There is always uncertainty in life but providing professional financial advice at the time of a global pandemic can be a particular challenge.
So, what do your clients really want, and expect from you in this changing landscape?
Here are four of our tips:
Get back to basics
In a challenging environment, a good first step is to take a step back and focus on delivering the basics really well. This is a common approach taken in sport when a new coach takes over an ailing team, and it applies just as well to any profession going through an uncertain period – get the basics right and the rest will follow.
So, take a proactive approach to engaging with your clients to understand their current circumstances and aspirations and how these have changed as a result of COVID-19. In what ways could your professional expertise help them to achieve those aspirations?
Be confident, but be realistic
The property market might be buoyant at the moment, but with so many people having experienced significant changes to their finances in recent months, it’s likely that many of your clients will be pessimistic about their opportunities to secure a mortgage. So, make it clear that there are options for people who have been furloughed by their employer, taken a mortgage payment holiday, or missed credit payments during the pandemic, but also be realistic. All lenders are taking a more rigorous approach to underwriting given the uncertain environment, so the process may take a little longer than your clients expect. And, of course, options are limited for clients with small deposits. According to Moneyfacts there are now fewer than 80 deals available at 90% and 95% LTV, compared to last September when there were nearly 1,200.
You are probably already experiencing the frustrations of mortgage applications taking longer to progress – and so are your clients. There are ways in which we can all help the process. At Pepper Money, for example, we have introduced a call to brokers within 48 hours of receiving an application to discuss the case. This approach helps us to work more collaboratively with brokers to reduce unnecessary delays.
We have found that communication is the key to easing frustrations, and this is an approach you may want to consider with your clients. Over-communication is better than under-communication, so check in with them on a regular basis, even if it is just an email to say there has been no progress. This will still provide reassurance to your clients that you are on top of the situation.
Make the most of technology, but be human
Technology is important, particularly in the current environment, and tech like video conferencing and messaging apps has helped everybody to feel a bit more connected throughout the lockdown. It has also helped people to work more efficiently and as a broker you have access to a great range of tools that can help you in your role.
At Pepper Money, we’ve actually recently launched a number of new features on our website, such as a Product Finder tool and Knowledge Centre, which to make it easier for brokers to source and place their specialist cases.
But we also know that people seek the advice of a broker, precisely because they want to interact with a human. One broker recently wrote an article in the trade press, saying: “Customers want to deal with an adviser with access to great technology who has the sensitivity to manage their feelings and the knowledge to resolve the eclectic mix of challenges which typically arise during the home buying process.”
So, make the most of technology, but use it to enhance a human connection with your clients, rather than replace it.
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Credit: Caroline Mirakian, Head of National Accounts at Pepper Money