Brokers ‘losing customers by ignoring internet’

Ramesh Sharma

June 1, 2004

Research by Foolproof’s Online Finance Shopping Survey (OFSS) on mortgages found there were significant ‘make or break’ points in the online mortgage shopping process for brokers.

Tom Wood, managing partner of Foolproof, explained that shoppers used the internet initially as a research tool to ‘gen up’ on their mortgage knowledge before consulting a broker. Armed with their new-found knowledge they are more comfortable visiting an intermediary but he stressed the importance of brokers recognising, once recommendations have been given, shoppers will return to the web to verify the information.

He said: “It is at this point shoppers may have their attention diverted by other brokers’ or lenders’ sites and the intermediary may lose the sale. It’s critical brokers form a strong relationship with shoppers at an early point to avoid this happening. It also helps to have a strong web presence they can refer their clients to as a secondary source of information and reassurance.”

The research uncovered that, despite using the internet as part of their mortgage shopping process, more than half (55 per cent) of online shoppers would talk to a broker and 45 per cent would visit a lenders’ branch before making a decision.

Online shoppers typically visit the web at least two or three times before making a decision. 30 per cent would then expect to buy online whereas around half (47 per cent) would continue to research mortgages online but wouldn’t be ready to purchase.

Thomas Reeh, chief executive of blackandwhite.co.uk, commented: “The internet is a great source of information but not necessarily knowledge. At some point in the process a customer, even a financially savvy one, will want to speak to and have their hand held by a professional adviser.”

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