Conveyancing and technology: how the two go hand in hand

The conveyancing market is booming. Proactivity levels have soared by 69% in the past four years, according to data released in July by Search Acumen, even with 11 per cent less conveyancers currently in the market. It’s becoming ever more imperative that those of us still working in the industry can cope with a heavier workload, and continue to make it a success.

As the amount of technology on offer increases, its use in different sectors grows at the same time. Technology in the conveyancing industry has improved as of late, with the rise in technology overall playing its part in enabling conveyancers to not only keep on top of their cases, but to ensure they are completed efficiently and to a high standard.

Conveyancers are, on average, now completing an extra case per week, and technology can be thanked for having a large part in this success. It can be said to be helping improve efficiency, enhancing due diligence and streamlining the processes that must be completed in the conveyancing process. But do you know everything that’s on offer to you to ensure your conveyancing career is a successful one? 

Technology and communication

Communication is incredibly important if you want the conveyancing process to run as smoothly as possible. ConveyancingBrain’s Case Tracking Guide provides an overview of the perfect method of three-way communication, between you, your client and the chosen Solicitor. The ConveyancingBrain team is also able to join in the conversation to move things along, so it can be a four-way conversation if need be.

One of the beauties of the messaging element of the case tracking is that you can also choose whether all parties or just some can see each message. On occasion it may be prudent to simply converse directly with the Solicitor without the need for the Client to view that message, thereby giving you greater control of the communication.

The Purchase Progress log on the case tracking system also shows what stage the case is currently at and helps provide confidence and information as to what activity the Solicitor is undertaking.

With all communication in one place and made simple, you can keep up with your growing workload whilst not compromising on service. The guide explains how to track your cases efficiently, with the system allowing everyone to see case updates 24/7 and alerting all parties when there is an update, request or advance in the case.

Regular updates

The brilliant thing about technology is that it means processes are now instant, and updates more frequent. ConveyancingBrain are committed to making regular updates to the system to make things easier to use and processes more simple to follow, giving you the tools you need to obtain a quote quick and easily, instruct a solicitor and complete a case.

tracking

Automated emails and text messages (if chosen) are sent whenever a Solicitor adds a note to the Case Notes section of any ongoing cases, saving plenty of time as it means you don’t even have to log in to check your messages.

Technology also makes it easier to take on customer feedback and implement any changes to make the user journey a better and smoother one.

One change ConveyancingBrain made recently was making it possible for you to choose whether to disclose the Solicitor’s name on the quote you provide to your client. Technology allows you to choose from different options to make everyone’s conveyancing experience better.

Opportunity for more

With technology comes the ability to offer more for your customers, with the advantages for online offerings ever increasing. Downloadable guides are a handy ConveyancingBrain offering that you can use to offer additional support to your clients.

Whether it’s sharing the 10 Steps to Conveyancing with your client to help them understand the process, information to sell conveyancing to clients, or guides to help you to make the most of the system, there are plenty of free information available to ensure both you and your clients are well equipped to understand the conveyancing process.

Technology is all about making things easier

When it comes to your job, the more streamlined processes are and the easier a system is, the more likely you are to succeed. Coping with an increasing workload sounds difficult, but when you use systems at your disposal, life is made much easier.

Social Media for Advisers

Social media for advisers – where to start?

Research shows that £145Bn worth of mortgages were granted in 2016* but with new mortgage brokers setting up every week you need to be able to protect, and indeed grow, your own market share. You can gain instant access to 1000s of buyers using social media, but where do you start? Or how do you maximise your time online to the best effect? In this article, we explore how social media can give you that competitive edge.

Why use social media?

Being part of a social media community immediately opens up opportunities to expand your audience, communicate within the industry and engage with potential clients. It can help you:

  • Keep abreast of the latest news and developments in the mortgage market
  • Promote your business and communicate with potential clients
  • Network with fellow brokers and connect with Lenders
  • Link in with industry influencers who may open doors for you

As we mentioned in our previous blog, your website acts as your shop window. Social media goes further – it provides more channels and opportunities to promote your business, as well as directing readers to your own website. With each and every social media channel you can easily connect, engage and discuss with all those who are important to you. You can promote your business through your social profile(s) to help attract new clients. By posting engaging, relevant content and promoting your profiles to others, you can help boost your reputation and recognition amongst your target audience.

You can promote your business through your social profile(s) to help attract new clients. By posting engaging, relevant content and promoting your profiles to others, you can help boost your reputation and recognition amongst your target audience.

Social media platforms allow you to network with fellow brokers, start a conversation about a current topic and discuss more general, light-hearted subjects. Ultimately, social media gives you the possibility to grow a network of contacts you can connect and potentially work with in the future.

Using social media

Which platforms should you use?

From Facebook to Pinterest and YouTube, the myriad of channels can be overwhelming making it hard to know which one/s to focus on.  However, you don’t have to use them all. Don’t overstretch yourself and focus your efforts on perhaps just one platform to start with. This will ensure the quality of your messages remains of a high standard and you are able to post regularly.

TOP TIP: Do NOT attempt to use more than three channels when starting out on social media. Perhaps start with one and build from there.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a prime platform for brokers to find and network with like-minded peers. It is traditionally a professional network, where discussions tend to centre on industry-related subjects. This means that most of your connections are likely to be people you work with and other industry contacts you may know, for example, people you have met at events or conferences. You can also join groups about topics you’re interested in or to connect with like-minded people, such as the Mortgage Brain group or Mortgage Brokers UK.

You can create a personal profile as well as a company page for your business to post your own content and updates to promote your services.

Twitter

The main benefit of Twitter is that it is an open network. While LinkedIn and Facebook both have closed networks whereby you must connect with, ‘like’ or ‘follow’ someone in order for them to see your content, Twitter is open to everyone.

Unless your account is on a private setting, people can see your tweets and get involved in discussions, especially if you use hashtags. This is an excellent technique to increase brand awareness and to spread the word about your business.  Don’t use more than a couple of hashtags in any one tweet thought, otherwise it could look like spam.  Again, you can set up your profile to be personal – or create one for your business.

TOP TIP: Practice at writing short posts as Twitter only allows 140 characters, including any relevant links or tags.  For example: Radical new proposals to cut out unfair abuses of leasehold have been announced by the government this week:  buff.ly/2uBapHo   (132 characters)

Facebook

Your personal Facebook profile with party and children photos won’t get you far in the mortgage world, so for business promotion, it is a good idea to create a Facebook company page to act as the hub of your marketing on this channel.

Like many other social channels, Facebook allows you to schedule content to be posted directly onto your page and reach out to your target audience with the use of promoted posts. It is a tool primarily for businesses to use, and it can help you with lead generation.

TOP TIP: Ensure you set up the right sort of page for your business – Facebook guides you through the process and has a great help centre should you need it.

Business or pleasure?

If you have your own business and are looking to grow your client base, it’s best to first focus on creating company pages for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can share similar content across all three sites whilst ensuring you reach a variety of audiences since different people use different networks. This simple step ensures you are promoting your business, rather than your social activities.

TOP TIP: Check your organisation’s policy to ensure you stay within their guidelines (if applicable). It may include hints and tips to get you started.

If you work for a larger company and would like to expand your industry presence as an individual, you can start off with a Twitter account and a LinkedIn profile. You can get involved in discussions on Twitter and tweet from meetings or events to get involved in conversation with fellow brokers. Start building connections with colleagues on LinkedIn and explore any groups you can join to meet new people to network online with.

Use social media to your advantage

Using social media wisely can help grow your business and your network of trusted contacts and specialists. Show yourself to be an expert in your field and you are likely to earn the trust and respect of your audience. You should share interesting, unique content that adds value to your followers, reminding yourself that it’s quality, not quantity that counts. Dedicate sufficient time to build an audience on each network – and remember not to spread yourself too thin. Good luck!

*Source: Building Societies Association

Could the mortgage market undergo Uber-ification?

No one has yet invented the mortgage industry silver bullet; the idea that could transform the industry as we know it. But as our CEO Mark Lofthouse explains, it may be somewhere on the horizon, and we must be prepared for it.

Want a taxi? Not a problem.

Go onto the street and hail one, or book one over the phone. Simple and straightforward. It’s always been done that way, always will be. But in 2011, two men launched the Uber app, which allowed anyone with a smartphone to make a trip request and have the cab closest to them make the pick-up. Five years on and Bloomberg estimated the company’s revenues to be around $5.5 billion dollars.

Airbnb is another strong example of how an idea can come out of nowhere and change an industry forever. No matter how inconceivable an idea, we must remember that the possibility exists that someone, somewhere could come up with it at any time.

uber

But why can it happen?

One of the reasons is that no one ‘owns’ the taxi space. In the same way that no one ‘owns’ the mortgage space. As radical as it sounds, anyone is free to come in and be a ‘disruptor’, and if people like the idea then it could change the rules and irrevocably alter the way mortgages are sold!

The mortgage industry is rarely at the front of the queue for innovation. Apps, for example, were well established in other sectors before arriving in the mortgage market. ‘Robo advice’, however you interpret it, is commonplace in areas such as car and home insurance and it’s now in its early stages for mortgages.

So what’s the chance that our industry will be altered?

No one has yet come up with an idea that could transform our industry, and the idea that someone could may not seem all that attractive. But we shouldn’t close our minds to them or discount the idea that someone, somewhere, could be working on something radical.

Although, we do have to ask ourselves: what would it be? Would it allow consumers to have mortgages that are tailor made? Mortgages that automatically change whenever a new and more desirable product appears? Maybe even a completely new way of buying a house that makes mortgages redundant at a stroke?

They are ideas which may not seem feasible, but in 2017 and beyond they could well become reality.

Ideas don’t always make you an overnight success

It is worth noting that Techcrunch.com reports that Uber’s losses are expected to hit $3 billion in 2017, Airbnb has had it run ins with authority, and there will always be plenty of people willing and able to piggy back on the success of early adopters. But the tantalising possibility remains.

So what can the industry do about it?

It’s hard to fight against something that doesn’t exist and that no one knows anything about, so the best defence is to make the industry as future proof as possible. This means moving with the tech times and offering as high a level of professionalism as possible. As the technology and service improves, so the window for uber-ification is reduced.

In the meantime, keep watching the skies.

The best sourcing gets even better

We’re always looking at different ways we can enhance our offering to you, and we’re excited to be launching second charge sourcing functionality in our systems very soon.

It will be a new chapter in mortgage sourcing, as our whole of market first charge online and offline sourcing systems will now include second charge products. You will be able to compare first and second charge products side by side, so it will be much easier to advise and offer your clients alternative lending products

One system for everything
Back in January 2016 we launched LoansBrain, our free second charge loan sourcing website, allowing advisers to source and refer to a Master Broker or simply advise on second charge products to their customers.

The choice of products direct from lenders or Master Brokers are now wider than ever before, so with the inclusion of second charge products in our mainstream first charge sourcing systems, you know have the option to source both first and second charge loans all in one place.

Innovative and advanced sourcing
The new functionality will offer you the ability to compare a remortgage with a current mortgage, plus a second charge loan to assess which suits your client best.

Over 200 search criteria in our sourcing systems will help you find the products that best match your client’s requirements and display them side by side, so you can easily compare and decide which would be most suitable. This comparison function, combined with the ability to run and save different scenarios for each client, now means that the second charge loan sourcing capabilities within our systems are second to none.

The new second charge sourcing option will be available to you to select from the main sourcing screen, as well as when sourcing a re-mortgage. The control is completely with you, and that’s what’s so exciting about it.

Watch this space
We will be rolling out the enhancements to our MortgageBrain Classic system users from mid-April onwards and MortgageBrain Anywhere users will receive the update in early June.

We’re incredibly excited to be bringing you yet another quality solution to help you expand your business opportunities as an Adviser.

Mortgage Brain’s Christmas Wishes

With only days left to go before Christmas comes around, our CEO Mark Lofthouse outlines his industry-focused present wish list for this year.

Wish 1: Superfast broadband – especially in the UK
In the fast broadband league, the UK sit at a disappointing 19th place, according to an article published in ISP Review in June this year. South Korea lead the way, with broadband a whole 15bps faster than us here in the UK. Mark notes: “We are supposed to be one of the richest nations in the world, with one of the most advanced economies, and yet our broadband speeds are lacking. Governments keep talking about how poor the speeds are, it’s time something was done about it.”

Wish 2: Instant rule changes
Wouldn’t it be amazing that if, whenever a new set of rule was brought in, they were actually put in place instantly? Those of a certain age will remember Samantha Stevens in Bewitched, all she had to do was twitch her nose and voilà! A change would occur instantly. It would be a simpler world if rules were implemented immediately and effortlessly.

Wish 3: Honest and straightforward Advisers
A problem with the financial services industry as a whole for this third wish, following Ipsos Mori’s Veracity Index 2016, outlined the level of trust the public has in each profession and bankers finished sixth bottom. I know that mortgage advisers aren’t bankers, but the financial services industry as a whole still has an image problem. My wish is that in 2017 the FCA doesn’t have to fine a single company. A simple wish, but one which would help the industry massively.

Wish 4: Advisers taking advantage of new markets
Although the mortgage industry is buoyant at present, it won’t always be this way. At some point, the mainstream mortgage market could slow down again… it’s important to diversify now, deliver a broader service to your clients and keep competition at bay.

The protection, second charge, conveyancing and general insurance markets are a number of areas that advisers should be talking to their clients about. There are opportunities out there so don’t wait until your bread and butter work has dried up to go looking for them and deliver a more complete service now.

Wish 5: Everyone taking a step back and calming down
A straightforward request for this Christmas, whatever side of the debate you’re on, our post-Brexit world has been an uncertain one, and the imminent arrival of President Trump hasn’t done much to calm things either. That’s why my final wish is that 2017 be a calmer year, with no more major financial or political upheavals. Is that too much to ask?

A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from everyone here at Mortgage Brain. Let’s hope 2017 will be able to grant Mark his wishes.

Online Chat

The latter half of this year saw us enhance our customer support when we officially launched our online chat service for advisers.

Online chat provides a quick, free-of-charge way to talk to one of our Customer Services team, who are on hand to answer questions almost instantly. It means advisers have an extra way in which to contact us for support, which may on occasion suit them better than calling our existing customer services phone line.
Since its launch in June, our online chat system has helped over 1,480 advisers, and the numbers using the service appear to be increasing each month.

What does online chat offer?
Our online chat facility enables advisers to contact us for free via our website with any questions they may have, or for any assistance they require.

Our friendly Customer Services team help with a myriad of queries, from help with forgotten log in details, sales enquires, and any questions advisers might have with regards to all of our Mortgage Brain systems.

When is the service available?

Online chat is available during our normal Customer Services working hours, and from 10.00am on a Wednesday morning to allow for training.

When you visit our website, after a few seconds the online chat box will pop up at the bottom of your screen. Or you can initiate a chat yourself, by clicking on the top of the box with the ‘Can we help?’ button, appearing in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.

Advisers are able to email themselves a transcript of their chat, ensuring that they have all details they need on file should they require similar assistance in the future.

Why did we decide to offer this service?
In a world where everything is instant, we want to ensure that we provide a service which is in keeping with the fast-paced environment we operate within.

The online chat facility is yet another way in which our customers can get in touch with us. It both complements and enhances our traditional helpline, and the online support in terms of guides and videos already available via our website.

Mark Lofthouse, our CEO, states: “The new online chat facility is part of Mortgage Brain’s proactive commitment to supporting advisers and providing excellent customer service.”

“I’m delighted that those who have already used the service have found it useful and continue to use it as an alternative to the traditional telephone service when it suits them better.”

To use our online chat service, please visit our website www.mortgage-brain.co.uk and let us help you!

Mark Lofthouse on the Importance of Client Retention

Last month, our CEO Mark Lofthouse had an excellent opinion piece published online. The column covered the importance of client retention, a significant area vital to mortgage brokers.

We’ve broken down the top points from Mark’s column so you can easily digest the important information that he covers.

Don’t ‘just sell mortgages’
Any adviser who just ‘sells mortgages’ isn’t doing their job as well as they could. Mark explains that a role of a mortgage adviser extends far beyond simply advising and selling mortgages.
They must value each customer as an individual, and treat him or her as such. He says: “It is critical that the needs of the customer are met and the review and advice process should look at the customer’s overall needs and not just their mortgages.”

This will in turn increase your income.
Mark goes on to say that, if you acknowledge the individual needs of each customer, you are more likely to receive a lifetime of recurring business. On the reverse, you may be missing out on a great sum of income because you’re not paying due care and attention to your customers.

Provide a broader service.
Following on, Mark advises that, although we don’t want to be selling customers things they don’t want or need, offering extra services to them is beneficial, as if the client sees the services as good value, “they’ll be pleased you’ve taken the trouble to give them that extra level of service,” thus leading to recommendations to friends and family.

Regular contact is paramount.
Don’t just contact your clients when they are due a remortgage. It is vital that your customers stay in your thoughts as often as possible, and finding out more about them means you will be able to offer them further services in the future.

Mark states: “Finding out more about clients’ financial affairs also gives you a reason to stay in touch, either as a courtesy call every so often or when one of their products is due for renewal.”

Keep on top of the industry.
Mark’s closing points underline the importance of keeping abreast of the constant changes in the market. He outlines a myriad of knowledge about each customer you need to know, such as “knowledge of the prevailing provider service levels, what clients enquired about last time you saw them, awareness of their financial situation, and if you know them well, where they went on holiday or what their children are up to.”

But you can’t store this in your own head! To keep all this vital information, and to ensure you are organised, Mark emphasises the importance of using up-to-date front and back office technology, which everyone has at their disposal and should be taking advantage of, for example, our CRM system, the Key.

Follow Mark’s tips to become a better asset for your clients, and remember that “advising on more than just mortgages might take you out of your comfort zone, but the rewards to you and your clients are well worth it.”

If you would like to read the column in full, you can do so by clicking here.

Summer Madness at ConveyancingBrain

Introducing Summer Madness: our fantastic loyalty programme over at ConveyancingBrain, which rewards all users of the system with some great prizes.

The programme is our way of saying thanks to those who are using ConveyancingBrain, by offering vouchers for cases that are instructed and then complete, excluding the very first case each month to make it a bit of a challenge.

It started at the beginning of July, and since then plenty of advisors have been taking advantage of this brilliant initiative. So how do you get involved?

It’s really simple.
All you have to do is instruct your first case on ConveyancingBrain, and for all your following cases you can receive £15 worth of Amazon Vouchers.

Your case must complete before you receive your vouchers, but there is no limit on the number of cases you can instruct and complete – so go wild! One advisor did just that: instructing eight cases and earning themselves £105 worth of vouchers in the process.

How does it work?
The counter restarts at the beginning of each month, and your first instructed case each month doesn’t qualify, but every subsequent case does.

Once you have instructed and your second case has completed, just go onto the CB website and enter the details in the competition form and you’ll receive your £15 Amazon voucher. You can then earn an additional £15 voucher for each case thereafter. The number of cases is unlimited, and as long as they complete.

House purchases, as we know and many have experienced, can take a long time. So even if doesn’t complete until June 2017, you can still claim your voucher.

And although you don’t get a voucher for instructing your first case in the Summer Madness campaign, every new customer to ConveyancingBrain, chooses between a nice bottle of wine and a box of chocolates upon instruction of their very first case.

How long have I got?
We’re running our Summer Madness campaign until the end of September, so you still have just under a month to earn some vouchers – alongside your normal commission, of course.

Once you have instructed and completed a case, simply head over to our website and enter the case ID in the form to claim your vouchers. It’s as simple as that.

Remember: this fantastic offer finishes at the end of September and applies to cases that are instructed in July, August and September, which complete before June 2017.

So what are you waiting for? Use ConveyancingBrain today and get started on your voucher quest. How many will you earn?

Summer Madness at ConveyancingBrain

Technology in the Mortgage Market

It’s been thirty years since we first introduced our mortgage software to the market, and it has been a vital tool which has revolutionised the industry in terms of technology ever since.

Technology is constantly evolving in its nature, but its particularly interesting to see it used so much in an industry that has, for the most, part stuck to what it knew best and not ventured into unknown territory.

But where can it go from here? And will the mortgage industry be as happy to welcome yet more changes?

Thankfully, we can hope that, because it has become accustomed to new technology before, the industry will be more likely to welcome future technological developments.

Where did it begin?
In 1986, we introduced the first ever piece of mortgage software, but with some drawbacks due to technology itself still evolving into the type of system we needed for it to really take off.

Fast-forward to 2004 and M-Day, which propelled the mortgage industry forward in terms of technological advancements. It revolutionised the way brokers worked, however, the sceptics were out in force: asking how the existing mortgage systems would cope with new demands.

As we know, it did more than just cope, leaving the mortgage industry and the brokers working within it a bit happier about the idea of using technology in their line of work.

But where are we now?
After M-Day, technological advancements took a giant leap; it allowed us, and other mortgage solution suppliers, to create systems which were faster working, easier to use and up to date – waiting times became a thing of the past, and the client became more involved with the introduction of social media, apps and bigger and better websites.

And what do we predict for the future?
Technology is a hard one to predict: faster software, holograms, robots – who knows?!

It does seem that as time goes on, the industry is more accepting, and welcoming, of technological advancements, especially if it makes their job smoother, quicker and easier – as that usually means more business too!

Following on from M-Day, and 2014’s Mortgage Market Review, this year’s Mortgage Credit Directive requirements have enforced more change in the market.

In five years’ time, we think there will have been various advancements, including:

– More systems integration
– Integrating the tablet more
– Remote video – Skyping your broker!
– The (further) rise of Apps

After that, who knows! Technological advancements mean that exciting times are ahead for the industry, and for MortgageBrain too. We can’t wait to see what the future has in store – even if it is robots!

LoansBrain

Introducing LoansBrain www.loansbrain.co.uk – the clever and free way to source a second charge loan.

The deadline for MCD is fast approaching and everyone is talking about how it will affect them! From 21st March, secured loans will become regulated in accordance with the European Directive by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

We are delighted to announce the launch of LoansBrain, www.loansbrain.co.uk our whole of market second charge sourcing website created solely for mortgage brokers. It enables mortgage brokers to source a range of products from a whole of market range of secured loan Lenders. Brokers can either source a secured loan themselves and then refer to a Master Broker or simply refer. The Master Broker behind LoansBrain is Fluent Money – the UK’s largest second charge Master Broker and winner of the Loan Talk Awards 2015 for Largest Loan Broker. Get to grips with the system by booking a free 10 minute webinar here.

Why a Secured Loan?

A client may want to opt for a secured loan to keep a long-term low rate, because they only require the loan for a short period or because their circumstances have changed and remortgage is no longer an option. When:

  • Your client is already on a competitive mortgage rate
  • Your client is tied into their mortgage with heavy redemption penalties
  • Your client has an interest only mortgage
  • Your client needs a larger sum over a longer term to bring the monthly cost down
  • Your client needs funds quickly with no upfront fees to pay
  • Your client’s credit status has changed since their last mortgage application
  • Your client needs early settlement flexibility
  • Your client needs to raise capital for a non-traditional purpose
  • Your client is unable to obtain a re-mortgage or further advance
  • Soft credit searches at quotation stage is important

Why LoansBrain?

LoansBrain gives brokers a way to compliantly source Whole of Market second charge loans online. It is completely free to use and there is no need to register. If you’d like to know more about LoansBrain or would like to join one of the free webinar sessions, visit the website at www.loansbrain.co.uk

For a comprehensive understanding of MCD and how it is affecting Mortgage Sourcing generally please see our MCD designated page.