Former Wizard Home Loans co-founder and Intouch Finance executive director Paul Ryan is the brains behind Eccho me, a community platform that allows consumers to have their finance and credit-related questions answered by users of the service.
“The app allows consumers to independently and conveniently ask any question, whether it’s about home loans, asset finance, commercial loans, personal loans, or credit cards,” Mr Ryan told The Adviser.
“Any credit-related question can be posted. For example, someone may want to know if the interest rate on their home loan is too high or how they can access funds to help grow their business” he said. “The question can then be answered by mortgage brokers, finance brokers, bank managers, peer-to-peer lenders and even other consumers who have a desire to help others."
While reviewing a number of different insights, consumers are able to see the thought processes of brokers, the quality of their answers, and make a judgment on their consistency.
“That helps the customer connect with more finance professionals and helps them understand more about their finance and credit options,” Mr Ryan said. “It’s creating a community of consumers alongside finance professionals.”
As well as providing information to consumers, Eccho me sends leads to brokers via push notifications.
“If a consumer chooses to make contact with a particular finance professional they can request contact by phone, SMS or email,” Mr Ryan said. “A push notification goes to the finance professional so they can obtain an email with the customers contact information.”
The platform allows registered users to review the questions answered by finance professionals and the quality of their answers. They, along with other users can eccho the information posted, follow the discussion and not unlike social media have the option to follow the finance professional.
“It’s completely transparent and the consumer can see the social equity and profile of the finance expert prior to making a decision to make an appointment,” Mr Ryan said.
The app is free for consumers and free for finance professionals to download and use. However, a monthly fee buys you additional features such as push notifications when a user asks a question and the ability for users to share your Eccho profile on social media.
Mr Ryan sees the platform being an avenue for brokers to become community leaders by advertising their service levels through consistent, quality responses.
Award-winning broker Nicole Cannon of Pink Finance has recently started using the app and said it she finds the whole concept “very intriguing in a positive way”.
“I love educating people and providing them with information and I think this is a great way of being able to show your knowledge and share your knowledge out there in the community to people who are potentially interested,” Ms Cannon told The Adviser.
“It may not necessarily translate into leads, but it’s about profiling your knowledge.
“It comes down to transparency. It proves that brokers are knowledgeable in a number of areas, whereas our competitors in the banks may only know about one product in one channel.”
Ms Cannon said the privacy settings on the platform mean that leads that do come through are more qualified.
Another broker sold on the idea is Rebecca Mitchell of Awesome Lending Solutions, who believes the app provides independent brokers a platform to share their knowledge.
“Digital is the way moving forward for clients and brokers. Everyone is on social media these days, so to incorporate an app that works like that is a great idea,” Ms Mitchell said.
“It’s a great point of difference. It helps brokers who may not be able to get their message out there. All brokers can learn from each other as well, which is a great idea.”