Product investment – it is not important, it is critical.

Staying ahead of the game in our market relies on listening to our customers, coming up with innovative ideas to accommodate their changing needs and different ways of thinking. Product investment is therefore crucial to our business’s evolution and offering high-end solutions.

Speaking to Introducer Today this month, our CEO Mark Lofthouse gave his thoughts on how we have retained as an industry and thought leader by ensuring that product investment remains at the top of our agenda each year:

“The technology market,” he notes, “is a particularly competitive market and the longevity and survival of many tech companies is down, quite simply, to their approach to product investment and development. Apple is the world’s largest tech company and regularly features in lists of the top ten companies in the world of any description.

“There’s one very good reason for that – it keeps bringing out new products that people want to buy. The first iPhone, the product on which the company was established, was launched ten years ago and since then they have continued to launch a range of new, innovative iPhones and along the way supported by the launch of new ‘connected’ products and devices like the iPad and Apple Watch. If Apple had lost its way and was still trying to sell the original ‘ten-year-old’ iPhone, I can pretty much guarantee that, as a company, it’d be rotten to the core by now! Blackberry and Nokia prove that point!”

While the mortgage technology market may not run on such a global scale like Apple, Mark notes that the principles remain the same:

“Any company in its sector which doesn’t listen to its customers and adapt to a changing market can’t possibly survive in the long run.

“Let me start close to home for a minute. Mortgage Brain recently celebrated its 30th birthday and we’re still as relevant now as we were 30 years ago. This is because we continually listen to our customers, invest in new products and people, and develop new and associated technology products and services to bring to the market. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be here. Simple as that.”

As the use of technology constantly evolves, you need to ensure you can keep up with it. As Mark points out, having the resources to be able to ensure your vision and ideas become a reality – is crucial.

Mark continues: “It’s why we invest over 40% of our expenditure each year into product research and development. It’s through product development and investment in the mortgage technology market that saw the launch of the mortgage industry’s first ever sourcing system. The ability to complete and submit AIPs and Full Applications digitally and receive a lending decision in under a minute. The launch in 2012 of the industry’s first mobile App that promoted advisers to consumers and brought in new business leads.”

This kind of investment allowed us to bring the industry’s first ever iPad-based sourcing system to the table as well as the development of multi-device, online and offline, fully integrated first and second charge sourcing solutions. It was also through this same investment and development that meant mortgage advisers were able to break into new markets such as conveyancing and second charge mortgage sourcing.

But how did all these developments come about? Mark has an answer for that: “Continuous investment in people, products and services – if done properly – is much more than just bringing new products to the market for the sake of it. Done properly, product development and investment allows companies to help and support advisers through the constant regulatory and market changes.

“Interactive websites with mortgage search and selection capabilities are here and now, together with digital client portals, which enable consumers to complete online Fact Finds, and securely send and receive information and documentation – all of which is way ahead of what the large aggregators have to offer.”

So, what’s next for both the mortgage market and for us as a company?

Mark thinks that anything is possible: “Looking ahead five or more years the biggest changes will be in the way we interact with computers with voice commands taking over from keyboards, and if we go all out Sci-Fi, there’ll be holograms and human-like robots!

“Who knows where it will end? The mortgage tech industry may not work on Apple’s global scale, but it’s still investing millions in R&D to keep advisers ahead of the game in an ever-changing market. Continuous investment, therefore, isn’t important, it’s critical.”

You can read the full piece on our website here.

Four reasons to attend industry events

You turn your computer on. You log onto social media and see the latest conference hashtag, or see an email drop into your inbox about the next industry event. Tempted to go? You should be.

Industry events offer incredible benefits, such as increasing your knowledge to service your customers better, understanding forthcoming regulatory changes and requirements, developing networking skills and meeting up with industry representatives from different services.  We’ve rounded up our top reasons as to why you should attend events below:

  1. Knowledge gains

In our latest social media poll, 67% of you said that the part you value most about events is expanding your knowledge. From key speakers to the latest industry news, events are vital for increasing your understanding outside of what you learn during working hours.

Our Mortgage Vision events this year cover topics such as creating a digital journey for your customers, the Senior Managers and Certification Regime, Buy to Let activity 12 months on, the Competition Review, GDPR – new data protection legislation, the return of the First Time Buyer and much more.

You can only learn so much from reading books and published articles – you can learn far more from actually going out and meeting Lenders and product providers first-hand. There are always opportunities to ask questions, discuss relevant topics including the current and future of your industry with other delegates too.

  1. Plenty of opportunities to network

Events offer a fantastic way for you to meet your peers, discuss the latest industry news with likeminded individuals and compare how you are finding ‘business’.

Comparing notes about forthcoming legislation, discussing the latest technology advancements and going over changes to mortgage products with those who are working in the same market as you, can often be very enlightening.

Not only that, but networking can help evolve your interpersonal skills. If you’re new to the networking scene, events can provide a great way of getting used to introducing yourself to others and gain confidence in potentially seeking out people to talk to.

  1. Everything you need, all in one place

It can often take time to locate all the resources you need to see the latest news, understand the next lot of legislation changes and discover new and existing technology advancements that can help you be the best broker possible. Luckily for you, events can provide a place where you learn all this and more – in one place, and often in just one day.

Events allow you to learn the topics that are influencing the market from the key-note speakers, as well as taking part in workshops or individual roundtable sessions that will offer you the change to interact more closely with your peers and ask the important, burning questions from the presenters.

  1. And they may be CPD accredited!

A really key pull for many brokers is that the majority of industry events will enable you to gain all-important CPD hours. Conferences and event may have been accredited to provide structured CPD to those that attend. This means that the events will provide directed ‘study,’ and will have clear and precise learning objectives in place for the delegates.

Mortgage Brokers need to complete a minimum of 35 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) each year, of which 21 hours should be structured. So in our industry, it is important to ensure that you are improving your knowledge and gain continuing professional development hours each year and events are the perfect place to do so.

Need a few more benefits?

  • Many events, like Mortgage Vision, are free to attend!
  • They’re informative and allow you to meet new people
  • You can motivate yourself simply by being in an educational environment
  • You will impress your customers by being up to the minute with the very latest news and views

The real trick to events is to go with clear objectives and plan your day to get the most of your time. Whatever your reason for going, we would love to hear it. Tweet us with the hashtag #MVision17 and let us know your top motive for attending events.

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!

What makes a good Mortgage Adviser?

What makes a good Mortgage Adviser?

Figures released by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) showed that just two years ago there were around 10,000 mortgage advisers, 4000 IFAs who offer some mortgage advice, and another 4000 advisers working in banks. It is believed this number will have increased significantly over the last two years. So why should someone choose you to be their Adviser? What makes a good Adviser and how can you stand out?

We have pulled together some of the most important attributes and skills we think make a good mortgage adviser:

1. Referrals and Awards
An Adviser who has a constant source of referrals is clearly doing something right. If you are sourcing customer of Mortgage Brain and use either MortgageBrain Classic or MortgageBrain Anywhere then you will automatically appear on the consumer app UKMortgages. This app as of January 2015, had been used over 1million times on both android and iPhones and can be found in the relevant app store as well as on the internet. When you have received a referral it is best practice to asking where they saw your details. Perhaps even ask your new client to write you a short reference that you could use on your website or on your LinkedIn profile, a great way to generate leads.

They say word of mouth is the best form of marketing, and I think we’d agree. If you have been recognised for your skills, then don’t be afraid to shout about it, use your website, LinkedIn profile and email signature as ways of sharing the news. We were proud sponsors of the first ever Independent Mortgage Broker award at the ESTAS 2015. The largest and longest running awards in the UK property industry. Winners are selected purely on client feedback providing an incredibly powerful marketing message for successful Advisers and agencies.

2. Financial planners
A good Adviser has to ensure that his/her client can afford the mortgage they are looking for. Mortgages post Mortgage Market Review in April 2014 must fit into a household’s overall financial situation and goals, which often involves challenging but important questions. Some of the things that you have to ask and be able to ask are: What is the best type of mortgage for this borrower? How much should the borrower put down? Will it pay the borrower to refinance? Should the borrower consolidate other debts in a refinance? This list is by no means exhaustive, and is dictated by the rules put down by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Our compliance and customer relationship management system, the Key ensures that you remain compliant at all times as you communicate with your clients. The budget planner and rate shock in the schemes list in MortgageBrain Classic will help you to determine and fulfil the criteria as set out by the FCA, before you get close to suggesting a mortgage to your client.

3. Industry Knowledge
This comes with experience, and there are those with a vast amount of it. Displaying and proving that experience to your potential customers is not always easy. However there are ways a good Adviser can perhaps demonstrate this. Specialist website plug-ins such as best buy tables or mortgage calculators on your website are a great way of showing the latest and best deals on the market to those who may be interested in using your services.

Offering a whole of market sourcing service to your mortgage customers is also something that should appeal to anyone looking for a mortgage. An understanding that you will be providing your customer with information about all the products available rather than a few chosen ones is a something to certain shout about and also provides confidence in your knowledge and an element of trust. All of our sourcing products are whole of market if you are directly authorised.

At Mortgage Brain, we have our own dedicated Mortgage Brain LinkedIn Group for both Advisers and business partners who can find out about the latest industry news, best practice, our latest software updates or new releases. You can join in on discussions and network with other like-minded professionals in your industry. A great way to ensure you are doing all you can to be a good mortgage Adviser in a tough and competitive market.

4. Keeping clients Informed
Communication is a key attribute to any good mortgage Adviser. Clients will want to be kept informed, whether there is no news to report or if matters are proceeding on schedule. A good Adviser will monitor their client’s mortgage for its entire duration to ensure that the client is made aware of the best mortgage deals to suit their circumstances now and in the future. An Adviser that regularly checks rates and informs his or her clients of any better rates and deals available will earn the trust and confidence of any customer, as after all this is one of the largest financial commitments a borrower will ever make.

Adding your social media accounts or linking a blog to your website is also an excellent way of communicating with your clients in an unobtrusive way. Providing snap shots of your daily activities, or providing links to information that would prove useful or show your prowess in an informative way is another way of differentiating you from the next Adviser!