I’d like to pose a question
Neal Jannels is managing director of One Mortgage System (OMS)
Would you, as a mortgage adviser, rather drive an hour to meet a client face-to-face (30 minutes there, 30 minutes back in a COVID-19 safe space) or have this conversation from your desk/home over a video call?
Don’t worry, this is not a test, there are no right or wrong answers and nobody is judging you on your response.
However, I think it’s an important question to ask as it encapsulates the value attached to face-to-face advice in the modern age, how important time is, where this time should be best dedicated, client expectations as lockdown restrictions are lifted and the role technology will play in the advice process moving forward.
We know that the foundations of the intermediary market have been built on face-to-face advice and the relationships generated from this but the past 12 months have really underlined how adaptable we all need to be.
And how this adaptability is not diminishing from the importance or value attached to the mortgage advice process, far from it.
In an increasingly complex market, the need for good professional advice has never been more apparent, as is the role technology plays within this.
This was evident in research from Vitality which highlighted that 89% of independent financial advisers are using some form of new technology as a result of COVID-19, with many of these changes likely to become permanent.
It added that 54% of IFAs had to reassess the technological capabilities of their business since the arrival of COVID-19 and now three quarters (74%) say that video conferencing will remain in some capacity, 28% still expect to host/attend virtual events, and 23% expect to use email in ways they hadn’t before.
With technology playing a more prominent role in advisers’ everyday business lives over the past year, the pandemic has also led them to consider how it could help improve their business models.
More than half (56%) said that cashflow modelling tools would help to improve their ability to manage customer outcomes, while better integration of back-office tech (40%) and better and faster onboarding (28%) would enable them to generate greater efficiencies – ultimately allowing them to provide a better service to their clients.
With increasing use of online portals to interact with providers and more IFAs now advising their clients remotely, top of the priority list when using this technology were paperless processes, with nearly half (45%) citing this as important, followed by level of service (39%) and security (37%).
Integrating a digital approach across all communications, back-office systems and general business practices will prove vital for a variety of firms across financial services.
This remains a delicate balancing act for mortgage intermediary firms and how individual advisers incorporate this within the advice process.
Again, there are no right or wrong answers as different approaches will require different levels of digital support.
But what I think we can all agree on is that the reliance upon an array of systems, solutions and tools will only grow and this choice/process can be somewhat overwhelming at times.
This is where a mortgage adviser’s natural skill set really comes into play. If advisers take as much due care and attention in sourcing their tech solution of choice as they do in meeting their clients’ needs then they won’t go far wrong.
So choose wisely and get to know the people behind the tech before you take that all important plunge.