Brokers should remember that advice is their “key currency” and should reduce time spent on low-value administrative tasks, according to the COO of a mortgage marketplace.
There are a number of changes that brokers could be facing, including changes to remuneration, but what cannot be disputed is the value of a broker’s advice, the COO of HashChing, Siobhan Hayden, reminded attendees at the third annual National Finance Brokers Day event in Sydney last week.
She said that advice is the broker of the future’s “key currency”, so they should spend less time on low-value tasks such as data entry.
“I personally value a mortgage broker’s hourly rate at around $350, if not more. [I’ve previously spoken] about why brokers at that hourly rate persist on doing tasks that are probably valued at $25 an hour, [such as] data entering, collecting paperwork,” Ms Hayden said.
“Advice is your key currency.”
In many of the futuristic scenarios — as envisioned by the tech giants behind artificial intelligence-powered personal assistants such as Alexa, Cortana and Siri — advice is a “central piece” of that experience, Ms Hayden said.
“Customers don’t want to do anything else, but they do need advice,” the COO said.
“The main mantle that brokers have is the advice model, the ability to eyeball someone, give them what they need to know.”
A similar sentiment was communicated by the managing director of Elixir Consulting, Sue Viskovic, who previously suggested that brokers “get better at separating the value of [their] advice from the value of the product they’re implementing”, noting that advice is the broker’s most valuable intellectual property.
Also speaking at the event, Dino Pacella, founder of National Finance Brokers Day, expressed his strong belief that every consumer “has the right” to seek professional advice when taking out a loan.
“It is a very serious transaction when taking out a line of credit, and having a professional in your corner certainly goes a long way to making sure that you’ve got the right structure and right product in place,” Mr Pacella said.
Given the increasing shift of lending responsibilities to brokers, with many lenders tightening up their credit policies around living expenses, Ms Hayden stressed the importance of identifying ways to reduce both the average time spent on every customer application and the cost of customer acquisition.
Ms Hayden suggested that brokers “outsource” tasks where beneficial. For example, this could be through the adoption of software that promises to automate or simplify tasks.
“If you can do anything that outsources a task in a collaborative and enjoyable manner, it’s a tick. Add it to your business. Get it done. Save yourself three hours. [This is] because as soon as it costs less money to acquire a customer at the retail level, they’ll start to give you less commission,” the COO said.
“So, you need to prepare your businesses today to not be spending 16 hours per file.”
Following months of regulatory and media pounding, Ms Hayden claimed that it has never been more important for brokers to leverage the “power of the crowd” to grow their business.
“You want in your business, with your brand, to create customers that will rave about you. They will make sure that you’re known by the crowd,” the COO said.
“It reduces your need to go out and continually market your own business if your customers are doing that for you.”
The precursor to that is designing and delivering a “frictionless” customer experience, especially at a time when customers are “data-rich but time-poor”, according to the HashChing COO.
Ms Hayden pointed out that there has been a “discernible growth in a new category at the C-suite level”, referring to roles such as the chief customer officer, chief experience officer and director of customer experience.
“Those executives have a full remit in businesses to deliver and design new processes to ensure that we have great customer outcomes,” Ms Hayden said.
To be able to take advantage of the power of the crowd, the COO stressed the importance of ensuring that the customer is being listened to and that their feedback is delivered on, and importantly, that resources such as chief customer officers are not there to fix problems but to accelerate growth.
Tas Bindi is the features editor for The Adviser magazine. She writes about the mortgage industry, macroeconomics, fintech, financial regulation, and market trends.
Prior to joining Momentum Media, Tas wrote for business and technology titles such as ZDNet, TechRepublic, Startup Daily, and Dynamic Business.
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