pick up quickly in relation to opportunities and to start to generate new revenues; those that communicate effectively now will be best placed to take advantage of the return to normality. In addition, consider what other revenue opportunities exist: can firms start to look at the protection needs of clients or are there other services they can offer?

 

What advice would you give to the broker community?

Tom Horton, Managing Director at the Insurance Surgery

Keep an eye on the industry press for updates to provider/insurer underwriting stances. Reach out to others in the industry - we are all in this together so it’s sometimes good to catch up with one another. You will probably find we all have the same challenges/fears/goals so it makes sense to talk to someone in a similar position. Most importantly, keep positive, keep innovating and look forward to when we come out the other side of this.

 

Jason Butler, Head of Financial Education at Salary Finance

Businesses will not be going back to normal any time soon. Assume that the bulk of your business will come from remortgaging and trim your cost base accordingly. Invest in your communications infrastructure and make sure that you are providing helpful and valuable insights that help your clients and potential clients maximise the utility of the property element of their lifestyle and balance sheet. 

 

Alison Hutchinson CBE, CEO of Pennies

Communicate, communicate, communicate and think about what role technology will play in this. Remember, we all need to be just a little kinder to ourselves, our families and our customers.   

 

Chris Maggs, Senior Commercial Manager at Accord Buy To Let

As we start to come out of this crisis, we must continue to improve technology in areas which negatively impact the mortgage journey and we must learn from the last few months and further, develop the flexible working approach which undoubtedly helps cut down the carbon footprint and potentially makes us all more efficient.

 

Jon Pittham, Director at ClientsFirst

Act quickly in relation to managing the initial challenges of cash flow and a lack of new business. Firm decisions taken early will ease the strain further down the line. Use this as an opportunity to establish the right systems and processes, particularly in relation to marketing and communications. If you haven't already, adopt social media as a core channel for new business. Everyone is engaging on social media currently, be part of it and make it business as usual.

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Additional thinking

 

Pay attention to your health

Alaana Linney, Commercial Director of Health Services at Bupa encourages everyone to think about the ongoing healthcare impact that this situation will have on people and invites employers to take a strong position of supporting employees through this:


As we move into the new ‘normal’, we anticipate that the aftershocks of this situation will be felt for a long time and employees will need to manage increased stress, anxiety, depression and, in some instances, the impact of bereavement.

Employers will need to prioritise the health and wellbeing of their people now more than ever and will need to know how to provide support remotely. It is unlikely that we will be able to transition back into an office environment for the foreseeable future or even if people will want to once we can.

We know that traditional healthcare will continue to be difficult to access and this is why it is really important that people are aware of the support still available to them, that they can access from their homes. At Bupa, we’ve seen a sharp rise in health anxiety cases during this time and we anticipate this will continue long after the end of lockdown. We’ve also seen an increase in the complexity of virtual GP appointments. For example, we had a patient who was having a suspected heart attack and put off going to the hospital because of worries about the virus. We also know that people are putting off seeing a GP if they have cancer symptoms which is really concerning.

Employers need to promote and encourage their people to prioritise their health, both mental and physical. That means making it accessible: remote health services, including GP, anonymised mental health helplines and physiotherapy will be increasingly important to supporting employees, irrespective of their locations. Creating cultures of transparency and openness are also extremely important.

 

Don’t forget to add a human touch

Greg Cunnington, Director of Lender Relationships & New Homes at Alexander Hall reminds us that while we are social distancing, it is more important than ever to keep in touch with people and to employ a human approach to interacting with clients.

The other point I feel that has really been brought home is that when times are challenging, the human interaction for our clients is of huge importance to them. This has been seen by lenders where, despite automated systems being built for clients to apply for a mortgage payment holiday online, they found that clients wanted to call in and speak to somebody to discuss their options instead. Similarly, with intermediaries, we have all seen the importance of our advice when discussing a client’s remortgage options or budgets as we walked through the various options. The value of advice and human interaction for our clients has really shone through.

Overall, our experts seem to agree that communication, a genuine, human perspective, and embracing digital transformation are key to success in the coming months. Interestingly, although Covid-19 has undoubtedly caused unexpected changes in the way businesses and the world operate, many of these same themes came to light in the original 2020 predictions. 

 

Using technology to deliver service

David Hollingworth, Associate Director of Communications at L&C Mortgages recognises that the changes to ways of working have encouraged greater flexibility. It is his view that these tools will enable brokers to better develop communications with clients going forward.

Lenders and intermediaries alike have again shown resilience in testing conditions and how fleet of foot they can be when dealing with a rapidly changing market backdrop.  That’s likely to see some longer term changes in how businesses and customers look to do business.  Whilst working from home was not unheard of before the enforced wider uptake of remote working, there will no doubt be some longer term benefits and flexibility that emerges.  

Equally, as so many of us have adopted collaborative and conferencing tools there’s every chance that these will not only be here to stay but also further develop in how we communicate with colleagues and customers.  Lenders will have moved mountains to adopt new practices and hopefully there will be gains to be had in terms of speed and efficiency from the use of automation and alternative authentication methods.

Of course all of us will need to keep ensuring that we are delivering the key, core elements and helping our customers through what remains an uncertain outlook – they will be looking to intermediaries for their continued advice and help more than ever

The world is increasingly ready for a mixture of digital and technological enhancements with elements of individual and personable processes. As we navigate our way out of lockdown, this advice will likely prove invaluable to brokers.

 

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